Heating With a Gas Fireplace
Q: "I'm thinking about fitting a $10 blower to the direct-vent, sealed-combustion natural-gas fireplace in our large, open family room. Do you think I could heat the room that way?"
I'm thinking about fitting a $10 blower I found on clearance to the direct-vent, sealed-combustion natural-gas fireplace in our large, open family room. Do you think I could heat the room that way, instead of relying on the house's two-year-old high-efficiency furnace?
—Lew Kausel, East Greenwich, R.I.
Richard Trethewey replies: Using the fireplace as a primary heat source in one room doesn't make much sense, because even the most efficient gas fireplace is no match for a high-efficiency furnace. A fireplace is there primarily for aesthetics and romance. Its ability to heat a room is modest, at best.
Sure, a blower will help move heated air beyond the vicinity of the fireplace, but don't expect it to distribute that heat evenly throughout the family room. Also, adding the blower may void the warranty on the fireplace. Check with the fireplace manufacturer before installing it.
Frankly, the best way to save money with a gas fireplace is to convert a standing pilot light—one that's on all the time—to an on-demand pilot that fires only when necessary. I don't know if your fireplace has a pilot light, but if it does, such a conversion could easily save $10 or more every month.