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Fireside Coziness Counts and Can Help Sell a House, Too

These days any home can have some sort of cozy, romantic fireplace. What type you choose will depend on your particular tastes and needs. In the long run, having any type of fireplace in your home will make it more attractive to a prospective buyer than an identical house without one.

Installing a fireplace in your home presents you with two main choices: wood burning or gas fueled? Once you've made that decision, your next choices center on various options to make your fireplace safer and more efficient.

For the dogmatic traditionalist or the devout romantic, only one type of fireplace exists-one that burns wood. And now, along with the great scent and the wonderful popping noises of logs on the fire, homeowners can get a more efficient wood-burning fireplace. Insulated fireboxes trap the warm air that would normally be swept up the chimney or out of the sides of the firebox. A blower system can also be added to redirect the heated air from the chimney back into the room for more heating efficiency.

Certain communities regulate or prohibit wood burning fireplaces since their use may emit harmful gases and particles into the air. You should know the regulations within your community before deciding on the type of fireplace to build. Be sure to look for special filters that reduce dust and smoke from your fireplace, reducing harm to the environment.

If you are more concerned with convenience than tradition, gas fireplaces are easier to care for than wood burning fireplaces. No wood is required, no ashes are left to clean, and with certain types you don't even need a chimney! These fireplaces are called direct-vent units, and they vent through a pipe, out of the top or the back of the fireplace, through an outdoor wall. These are by far the safest of all vented fireplaces. Direct-vent units are quite efficient since they use only outside air for combustion, keeping the warm air inside your home. Fans can be installed inside the gas fireplace to push the hot air collecting at the back of the unit into your room.

Vent-free gas fireplaces are similar to a gas range. Adequate ventilation is a must for use of one of these fireplaces since the fire needs oxygen to burn. If the level of oxygen drops, carbon monoxide gas can form, which is very dangerous. Each of these fireplaces comes equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor for safety. This sensor shuts off the gas if the oxygen level in the room drops below 18%. The Department of Energy, Gas Technologies, Inc. and the American Gas Association all rate the efficiency of gas fireplaces. You can also contact the distributor or manufacturer for this information.

One of the main complaints about gas fireplaces is that they don't look like a "real fire." Ceramic logs, softly glowing "embers" and flames that leap and flicker create a more realistic scene than the gas logs of ten years ago.

Curling up in front of a warm fire, whether it is wood burning or gas fueled, can be a wonderful night's entertainment. With the appropriate choices it can also be a safe and energy efficient evening.

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