Have you ever looked at a blank wall in your living room and thought it may need a fireplace? Besides adding some personality to bare units, fireplaces are also functional upgrades that make parts of your home warmer and more enjoyable to be in. Not to mention, they're also a great way to add value to your property. In 2021, Redfin shared that homes with fireplaces are listed at a 13% higher price than the national median sale price and one of the more popular trends that buyers are looking for.
However, not all fireplaces are alike. While in the past, many families survived on traditional wooden fireplaces, modern homeowners now have more cost-effective and environmentally friendly options to choose from. Depending on your budget, lifestyle, and building codes, there are wood, gas, or electric fireplaces with various iterations. But, if you're on the fence about what type of fireplace to get, here's why you should probably consider an electric one instead.
If you've ever gone through a massive home renovation, you're probably familiar with the dreadful feeling of waking up to the noise, dust, and general disorder of it all. Additionally, you know what it's like dealing with building codes, vent pipe clearances, and emission limits. Thankfully, this isn't as big of a problem for electric fireplace owners.
When adding a fireplace to their homes, most people think of wood fireplaces first. However, they not only have some stringent requirements like space for a chimney and masonry, but they are also the most expensive type of traditional fireplace to install.
Alternatively, installing a freestanding fireplace can be as low as $70. If you and a friend are willing to do the installation yourself, retailers like Walmart offer free shipping and 90-day returns for some freestanding models that it reports only needing two people to set up. With this, you could definitely get an electric fireplace up and running with minimal effort.
In addition, unlike traditional fireplaces, many electric fireplaces offer app-controlled features, which let you turn it on and off. By being able to remotely power your electric fireplace, you don't have to worry about accidentally leaving it on when you leave for work or coming home to a cold home, making it a convenient alternative from its installation to its day-to-day use.
Compared to gas and wood-based fireplaces, electric fireplaces provide households with warmth with overall less impact on the environment. In fact, Electric fireplaces are the most eco-friendly option because it does not emit smoke or fumes. Additionally, electric fireplaces are 100% efficient because they use all of their energy to create heat.
It's important to note that while electric fireplaces don't emit on-site emissions, the power used to use them can still be reliant on non-renewable energy sources, like fossil fuels. However, burning wood releases more carbon dioxide than oil or gas for the same amount of energy. With this, we know that even if your electric fireplace uses fossil fuels to work, it will still release less carbon in the air and it's actually better for the environment overall.
With electric fireplaces likely raising the cost of your electricity bill every month, you may want to augment your power requirements using solar panels. These days, homeowners have a variety of solar panel options available for them, including ultra-thin solar cells that you can glue to any surface or mobile solar panels you can bring to adventures on the road.
Fire and health safety
While many adults will have the mind space to make sure they don't burn themselves with their fireplace, accidents can still occur. If your home has any children, elderly, or PWDs, an electric fireplace can significantly decrease the chances of fire-related injuries. From 2017-2019, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reported that confined fires, which included chimneys, flues, and fuel burners, caused 77% of residential building heating fires. In its December 2021 Topical Fire Report Series, the USFA also shares that heating was the second leading cause of all residential building fires and caused an estimated average of 165 deaths, 600 injuries, and $367 million in property losses annually in the United States alone.
Aside from the fire hazard, traditional fireplaces also carry additional health risks. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), smoke resulting from improperly burned wood contains a cocktail of harmful substances, such as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and fine particle pollution. In addition, it shares that while it may take high concentrations of particle pollution to damage someone's lung tissue, it can still be dangerous in lower concentrations for children, the elderly, or the immunocompromised.
Some of the potential health impacts of wood smoke pollution could potentially include coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, and heart attacks, among other health issues. For pet parents, an electric fireplace can also help protect your pets, which typically have more sensitive smell receptors than a human being.
Typically, standard fireplace dimensions are between 24-30 inches (height) and 24-26 inches (width). But because electric fireplaces don't need to consider the smoke shelf area and chimney, it's a lot more flexible in terms of size and placement. With electric fireplaces, you can even take them with you to every home you'll have afterward. Because of its compactness, it's easy to transport them from rental to rental, or even your forever home.
Depending on the size of the area you hope to heat up, the type of heating mechanism in your electric fireplace will make a difference. If the room is less than 400 square feet, it's best to use an electric fireplace model that uses forced fan heating, wherein the heated air comes out of a vent. Otherwise, it recommends infrared quartz heating, which generates heat by producing infrared light.
While some electric fireplaces need to be hardwired, it's always better that you plug them straight into an outlet. However, electric fireplace owners should never plug their electric fireplace into a power strip or surge protector. Because of the variations in amp ratings, you may encounter serious problems or accidentally damage it in the process. So while it's tempting, it's best to use the smart plug on other energy suckers in your household instead.
There is something luxurious about having a fireplace in your home, even one without real fire. With the right fireplace, you can turn an almost ordinary living room into a glamorous one. These days, the opportunities for customizing electric fireplaces are endless. For example, if you love the traditional feel of a wood fireplace, many electric fireplaces offer log, crystal, or driftwood effects, which can appear almost lifelike.
On the other hand, there are also electric fireplace options for people who like more fantasy-themed living rooms, such as various color combinations of flames with multiple intensity settings. While it may not have the smell of wooden fires, it's common for electric fireplaces to have custom sound effects, such as fire-cracking.
Aside from remotes, many electric fireplaces can also be controlled by apps. Once connected to Wi-Fi, some brands also let you pair your electric fireplace with smart home assistant devices. If you're on this journey already, you may also want to consider adding other devices that can help truly transform your home into a smart home.
How fireplaces can help make a home
While fireplaces are a great way to increase the property value of your home, they can quickly become an integral part of your home in other ways. Although it's typically only used during the colder parts of the year, fireplaces can drastically alter the look and feel of your house.
For some families, fireplaces are where traditions are born and passed down throughout the generations. Alongside your tree, the act of decorating your fireplace can be a ritual that you share with those you love. Not to mention, it may be the perfect place to have everyone huddled up together while opening presents over the holidays.
With an electric fireplace, you can make sure that your family stays warm during the coldest parts of the year, without the risk of indoor air pollutants and fire. However, before buying any new appliance, you should definitely check the Clean Energy Tax Credits for Consumers for possible tax credits.