Home Heating  Save $2500 a Year!

Photo by: Vermont Castings Group The Montpelier Woodburning Fireplace Insert

With heating oil at historic highs many homeowners are considering converting their fireplaces to a more efficient heating mode by installing an EPA fireplace insert.

Using the Smithers method for estimating, one cord of wood equals 140 gallons of No. #2 fuel oil.  If you typically use 1000 gallons of oil a season and with the current price running around $4.00 your total seasonal heating costs equals $4000.00.  Firewood, cut, split and delivered green at $230 a cord, times the estimated usage of 6.5 cords equals $1495.   Oil   $4,000.00 or Wood  $1,495.00  Annual Saving $2,505.00. Plus many woodburning inserts qualify for a federal tax credit.

If you are late ordering firewood you will pay a premium for fire wood that is already seasoned but even at $300 a seasoned cord your heating costs will be less than half that of fuel oil. Don’t burn green, wet wood! It’s a bad BTU value, it’s bad for your chimney and it’s bad for the environment!

Determine if the chimney is up to code. Start with your local fire department or hire a professional chimney sweep or installer to. perform a site review. 

My installer says I have to reline my flue? Likely true. New EPA stoves are so efficient that there is little heat lost up the flue which also means that the stoves cannot heat up that oversized fireplace flue to create draft and to keep the gases that are going up the flue above the condensation (creosote forming) temperature.  A new code requirement states that oversized flues must be resized before a new appliance can be installed.

What fits my fireplace? You need a lot of good measurements. Measure the opening size of the fireplace (height & width) plus the depth of the firebox, the rear width and the rear height at the distance that the insert sits into the firebox.  The other issues to be addressed are the location of mantle, top trim and side trim and the distance the manufacturer lists for clearances and hearth requirements.

What can I expect from an inset?  EPA wood burning approved inserts are 75% + efficient (open fireplaces are 10-20% max) and can burn 6-10 hours on a single full charge of wood depending on size of insert.

The cost? You purchase the insert or firebox and a set of panels to fit around the unit and to cover the fireplace opening. Most units sold by industry leaders like Vermont Castings, Jotul, Hearthstone, Lopi, and Morso having list prices starting at $2000. Delivery and Installation w/ stainless steel reline can add $1000. or more depending on the chimney height and roof accessibility.

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