Contemporary Living Room Modern Fireplace

Stylish and Efficient Fireplaces

We’re starting to feel that winter chill coming on! We’ll admit that it is a much milder cool trend compared to the northern regions, but cooler temperatures are still biting at our Southern California toes. As this cold weather creeps up on us, we crave warmth. Long dark evenings prompt us to spend more time indoors where we can unwind, and cozy up to the inviting flames of a nice warm fireplace.

Fireplaces have come a long way in history, and their styles have morphed from a functional hearth for warmth, cooking, and even laundering, to nowadays providing warmth and beauty to ones home. There are so many decorative styles, and types of fireplaces to suit the architecture and needs for a home–from gas, to electric, and even wood burning. In recent years, fireplaces have been under scrutiny in their ability to truly give off adequate heat. The thought is that older models are inefficient as they can actually suck up the warm air in a room and release it out thru the chimney/vent. But the key word there is ‘inefficient.’

Here are 3 types of fireplaces that can generate and distribute real heat into your home with style and efficiency:

Vent Free Ethanol Burning Fireplaces

Contemporary Living Room Modern Fireplace

These types of fireplaces have become more and more popular over the years due to their minimalist design, ‘clean’ burn, and even their ability to be mobile. These fireplaces rose in trend with the use of biofuels. It burns on denatured ethanol, meaning there is no utility hookup is required. The additional beauty of this type of fireplace is that it burns clean with no smoke, and zero ashes to deal with once the fire has burned out. No need for a fireplace with this chimney either. They come in a variety of styles and designs to suit any home, from built in to even mobile. Prices range depending on the size and style you’re looking for. Here are 3 brand lines to consider.

Insert Type Fireplace

Large living room with fireplace

Outdoor fireplace dining area

Insert fireplace in bedroom

Whether you’re building, remodeling, or simply making some upgrades, consider an insert type of fireplace. They’re a fantastic energy efficient and economical option. These modular boxes are extremely versatile as they’re installed directly into the designated fireplace opening of your choice, and even come in a variety of configurations such as direct vent, vent free, wood burning, gas, pellets and much more. They’re a truly great option for efficiently circulating warm air throughout your home. Glass doors are the best option to control the air and heat flow. They use an outside combustion air intake, which utilizes outside air for burning as opposed to the indoor air you need to keep things cozy.

Masonry Heater or Radiant Type Fireplace

Large eat-in kitchen with masonry heater fireplace
Image credit: Phinney Design Group

Masonry fireplaces are old world, and quite beautiful, but keep in mind the fire viewing area is generally smaller than the above mentioned models. On the flip side, they’re extremely efficient as a primary source of heating within your home. This is the type of fireplace you might want for your vacation home in Aspen or Park City. Radiant fire places are commonly fired once a day with the fire burning out after about 3 to 4 hours. The heater, then becomes a constant source of radiant heat, giving off consistent heat for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on the size and model. Masonry heaters can also be incorporated into a radiant HVAC system (such as radiant floors) to preheat the hot water for the home. A fun add-on to this type of fireplace is that a bake-oven component is often an option which can be used as a pizza oven. Design-wise, masonry heating fireplaces can add a grand and a beautiful design element to ones home with stunning stonework, built-in benches and even see-thru openings.


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