Ask the Experts

This month’s expert is Ernie Stanhope, owner at Embers Stoves & Fireplaces

Q. Can you explain the benefits of a wood fireplace?

A. The only benefit of an open fireplace is aesthetics. Wood-burning fireplaces lose 80 to 90 percent of generated heat up the chimney, and they continue to pull warm room air out of the home when not in use. The best option to heat your home with wood would be to use a fireplace insert. They are energy-efficient and allow the homeowner to enjoy the ambiance of a fire.

Q. What is the function of an insert, exactly?

A. An insert is a heating appliance that is placed inside a traditional fireplace to maximize heating efficiency. Woodstove manufacturers produce appliances with both catalytic and noncatalytic options. Catalytic stoves, when run properly, will be cleaner burning and more efficient.

Q. What does it mean if an insert or stove is EPA-certified?

A. EPA certification is awarded to appliances that meet the EPA’s clean air standards. These stoves are more environmentally friendly because they produce less smoke and pollutants. We do not sell any stove that is not EPA-certified.


Q. What is the most efficient fireplace option for someone with a modest budget?

A. The most budget-friendly option for homeowners is a gas stove. The appliance only needs a wall space of 36 to 40 inches and access to NG and LP, and can be vented without the added expense of a masonry chimney.

Q. Are pellet stoves a good option for small spaces?

A. Pellet and gas appliances are a viable option for small spaces. Selection should be tailored to the homeowner’s needs and preferences. Both styles of appliance can be run on thermostats for consistent heat. Pellet stoves require electricity to operate, while gas stoves can run without electricity.

Q. Will my fireplace work during a power outage?

A. Wood and gas fireplaces work during power outages, but pellet stoves do not.

Q. Would there be an option if you have no place to vent a gas, wood, or pellet appliance?

A. The answer is yes. There are electric fireplaces and ethanol fireplaces, and both provide the ambiance of fire with minimal construction.