Wood burning inserts for fireplaces
The idea of inserts came about for three reasons. First, research showed that conventional fireplaces were very inefficient and, therefore, not an effective heat source. Second, since the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, Americans have become more aware of energy. Third, because a high percentage of American homes already have these inefficient fireplaces, people began searching for a solution. Generally, inserts greatly improve heat generation efficiency in comparison to the conventional brick or stone fireplace. Fireplaces are 10 percent efficient at best, and as the outside temperature drops, their efficiency declines. On the other hand, a good insert can operate at 40 percent efficiency if it is fired properly. Because the cost of inserts ranges from $800 to $1500, consumers wonder whether putting an insert into their fireplace is a wise economic choice. Of course, this depends on how often the fireplace (insert) is used. If you only use your fireplace occasionally and not necessarily as a heat source, then the purchase of an insert is not a good choice. On the other hand, if you plan to burn one or more cords of wood per year for the heat, then buying the insert may be wise. The more wood you plan on burning each year for heat, the shorter the payback period will be.
Archive version. For most recent information see extension.missouri.edu.