No matter how much we want it to be summer, winter is definitely here and one of our favourite hobbies is curling up under blankets with a good book in front of a fireplace. We have collected a few beautiful fireplaces to serve as inspiration and what you need to consider when planning a fireplace of your own.
Once you have found your inspiration you will have to take into account the following considerations:
When it comes to fireplaces, there are three main fuels to choose from, including:
- Wood-burning fireplaces: There is nothing that can really compete with the visual aesthetics and snap-crackle-and-pop acoustics of a real wood-burning fire. These fires also give off excellent heat, especially with the modern fuel-efficient fireplace designs; some of which boast a fuel efficiency of above 70% and use half the wood that an older, traditional fireplace would use. On the downside however, these fireplaces require considerable effort – you need to buy your own wood, store it somewhere dry so that it can season, lug it into the house, physically build and light the fire and then worry about sparks and other fire safety issues. Also, you need to clean all the ash and coal from the fireplace once you are finished using it. All this effort means that owners of these fireplaces don’t use them as often as they could.
- Gas fireplaces: These fireplaces are growing in popularity, and although they lack the reality of a real fire, they can put out a pretty convincing flame. However, probably the number one reason why they have become so popular, is the convenience factor that they offer – with a gas fireplace, all you need to do is to flick a switch to turn them on. Top-end models even come with a remote control so that you don’t need to leave the comfort of your couch, bed or bath to enjoy the benefits of a roaring fire. Furthermore, there will be no ash to clean up or wood to replenish once you have finished with the fire, you merely turn it off and leave it until the next time you require its warmth and heat.
- Denatured Ethanol: Using renewable energy and utilising state-of-the-art design and technology, there has been a dramatic re-invention of the old spirit stove, an example of which is the EcoSmart Fire. Using the “fuel of the future” - Denatured Ethanol - these fires are environmentally-friendly open fireplaces that are cheap to run and easy to use. The renewable energy burns clean and is virtually maintenance free. Once the fuel is burnt, there is nothing to clean or clear. The fuel is housed in a stainless steel chamber called the EcoSmart Burner, where the heat can be regulated and the flame extinguished. Because there is no need for a flue or fixed pipe connections, the EcoSmart Fire offers remarkable design and flexibility previously unavailable to the consumer. It also makes it very transportable, and suitable for apartment and city living.
You can drastically reduce your heating costs if you make an effort in increasing the efficiency of your fireplace by installing the following features:
- Top sealing dampers replace the fireplace throat damper and are installed at the top of the chimney. It comprises a seal that acts like a storm door to keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside in winter, and vice versa in summer.
- A fireback comprises a cast iron plate that is located at the back of your fireplace. It protects the back wall from damage and improves the heat efficiency of the fireplace by absorbing the heat from the fire and radiating it back into the room.
- A fireplace heater pulls fresh air from the room, circulates it through a chamber that is heated by the fire, and then blows the heated air back into the room. These heaters are closed systems to ensure that no smoke from the fire will enter the room.
- Fireplace glass doors are excellent with regards to heat retention – they create a barrier between the living space and the chimney, thus reducing the area that needs to be heated. They also offer another level of safety by protecting children and pets from the fire, as well as safeguarding your home from any sparks or falling embers.