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   FIREPLACES! Contributor or Detractor to an Energy Efficient Home
2011 - Volume 1 Issue 2
Casas Bonitas
New Home Construction
Article: Bob Skolnick
courtesy Village West Publishing - HearthWarming 2008
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The solution to have your warmth and ambience without loosing your airtight envelope is installing a sealed gas fireplace box tied into a direct vent pipe.

Having a fireplace in one or more rooms serves multiple purposes. Certainly a fireplace adds a level of ambience when placed in a bedroom, in the wall over the bathtub or in the main living areas. Wherever they are installed, they also give off heat, if fueled by wood, pellets or gas. Ceramic log kits are now perfected and look like wood, with many styles to choose from. They retain the heat and improve the heating resulting from your fireplace.


7365 Remcon Circle
El Paso, TX

Rawson Builders Supply
2355 Nevada Ave.
Las Cruces, NM
You certainly can warm specific rooms with your fireplace without turning on the furnace, which in some cases requires some or a lot of electricity. Fireplaces with gas burners can be remote controlled and tied into a thermostat to turn on and off and/or increase the flame volume to maintain a certain temperature in the room where the fireplace and the adjacent thermostat is installed. This is an inexpensive way to “zone heat” your home.

The heating gain with a fireplace is easy to achieve. The challenge is to get the zone heating while not perforating the airtight building envelope you are trying to achieve for efficient energy use. Traditional fireplaces with chimneys or B vent pipes provide for the burn or fumes of the fireplace to be evacuated outside of the house. To accomplish, air from inside of the house is drawn from the room and exits the chimney as heated fumes. This then requires air to be let into the room from the outside to replace the air that was expelled. When the fireplace is not in use, the chimney can work in reverse allowing cold outside air into the room, even with a closed damper there is outside air penetration. In short, the fireplace can be the “leak in the air-tight envelope.”

The solution to have your warmth and ambience without loosing your airtight envelope is installing a sealed gas fireplace box tied into a direct vent pipe. This makes the fireplace a sealed unit not requiring air from inside of the room to function. The sealed gas fireboxes come in many styles and sizes and are designed to set into a pre-sized wall opening that can be embellished in the room by stone, wood or tile surfaces. The direct vent pipe is the key as it is a pipe within a pipe. Hot air rises through the center of the pipe and cold makeup air comes back to the firebox through the outside section. ///
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