It goes without saying, in the winter, you want to keep your home as warm and comfortable as possible, while spending as little as you can on gas or electricity. So when temperatures drop, you may be wondering, should you turn up the furnace, or light your fireplace?

Which heat source is more energy efficient? Does one method save you a little more money in the long run? Or should you run your furnace and fireplace at the same time?

Comparing the energy usage of fireplaces and furnaces

The efficiency of your home fireplace really depends on the type of fireplace you have. Gas fireplaces heat up quickly, but only 70% – 90% of the energy they use is converted into room-warming heat. Electric fireplaces take longer to warm, but are much more efficient— 100% of their energy is converted into heat.

And in both cases, the heat generated only warms up one room. Or part of a room, if they’re installed in a large space.
When it comes to furnaces, mid-efficiency units convert 80% – 83% of their energy into heat. But high-efficiency furnaces can convert as much as 90% – 98.5%. And because a central heater offers whole-home comfort— transferring warm air to every space in the house— they maintain more uniform heating in your home.

When it comes to heating a room, size matters

So you see how a furnace is the most energy efficient choice for heating a whole house. But what about individual rooms?

In a small room, like a bedroom or office, even a small gas fireplace or electric fireplace with a heater can effectively raise the temperature of the space. So if you only need to heat a small part of your home, running the fireplace (instead of cranking up the thermostat) can save you more energy.

So… which heater wins— furnaces or fireplaces?

That really depends on what you’re using the heating system for. While furnaces are the most efficient way to heat a whole home, fireplaces (and particularly, electric fireplaces with heaters) offer warm ambiance and a bit of direct heat— perfect for a smaller space.

Furnaces provide greater comfort, but nothing beats the golden glow and toe-warming power of a crackling fireplace.

At Burton, we help Omaha homeowners enjoy happier, cozier homes

Our whole-home comfort experts offer furnace repairs, tune-ups, and installation, as well as plumbing and electrical services. If it breaks, busts, or just won’t work, Just Call Burton! (402) 343-0011.