Turn up the heat, but minimize your costs

As temperatures drop around the country and heating costs rise, U.S. homeowners are turning to hearth products — including fireplaces, stoves and inserts — to save on their fuel bills.

The federal government predicts that consumers can expect to pay 10 percent more in heating costs this winter.

A recent poll commissioned by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, or HPBA, found that one in three American adults indicated they will have and use various hearth products in their home. And these units, including wood-burning, gas, pellet and corn stoves and high-efficiency woodburning fireplaces, will be important parts of their plans for home heating costs over the next six months.

“Consumers want products that not only provide efficient heat, but are also environmentally friendly,” HPBA President Jack Goldman stated in a news release. “Installing today’s fireplaces, stoves or inserts can provide that efficient, clean heat without sacrificing the warm ambiance that Americans enjoy in the winter months.”

A central furnace can waste money by heating your entire home — including unoccupied rooms. Zone heating with a fireplace, stove or insert warms the rooms families occupy most and allows the thermostat to be turned down on the central furnace.

One study indicates that zone heating solutions can provide energy savings of 20 percent to 40 percent.

Increased fuel costs and continued focus on efficiency are key reasons for the ongoing popularity of hearth products. With today’s multiple options, a fireplace, stove or insert can be installed almost anywhere in your home — even in such non-traditional locations as the kitchen, home office, master bedroom or bathroom.

To help consumers navigate the myriad of placement, product and fuel choices, the HPBA has developed an online comparison guide that highlights the differences between appliance options, fuels, approximate efficiency and the estimated costs of product purchase.

For additional information, visit the HPBA’s Web site at www.hpba.org.