For all their romantic appeal, traditional fireplaces are inefficient, sending as much as 95 percent of the heat they produce right up the chimney.

You can turn your hearth into an economical heating system by fitting it with an electric fireplace insert. Electric inserts are available as a log set situated on a grate or a firebox that's installed into the opening of your hearth. Styles now range from traditional burning logs to those with contemporary silvered glass pieces or river stones in the ember bed.

Measure your fireplace opening width, height and depth, taking note if the firebox narrows. Log inserts or inserts with black metal boxes are both suitable. Then review the sizes of electric fireplaces and their dimensions, to determine which is the closest fit to fill the firebox opening.

In talking with homeowners, I have experienced there will often be a slight gap between the electric insert and the sides of the masonry. Gaps can be covered with trim work. Since electric fireplaces remain cool to the touch, any gaps can be concealed with wood trim molding. Non-combustible special materials are not required.

Electric fireplaces require no venting, so you can close the flue. Some homeowners place insulating materials in the top of the back of the firebox, under the closed damper.

The permanence of the insert may be a consideration. A log insert can be placed in the firebox with the cord wrapping the hearth plugged into an outlet near the mantel's side. Electric logs just plugged in standard wall outlets allow for very easy removal.

If you have decided that you're ready for a permanent installation, contact an electrician to assist in placing an outlet in the back of the firebox. Whether placing electric logs or an electric fireplace that consists of electric logs housed inside the metal box, having an outlet installed in the rear of the firebox gives your hearth a more realistic look and feel.

The BTUs and size of room that are able to be warmed by electric fireplace inserts is comparable. An electric fireplace hard wired for 240 volts is able to heat greater square footage.

Our team of sales representatives can help if you are unsure of which insert will suit your needs. As the majority of homes have a traditional fireplace, electric inserts are a more efficient method of keeping the supplemental heat where it should be- in your home.

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