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Which is More Efficient: Furnace or Fireplace?

Furnace or Fireplace is the question. Wisconsin winters are serious business, which means the cost of keeping your home warm throughout the season can be surprising. Deep into the cold season, it’s not uncommon to start wondering where you could be saving money on heating costs. A furnace keeps your whole home comfortable, while a gas fireplace can be very effective at heating certain areas. Which one will be less expensive for you to run depends on various factors, including your living habits and expectations. 

Is Running a Gas Fireplace Cheaper Than Running a Furnace?

There’s no hard and fast answer to this question because there are too many variables involved. In a general sense, however, there are times when it can be more cost-effective to rely on the zone heating provided by a gas fireplace. 

If you tend to spend most of your time in just a few rooms, running the furnace for the entire house can feel wasteful and expensive. Closing vents in unused rooms can go a long way for boosting efficiency, but if the rooms where you spend most of your time have gas fireplaces, this might be a better option. Not all gas fireplaces are created equal, however. Some are more efficient than others in terms of heating output and fuel consumption, so comparisons aren’t always apples to apples. 

Because the heat isn’t traveling through ductwork, rooms containing gas fireplaces are heated directly. This option can be great when you’re staying put in one room, but heating rooms on the other side of the house is challenging. Here’s another potential hidden cost associated with heating a single room at a time: frozen pipes. Keeping the furnace running means heat is circulating more evenly, lowering the risk of costly repairs. 

Making the Final Call

Like so many things in life, whether a fireplace or a furnace is more efficient comes down to the fact that they’re essentially two different appliances with different purposes. When temperatures are very low, or your family is spread throughout the house, it’s almost always better to opt for the furnace. For smaller households or times when everyone is gathered in a single room, the fireplace provides warmth exactly where it’s needed most.

If you’re not sure which route is best for you, we can help.


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