Fall Home Show: Fireplaces add romance, practicality

  • Wed Sep 26th, 2012 8:07pm
  • Life

By Ashley Stewart Herald writer

The cold weather is creeping up on us, but a visit to the home show might help you make your house a little cozier this winter.

New innovations and advice from the consultants at Monroe Fireplace may allow you to swap that flickering yule log on the TV screen for one in your own fireplace.

“A fireplace adds the romance or aesthetic of a fire, which is sort of a traditional part of an American home,” said Bob Martin, owner of Monroe Fireplace.

“It also adds a practical element where the fireplace or stove unit can supply some or all heating in a home,” he said.

Martin, 69, and his wife bought Monroe Fireplace in 1985, when it was an 800-square-foot showroom carrying only wood-burning fireplaces. Today, the business has expanded to include a 3,500-square-foot showroom offering a full range of stoves, inserts and fireplaces that burn wood, pellets or gas.

Here are his tips for homeowners considering adding a fireplace.

“First, identify your motivation,” Martin said.

Customers should consider whether they want a fireplace that will save money on a heating bill, to provide backup heating without power or for aesthetics.

This will help them to identify the type of stove they should be looking for.

Pellet stoves require electricity, so if a customer is looking for a backup heat source, opt for a wood or gas stove, Martin said.

“The amount of space you have to donate to the product is important,” Martin said. “And you have to consider how much time you want to devote to it.”

Wood stoves are what Martin calls a lifestyle choice because they require continuous labor, including the daily handling and preparation of wood. Gas and pellet stoves are much less labor-intensive, he said.

Martin has a free-standing natural gas stove at home. He said gas stoves have the combined benefits of both wood and pellet burning stoves. They produce flame that looks similar to wood stoves, have the ability to run without power and can be economical. They also have better heating performance.

Fireplaces are typically added to a home when it is built. Inserts can be added to an existing fireplace to make it more efficient.

Martin said that customers should look for a reputable, experienced dealer who uses manufacturers that have “a good track record.”

“Our job is to work with the customer to help them determine what their needs are and match a product to their needs,” Martin said. “Product lines keep expanding, and that makes our job more important … you can’t just walk into this business and be functional and productive.”

Monroe resident Kip Rumens, 47, is a sales representative for Travis Industries, a fireplace manufacturer that supplies Monroe Fireplace. He will be speaking at the home show seminar, Zone Heating Will Save You Money and Energy.

Rumens said it’s more energy-efficient and less costly to heat your home in portions or zones.

People used to buy large wood stoves to heat their entire homes and would end up overheating and then opening windows to cool off, he said, wasting money and energy.

Advances in heating allow customers to use smaller stoves while retaining or improving efficiency, Rumens said.

“There are some groundbreaking technologies; doesn’t matter if it’s a fireplace or a stove or an insert,” Rumens said.

A new self-lighting wood stove ignites wood in 45 seconds with the press of a button. With this technology, the wood stove is 80 percent efficient compared with the 35 percent in an older wood stove, he said.

Gas stoves are about 85 percent efficient, and wood stoves without self-lighting and pellet stoves are in the mid-70 percent range, he said.

Rumens seminar at the show, Zone Heating Will Save You Money and Energy is at 3:30 and 4:15 p.m. Friday, and 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

For more information and products, visit Monroe Fireplace at 19922 U.S. 2, go to www.monroefireplace.com or call 360-794-8024.

Ashley Stewart: 425-339-3037; astewart@heraldnet.com.