Your fireplace, fireplace insert or wood stove helps warm your home during the cold-weather months and lower your home heating bills. Your stove or fireplace also can be a valuable and important source of heating during an emergency situation, such as a long-term power outage during the winter months. If you’re considering a new fireplace, fireplace insert or stove, you should consider how that appliance could fit into your emergency home-heating plan.
Traditional open-hearth, wood-burning fireplaces often are criticized for their lack of efficiency. An open-hearth fireplace sends up to 90 percent of a fire’s heat up the chimney. Regardless, a wood-burning fireplace can help keep your family warm, to some degree, during a power outage emergency as long as you have an ample supply of firewood on hand.
Gas or wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts
Gas or wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts are among the best home heaters during a power outage emergency. Again, a wood-burning fire has fuel as long as you have an ample wood pile at home. Many gas stoves and fireplace inserts have battery backups on their ignitions, or they often can be manually lit during a power outage. Stoves or fireplace inserts provide an ample amount of heat and are generally safe during a power outage because they vent to the outside.
Your stove or fireplace insert won’t produce as much heat as it typically would because the blowers that help to output the fire’s heat won’t work in a power outage. However, there still will be significant heat output. Stoves have an advantage over fireplace inserts, as stoves will release heat from each of its sides.
Pellet stoves and inserts
While pellet stoves are an increasingly popular heating choice for people looking to lower their home heating costs, they aren’t ideal backup heaters for power outage situations. Pellet stoves need electricity to run the auger that feeds pellets from the hopper into the fire, and many require electricity to light. There are a few models of pellet stoves available with battery backups, however.
Emergency heating safety tips
Regardless of how you heat your home during a cold-weather power outage, there are several safety tips you should keep in mind.
Your fireplace or stove should not be left unattended while a fire is burning, and any flammable items, such as sleeping bags, pillows and blankets, should be kept away from the fireplace or stove. Your home should be outfitted with battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, and a fire extinguisher should be nearby.
If you want to make sure the fireplace, insert or stove you choose can be used as a backup heating source, consult your fireplace experts. A well-informed choice now can have you ready to keep your home and family warm during a power-outage emergency.