Yesterday we got our new fireplace insert installed. I have been wanting a fireplace insert ever since we bought our current house. I really enjoyed heating with wood in Indiana, and I really wanted a wood fireplace in the house we bought in Colorado, which we did get. However, we never actually had a fire in it, because I know that traditional fireplaces actually make your furnace work more. That is because most of the hot air from the fire goes right up the chimney, along with a bunch of other warm air from the room. An insert is basically a wood stove that is designed to fit in an existing fireplace.
Several weeks ago I got a flyer that said Inglenook Energy was having a sale on stoves and inserts, and that there is a new 30% tax credit for installing an energy efficient wood stove. Inglenook is in Conifer, which is up in the mountains southwest of Golden, so we thought it would be a nice drive if nothing else. We found the salespeople there to be very informative and helpful, and not pushy. They even had some baby toys for Spencer to play with, and gave us coffee while we pondered whether we could really afford an insert. After much deliberating, we decided on the JÃ¸tul 550 Rockland. We also considered a Quadrafire, but the JÃ¸tuls are cast-iron instead of steel, and they have a very good reputation. They are also visually more attractive than the Quadrafire, and weren’t that much more expensive.
We considered installing the insert ourselves, but given that it weighs 550 pounds, and that it also requires installing a stainless steel chimney liner and knocking out the existing flu (damper), we decided to go ahead and hire it out. Inglenook gave me numbers of four installers, and also contacted them. Two of the four contacted me, so I got quotes from both of them. Matt at Chimney Doctors was very thorough and knowledgeable. He explained the whole process of what he would do, including installing additional insulation around the stainless steel liner, which provides extra safety, as well as increased draft and reduced soot. I liked him very much, so we decided to go with them.
Along with buying the insert, I also needed to buy some firewood. I had a hard time finding websites advertising firewood. I ended up going with Ken Fischer, who advertised mixed hardwood as well as other soft woods. Most people in Colorado burn Pine or Fir. Ken delivered a full cord of mixed hardwood for $260. Most of the other places were charging about $230 for pine, so I thought it would be good to get the hardwood. He arrived yesterday morning a bit before the scheduled 10 a.m. appointment, and did a nice job unloading the wood onto the driveway. He even showed me all the different kinds of wood he was selling me, including silver maple, ash, oak, black walnut, birch, locust, and cottonwood. He gets his wood from the Denver area when people get trees removed.
The Chimney Doctors arrived around 11 a.m. with the fireplace insert and finished around 3 p.m. They did a really great job. They cleaned the chimney and fireplace first very well, and put down drop-cloths everywhere so they didn’t get anything dirty. Spencer was sleeping when they arrived, and continued to sleep through the vacuuming and the saws-all to get out the old damper. When they started using the sledgehammer to remove more of the masonry around the old damper, he finally woke up. He was then absolutely fascinated to watch them work.
It was fairly nice weather yesterday, so Spencer helped me stack a bunch of the firewood in the afternoon. Then I set out to make the first fire. As I had heard, it was a bit tricky to get it going since the firebox seals so well. It took me a couple tries, but I did get it going. Eventually I left the door open a bit until it caught really well. That seemed to work well and did not let smoke in the room. The Fedibbletys enjoyed hanging out in the living room last night in a balmy 68°F room. I don’t think the living room has been that warm since about October. Generally the living room had been about 2-3°F cooler than the rest of the house, partly because of the tall ceiling, but also because of the drafty chimney. When burning, the fireplace insert does a great job of heating the entire first floor. When we went to bed, we discovered that our bedroom was only 63°F, which is a great sleeping temperature with our warm down comforter, and there is not much need to heat the upstairs during the day, since we are mostly downstairs. Since Spencer doesn’t have a down comforter, I bought a space heater for his room a couple weeks ago, which is helping him sleep through the night, even when he kicks his covers off. I also measured the temperature in the living room this morning with no fire going, and it is now only about 0.5-1°F cooler in the living room than in the kitchen, so we are saving energy even with no fire going.
Needless to say, I am very happy with our new fireplace insert.