We love our fireplaces. Fireplaces provide a bear hugging warmth in the dead of winter that just can not be replaced by any other type of heating. This said all fireplaces are not created equal. You have fireplaces that just give you atmosphere, others give a very efficient way to heat your home and some give you both.
When buying a home with a fireplace there is some things to consider. The first question is it safe? The next question is it efficient? What is the benefits?
To make sure the fireplace is safe be sure to have the fireplace WETT certified. What is WETT? From their website it reads:
“Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. (WETT Inc.) is a non-profit training and education association managed by a volunteer Board of Directors elected by holders of valid WETT certificates. Through its administrative designate, WETT Inc. functions as the national registrar of the WETT program. Through professional training and public education, WETT Inc. promotes the safe and effective use of wood burning systems in Canada.” http://www.wettinc.ca/what.html
To have a fireplace WETT certified you would hire a certified WETT technician to inspect the fireplace to determine it is safe. If it is safe the technician and company will certify that the fireplace is up to code and safe to use.
The next question is the fireplace efficient. Conventional wood fireplaces are inefficient. They may steal more heat from your home then they produce. In the best case scenario it provides you with a nice light source.
Airtight stoves and inserts are advanced combustion fireplaces that can offer high levels of energy efficiency. These devices can reduce dramaticly the overall demand of other fuels heating the home if not replace them.