Wood-burning vs Gas Fireplaces

There’s nothing quite like a fireplace to cheer the soul; in many Texas homes, living rooms are the center of the home and a fireplace draws hearts together like no other centerpiece.

Throwing another log onto the fire is a nostalgic action, but is worth it?  Gas fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular and are often chosen over their traditional open wood-burning cousins.  Your custom home designer or architect can help you talk through the details of adding a fireplace to your custom home design, but let’s take a quick look at how they measure up.


Though a champion for creating a cozy atmosphere, wood-burning fireplaces fall behind gas fireplaces in heating.  The majority of the heat goes up the chimney, and this works to create a draft that actually causes other warm air in your house to take the same route out.  Wood-burning fireplaces get an efficiency rating of only 15 percent.  By comparison, gas fireplaces rate 75-99 percent on the efficiency scale and typically come in three types.  Inserts that can be installed in your existing fireplace, log sets that sit in your existing fireplace, and a completely built in fireplace.

Air Quality

Emissions are another thing to think about when considering which fireplace to choose.  Wood-burning fireplaces smell amazing, but that scent is actually a health and environmental hazard both in and outdoors.  Gas fireplaces produce about 0.28 pounds of pollutant particulates per one million BTUs of heat while wood-burning fireplaces produce 28 pounds.


Because real logs create ash and soot, fire-burning fireplaces require annual cleaning and check-ups to make sure that everything is clean and that there isn’t build-up that can lead to a fire hazard. Gas fireplaces also should be checked annually, but there is little more required than the occasional once-over with the duster.

Cost & Convenience

The cost of gas fireplaces compared to wood-burning fireplaces is about the same, wood and natural gas costs are not too different.  Your heat bill is where you might notice a large difference, gas fireplaces will probably enable you to keep your thermostat lower, while wood-burning fireplaces will require your heating system to work harder.  When it comes to convenience, you can’t beat a gas fireplace.  With the push of a button (perhaps even on a remote), you can start your fire.  Wood-burning fireplaces, on the other hand, might require you to pull your Boy Scout handbook out of storage.