The Competition Heats Up

Before central heating and thermostats, fireplaces were one of the more efficient ways to heat a space. But now with new construction, technological advances, changing lifestyles and a little thing called environmental responsibility, putting a fireplace in your home can be more indulgent than practical. Burning wood creates a lot of fumes, and more economical gas options typically just don't have the power to heat a large space.

If you live in a warmer climate like Southern California or Florida, you can get away with a less efficient fireplace more for cozy ambiance than survival. But if you live somewhere like Wisconsin, where temps can plunge double digits below zero, you want a lean, mean burning machine.
Enter the Blaze King. The Washington-based fireplace-maker has landed the top two spots on the Environmental Protection Agency's list of most efficient wood-burning products based on smoke and heat emissions. In truth, the winner isn't technically a fireplace at all. It's a wood stove. The King 1107 (pictured above) can hold up to 80 pounds of wood and can burn up to 40 hours on a low setting.
What Makes It So Efficient?

• The larger capacity holds more wood, which minimizes how often you have to open and reload the stove.

• Thermo-reactive fire brick liner radiates heat directly into the room -- unlike in traditional fireplaces, which let heat escape right up the chimney.

• Dual fans move air over the firebox to circulate into the home.

• Automatic thermostat adjusts and compensates for drafts and natural uneven burning of wood.
What Would Holmes on Homes Do?

Mike Holmes, general home construction expert and host of HGTV's 'Holmes on Homes' has a Blaze King Princess model in his own house -- the EPA's #2 most efficient wood-burner. Slightly smaller than the King, this model is 82.5% efficient by the EPA.

So wood stoves, who knew? There's a lot to choose from if efficient heat is your goal. If you're one of the lucky ones living in a warmer clime, you may need something a little sleeker, more decorative. That's a whole different story. To be continued...

Resources: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Blaze King