A few years ago, our power bill would run nearly $300 during the winter. Most of that was spent on our electric heat during our coldest months. Our house is less than 900 sq ft but very poorly insulated (and without any options to add insulation). Electric heat is expensive but it was our only real consistent option. We also have a propane heater but with the cost of gas rising using propane regularly wasn’t much more cost-effective.
We started throwing around some outside the box ideas and hubby wanted to install a fireplace. I’ll admit that I was immediately resistant to the idea. It just seemed to be asking for trouble. For another year we paid between $250 – $300 for the worst of our winter months. We struggled to get the ridiculously high power bills paid (always around Christmas time) and we still weren’t able to stay very warm in the house. We also have to use electric space heaters (the ceramic fully enclosed radiator styles – not the open fire hazard ones) in the bedrooms at night.
A couple of months into the next winter, I agreed that hubby could install a fireplace if we didn’t have to put out a lot of money to put the fireplace in and if we could do it without significantly raising our insurance premiums. I called the insurance company first and surprisingly enough adding the fireplace wouldn’t raise our premiums. Started looking for the items we would need. He quickly found a new, discontinued fireplace with doors for $50 and then a chimney for about $25. He had a harder time finding the stove-pipe that would connect the fireplace to the chimney but eventually he found some that he could custom order for length online. He was able to get it fabricated and delivered for right around $180. He installed the fireplace in a couple of days but we waited several months (of building fires so we could watch for any potential problems) before we built a wall to close it all in.
We were very pleased to see our power bills during the winter months drop by almost half after the first month of fireplace use. We still use electric heat and some propane at night but with the fireplace we are able to get the house warmer during the day so we are able to keep the electric heat from having to kick on as early or struggle as much to keep up with the cold.
After several months, we did build a wall to close the fireplace and give the room a more finished look. We had spent $255 on the fireplace and had basically gotten to the break even point with the power bill in the first couple of months so I wasn’t really interested in adding a lot of extra money to pretty things up. So we made do with what we had and went for a rustic look. Hubby had some metal siding from a barn that had been damaged in a storm. He pulled some wood from another damaged barn. He collected large, flat rocks from a pasture and used them for the hearth. He did spend about $25 on some wood to frame the wall and some mortar for the hearth. We were still well under $300 for the whole project.
This picture is from last Christmas and apparently before hubby completely trimmed out the fireplace. The wood that frames the wall also now frames the actual fireplace. The frame hanging on the fireplace for a Christmas gift to hubby from his brother. I still haven’t put anything in the frame because I like the way it looks empty.
After doing the fireplace wall with reclaimed materials, I told hubby that I actually really like the look and would like to use the same materials for the wall that our fireplace will be in once we build our house. (The flash made the colors of the metal look more harsh than they actually do).