Understanding Fireplace Efficiencies

By Mike Eide

We get many questions about fireplace efficiencies and why certain fireplace efficiencies seem higher than others. Are you aware that fireplaces are being legislated to be more efficient energy users?

Old Methods

Different methods have been used to measure the efficiency of gas fireplaces. Steady state (SS) and annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings are based on test methods originally created for wall heaters, space heaters and furnaces. The energy efficiency numbers generated by these test methods did not reflect the actual energy performance of gas fireplaces.

The New Standard

Working with the fireplace industry, the Government of Canada set out to develop a new test method for gas fireplaces. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) P.4.1-02 test method, introduced in 2003, was developed as a consensus standard (keep in mind, there is no such thing as a perfect standard). It mainly provides an “apples-to-apples” comparison when appliances are operated in a realistic mode using a standardized test methodology. The test method generates an FE (Fireplace Efficiency) rating, expressed as a percent efficiency – the higher the number, the more energy efficient the product.

EnerGuide and Gas Fireplaces

The EnerGuide label is well recognized by Canadian consumers as in important tool in assisting them to understand and compare energy efficiency. With the increased focus of Canadian consumers on both the cost and environmental impacts of energy, the EnerGuide rating for gas fireplaces, such as Mr. Fireplaces selection of “Heatilator” fireplaces meet and exceed today’s increasingly more regulated standards. Higher-efficiency equipment uses less energy and the savings realized from lower energy use will accumulate over the lifetime of the equipment. As well, using less energy reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

The EnerGuide rating will be found on manufacturers’ product literature. The FE will be inserted in an easily identifiable EnerGuide label format and presented in one of two ways depending on whether the product literature lists only a single model or multiple models.

Examples of the EnerGuide logo required on gas fireplace literature.

Now You Have a Choice

All fireplaces are required to be tested to the EnerGuide testing standard, but only a select few have the EnerChoice designation. The EnerChoice stamp of approval is reserved for products that meet or exceed efficiency levels as determined by an independent committee managed by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada. When a gas fireplace, stove or insert is endorsed by the EnerChoice logo, this approval is your assurance that these units are “amoung the most efficient of gas hearth products available in that category.” EnerChoice can only be applied to free-standing stoves that are 66% or higher, fireplaces that are 62.4% or higher and inserts that are 61% and higher. Gas logs do not have an EnerGuide number – therefore treat as “0%”

The EnerChoice logo is reserved for the top of their respective categories of Gas fireplaces