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Published: Thursday, 9/17/2009

Find the Right Fireplace

(MS) -- Few home accessories add a more inviting touch than a fireplace. In addition to the warmth a fireplace provides, the cozy ambiance is also appealing to many homeowners. Even better, those looking to add a fireplace to their home now have an abundance of options to choose from.

* Masonry fireplace: Masonry fireplaces are popular in larger homes that boast high ceilings and bigger-than-average rooms. Masonry fireplaces are the type most people instantly picture when they think of a fireplace. However, they are not the most energy efficient option, as a large amount of heat typically escapes through the chimney.

* Gas fireplace: Gas fireplaces are not for the traditionalist, as they don't require wood or matches to create a fire. For many people, however, that's a bonus, as the gas fireplace can be turned on with the flip of a switch, providing immediate heat and ambiance.

* Wood-burning stove: A wood-burning stove is typically made from cast iron, which takes away from the image many people have of the traditional fireplace. Wood-burning stoves allow homeowners to determine their efficiency thanks to a controlled air feed that enables users to control the feed to the flame.

* Zero-clearance fireplace: A zero-clearance fireplace, also known as a prefabricated fireplace, is often the fireplace of choice for homeowners building their own homes because they are not heavy and can be easily installed. These fireplaces also have extra insulation, meaning they can be installed in close proximity to flammable materials.

* Electric fireplace: For homeowners who want a fireplace but are lacking one key element, a chimney, the electric fireplace can come to the rescue. While the ambiance might not be up to par with that of a masonry fireplace, electric fireplaces will put a significant dent in monthly heating costs.

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