Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fire Power

Fireplaces have irresistible appeal. Just picturing a fireplace conjures feelings of warmth and coziness. Even in warmer climates where people don’t rely on them for heat, fireplaces add charm, character and value — about $12,000 per fireplace, according to the National Association oF REAlTORS ® — to homes. They lend ambiance to just about any room, and with so many varieties and options available, it’s easy to see why people want them.

If you don’t have a fireplace in your home, it’s easier than you might think to add one — without undergoing a complete remodel or major construction. Gas and electric models are more popular and in some states are the only ones allowed. They are also more affordable than ever and easy to install. And with so many options for every space and budget, the hardest part is choosing one that best suits your needs.

If you do have a fireplace in your home, whether it’s the wood-burning, gas or electric variety, the most important factor is maintenance. Like cars, fireplaces need annual tune-ups. If you have a chimney-based fireplace — traditional wood-burning or top-vent gas — you should have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney at least once a year or after approximately 80 fires. It’s also a good idea to have a certified service technician come out once a year to inspect other types of gas fireplaces and to replace bulbs on electric units.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Energy Efficient Mortgages Program helps homebuyers and homeowners save money on utility bills by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy-efficient features to new or existing homes as part of their FHA-insured home purchase or refinancing mortgage.

No comments: