Fireplaces create a cozy and warm atmosphere in your living area and nothing beats the crackle and snap of a blazing fire on a chilly, winter night.

But many homeowners come to view the effort required to maintain a wood-burning fireplace -- including hauling or stacking wood, cleaning up ash after a fire and safety issues concerning sparks -- as cumbersome.

If you are considering switching to a gas fireplace or you are updating a room/completing a remodel, you will need to consider the differences between gas logs and gas inserts.

While either product will certainly be more convenient (enabling you to heat your home with the flip of a switch), it's important to choose the option that best complements your home and your style.

Gas logs

Gas logs are decorative and authentic in nature, are designed to look like burning wood and can be installed in your existing fireplace opening.

Many homeowners like the realistic look of and the ease of using the gas logs (flame at the touch of a match, a switch that ignites a pilot light to start the flames or remote control).

Gas logs will also emit more heat than a wood-burning stove, will not produce creosote buildup in the fireplace and will minimize the risk of flames that crackle, pop or flicker.

Gas logs are less expensive to install than a gas insert, which is helpful if you are working within a budget when upgrading your fireplace.

Gas logs come in a variety of burners and log types allowing you to choose between a contemporary or traditional look in your home.

If you choose to use glass doors, you can keep the doors open (and the doors should be open when in use if applicable). However, there is no need for the additional cost of glass doors -- something to consider when determining your budget.

Northwest Metalcraft offers logs sets by Empire Comfort Systems (White Mountain Hearth) that replicate real wood and Rasmussen (FireBalls™, FireShapes™, FireStones™, FireGlitter®) that offer different flame patterns and installation options, allowing you to create the perfect look for your home.

Gas inserts

Like gas logs, gas inserts can be installed in an existing prefabricated or masonry fireplace and ventilated through the existing chimney.

Gas inserts are furnace-rated appliances that can be used as a zone heater focused on heating a specific area of your home -- which can potentially reduce your heating bill.

Gas fireplace inserts are installed as a sealed system with a glass door. As a sealed system, no air from inside the home will escape through the fireplace or chimney, making this fireplace option more energy efficient as you can control the temperature of a specific room.

A gas insert also features a blower that pushes warm air into the room for more powerful heating, as opposed to just radiating heat out naturally. As a result, gas inserts are much more efficient heaters than gas log sets, with efficiency rated between 70 and 85 percent. However, while gas inserts are less expensive to operate than gas logs, they are more expensive to purchase and install.

Gas inserts are available in a variety of sizes and heating capacities, so you can purchase and install one that suits the heating needs of your specific living space. For example, you can choose a model with adjustable flames so you can control the amount of warmth it gives off.

Typically, gas inserts are capable of heating spaces that range between 1,000 and 3,000 square feet. Once installed, gas inserts require little maintenance other than an annual service checkup.

Northwest Metalcraft offers beautiful home heating solutions by Regency and Mendota. A Regency gas fireplace insert offers dancing flames and glowing embers, realistic logs or Horizon burners with glistening fire beads or crystals.

With a Mendota gas fireplace insert, you can create a room with the colors, textures and shapes you love, using elements like glass fire stones, natural river rock or panoramic panels that expand and amplify the nuances of the fire.

Both offer tasteful options and accessories to tailor the look of the gas fireplace insert to your home.

When shopping for a new gas fireplace solution, it is essential to do your research as it relates to building codes so that you install the proper system in your home. If you are interested in simplifying your home heating method or upgrading and updating your fireplace by installing gas logs or a gas fireplace insert, you will experience the convenience and luxury of enjoying warmth and comfort with the touch of a button! Northwest Metalcraft can provide you with the options you need to design the most important room in your home!

This story is sponsored by Northwest Metalcraft. For more information, visit www.nwmetalcraft.com or call (847) 253-1905.