For cozy nights and comfortable days, you can't beat the heat of some of the most innovative hearth products on the market.
Over the past few years, the role hearths play in the American home has grown by leaps and bounds, from a primarily decorative crackling wood fire to a way to cut energy costs dramatically by using cutting-edge energy sources. Here are some of our favorite options.
1. Jotul: F 370 Wood Stove
Ah, those Scandinavians. They're forever making us smile with design panache. Just check out Jotul's F 370 wood stove. Eschewing classic styling, the company recently introduced a sleek, modern-looking stove that won a 2006 Vesta Award for innovation in design and technology. (www.jotul.us)
2. Tulikivi: Soapstone Hearths
Each Tulikivi fireplace is formed from native Finnish soapstone, which retains heat better than most materials. In fact, soapstone stores heat so effectively that just three hours of operating a Tulikivi fireplace will provide enough heat to warm most homes for 24 hours. Sure, the price tag is a little steep ($5,500), but the payoff is tough to match. Oh, and did we mention that they?re gorgeous? (www.tulikivi.com)
3. Heat & Glo: Soho
A big misconception about hearths is that they require messy, time-consuming and expensive installations. Heat & Glo?s new Soho gas-fueled fireplace puts this myth to rest. The Soho mounts to a wall like a picture frame and requires only 12 inches of depth behind it. Once the opening is cut, the SoHo can be installed as is or finished with a frame or an elegant surround. And despite its small profile, the Soho unit generates 12,000 BTUs of heat. We?re impressed, especially by the $1,500 price tag. (www.heatnglo.com)
4. Heat Wave: Heat-Powered Fan
Wood- and pellet-fueled fireplaces and stoves are appealing to many homeowners because they boast a self-sustaining fuel source. The irony is that most of these stoves still rely on ?the grid? for the electricity to power the fan. Not anymore, thanks to Heat Wave?s heat-powered fan. Heat from the fire fuels the hearth?s fan?ditching electricity. We like that it also provides up to a 35 percent increase in heating efficiency and a nice price tag of $200. (www.thermalengines.com)
5. Heat & Glo: Aqueon
Talk about space-age technology. This product?s claim to techno fame features a process that splits hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then used to fuel the fire while oxygen provides color to the flames. (The rest of the oxygen is released into the room.) The Aqueon from Heat & Glo eats a half-gallon of water an hour, but it doesn?t require venting or produce dangerous emissions. It also cranks out 31,000 BTUs of heat and is the cleanest-burning fireplace on the planet. You?ll be able to purchase the firewater hearth within the next several months. (www.heatnglo.com)
6. Quadra-Fire: Mt. Vernon Pellet Stove
Quadra-Fire didn?t invent the pellet stove, but the company might have perfected it with the Mt. Vernon, arguably the Rolls Royce of pellet stoves. Capable of producing 60,000 BTUs of heat, this baby can warm 3,000 square feet easily, making it a no-brainer for keeping any great room toasty. We love the five different finishes and the fact that wood pellets are incredibly cheap. Prices for the Mt. Vernon begin at $2,500. (www.quadrafire.com)