Friday, January 8, 2010

Amish Fireplaces

Advertisements for the “Heat Surge miracle heater” have been popping up everywhere—between your favorite TV-shows, on the Web or cleverly disguised as news articles in locals papers. While the Alliance for Green Heat isn’t directly concerned with electric heaters, we met with Amish salespeople marketing these units at a Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) Expo and we decided to look into this miracle heater.

Advertisements for these fireplaces (electric heaters, encased in Amish-made oak mantelpiece) claim that they use 9 cents of electricity per hour, give the impression of a real fire and that they are free. But, as David Wood of Consumer Affairs points out in his article “How miraculous is the Amish fireplace?” the ads are misleading on most accounts.

The best things in life are free, or the saying goes. Unfortunately, for consumers, these products are neither. As most people who called the Heat Surge hotline found out, a heater by itself costs $249. If a customer buys the Amish mantle for $298 (that’s excluding shipping and handling costs), the heater is thrown in for free.

As for energy efficiency, the fireplace produces the same amount of BTUs that a $25 or $50 one produces.  Electric resistance heating is usually the most expensive heat and it only makes economic sense to use such heaters very sparingly.

Consumers are lured in with antiquated images of buggies hoisting away mantles and Amish craftsmen toiling over the products. Many have questioned the authenticity of the Amish involvement. Only the mantels are made by the Amish in Ohio. As for the heating units, they are made in China.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you've blown the lid off this. I thought it looked like a scam when I saw the ads in the New York Times. How even more depressing to see the actual heating unit itself comes from China, the shipping of which halfway across the globe is not only *not* green but also likely enriches the People's Liberation Army's for-profit shipper COSCO.