6 Smart Ways to Maximize Fireplace Heating Efficiency
Many homeowners look forward to the comforting sights, sounds, and aromas of a traditional wood-burning fireplace experience. Unfortunately, a traditional fireplace is not a very efficient source of home heating. That’s because as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of the heat produced exits the chimney. The following six tips will help you maximize the heating efficiency of your wood-burning fireplace.
Insulate the Chimney
The primary function of the chimney is to expel smoke and fumes. But much of the heated air goes out of the fireplace too. Insulating your flue can prevent some of the heat loss. Many older homes have unlined chimneys or clay tile liners that need repair or replacement and are contributing to the heat loss. Installing a UL listed stainless steel chimney liner will retain more heat while reducing downdrafts. And insulating the steel liner will maximize its efficiency even further.
Seal Windows and Doors
Air leaks in the windows and doors can make your home feel drafty even when there is a roaring fire in the fireplace. Sealing any air pockets in the windows, doors, walls, ceiling, and fireplace is an inexpensive way to prevent heat loss that can add up to 30 percent in energy savings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Install Glass Fireplace Doors
The fireplace itself is another source of heat loss. Many homeowners prefer an open fire to enjoy the crackling flames. But this also allows the cooler air drawn into the chimney to escape into your living space.
Installing a tempered glass fireplace door will help retain more heat inside the firebox. The best door to get is one that completely seals the firebox when shut. Just remember to close the door when the fire is out.
Close the Damper When the Fire is Out
The damper needs to be open to allow oxygen to be drawn into the chimney to fuel the fire and expel the smoke and fumes. Otherwise, carbon monoxide can back-up into your living space. But many homeowners forget to close the damper after extinguishing the fire, losing much of the generated heat. When the fire is completely burned out, close the damper to prevent heat loss. Also, when the fire is burning, you can partially close the damper to maximize heating efficiency while still expelling the fumes.
Chimney Inspection and Cleaning
One of the easiest and fastest ways to reduce heat loss in your home is with annual chimney inspections and cleanings. Excessive accumulation of creosote, for instance, is not only a potential fire hazard but also reduces heating efficiency. During a visual inspection, the technician will examine the entire chimney structure and fireplace to determine its condition.
Based on the evaluation, the technician may recommend repairs like fixing spalling bricks and water leaks, chimney cleaning, and other improvements that will increase the safety and performance of your fireplace and chimney.
Install a Fireplace Insert
When it comes to improving heating efficiency, installing a fireplace insert is a game-changer. Like the name implies, fireplace inserts fit directly inside a masonry fireplace. Since most of the heat is contained within the unit, you can increase heating efficiency by up to 90 percent or more. An optional blower motor is available with many models that can radiate heated air throughout an entire room.