There’s nothing quite like the roar of a fire coming from your fireplace to warm you up in the winter. Even so, your fireplace could actually cause you to lose a great deal of heat whenever it’s not in use. In order to ensure your structure is as energy efficient as possible, here are a few steps you can take that will help you keep heat inside your home rather than allowing it to go up the chimney.
Damper fireplace damper, usually located just above the firebox, is a device designed to seal your fireplace shut when it is not in use. It can be easy to forget to close your damper whenever it’s not in use; however, this is one of the most common ways that energy is lost through a fireplace. Not only is it important to close your damper, but you should also have it inspected from time to time in order to ensure that the metal plates fit snugly against the flue. These can easily become warped over time, but replacing them could help you realize greater energy savings. If you’d like, you could also install a top-sealing chimney damper to help improve energy efficiency even more. This device is located at the top of your chimneystack, and automatically opens and closes your damper as needed. Installing a top-sealing damper can help eliminate air that’s lost when cooling your home as well since it works year round.
Fireplace Doors Not only should you keep your damper closed, but your fireplace doors should remain shut when not in use also. If you’re looking to replace your fireplace door, choose one with tempered glass, as this material provides a great deal of insulation against the cold. Some models contain screen mesh so that you can leave the doors open whenever you have a fire going, but close tightly to protect children and pets when not in use. You could also install a door that has a heat exchange system that would allow warm air to be blown throughout the room, making it possible to completely heat smaller rooms without the need for another heat source.
Chimney Liner When your fireplace is in use, a great deal of air could be lost through the cracks in your masonry. Not only that, but creosote could build up and make burning wood inside it hazardous due to the increased risk of fire. Installing a chimney liner can make it easier to remove creosote while also preventing air loss. This is one of the most cost-efficient upgrades you can consider since chimney liners are relatively inexpensive and can be expected to last a number of years without warping.
FirebackIn order to project heat back into your room, consider the use of a fire back. A fire back is essentially a piece of thick iron that is placed on the back of your fireplace opening. Its purpose is to retain heat that might be lost up the chimney and then reflect it back into the room. These units have been used since the 1500s, and can be found in a number of sizes and styles; some can even contain intricate carvings on them as well.
Fireplace Insert Wood stoves are generally more energy efficient than masonry fireplaces are, which is why adding an insert could be a good idea. A fireplace insert is basically a wood stove that is designed to fit into a fireplace opening and is used in much the same manner. Inserts can be designed to burn wood logs or bio-fuel pellets, which means they can also increase the functionality of your fireplace. Best of all, they typically contain glass fronts that allow you to see the fire as it is burning. This is a major draw for many people, as the sight of a wood fire tends to make a room feel cozy and inviting, even on the coldest of winter days.
Regular Inspections The best way to ensure the energy efficiency of your fireplace is to have regular inspections performed. That way, you can be aware of any problems that could result in heat loss before they wind up costing your energy dollars. Regular inspections will also help you ensure that your fireplace is safe to use, and this could be important information to show your insurance company if you were to suffer a loss due to a fire.
No matter how old your fireplace is, there are several things you can do to increase its energy efficiency. That way, you can continue to enjoy the warmth and comfort it provides without your hard-earned heating dollars going up in smoke along with your fire.
Anne Petri, a frequent contributor for ElectricFireplacesCanada.ca, is a DIY home improvement expert and interior design consultant.