Increase the Fireplace Energy Efficiency All Year Long
Your fireplace is a source of heat during the colder months, so you definitely want to get the most out of it in those seasons. A fireplace also can be a source of cold air coming into your home in the winter and warm air coming into your home in the summer, so you definitely want to address problems in these areas.
Here is what you need to know to increase the energy efficiency of your fireplace all year long.
When the fireplace isn’t in use
A drafty fireplace can play havoc with your heating and cooling bills when the fireplace isn’t being used. Fortunately, there are some ways you can stop these drafts and keep the temperature inside your home more stable.
Chimney balloons: These devices sit above the damper and when inflated create a solid seal to keep air from traveling in either direction.
Flue sealers: Similar in effect to chimney balloons, flue sealers are made of hard plastic and are installed just below the damper to create an air-tight seal.
Glass fireplace doors: Fireplace doors cover the perimeter of the firebox opening and prevent the exchange of air.
Fireplace damper: A well-functioning fireplace damper will go a long way in keeping air from moving up and down the flue. The suggestions above are for added protection. If you suspect or know that your damper is in disrepair, consider having it replaced.
When the fireplace is in use
Particularly with traditional masonry fireplaces, homeowners are always wanting to know how to increase their fireplace’s heat efficiency. With masonry fireplaces, there isn’t a whole lot you can do. However, a trick many homeowners have discovered is to add a fireplace insert.
Inserts are factory-built to fit perfectly inside the firebox of a masonry fireplace. These appliances run on a closed-combustion system that can double or triple the amount of heat you’re getting from a masonry fireplace. Venting is still done through the chimney, but usually a special pipe is used that can accommodate the intense heat produced by an insert. You can purchase a gas insert and get the same benefits but with more ease of operation.
Some fireplaces can accommodate blowers, or heat-exchangers, which push heat from the firebox out into the room before it can rise up the flue. Many new fireplace models come with blowers installed.
What you can do on your own
You can increase the heat and burn efficiency of your fires by using only dry, seasoned wood logs. These logs burn more thoroughly and produce more consistent heat with far less smoke than wood that is still damp.
A thorough fireplace and chimney inspection is a good place to start when your goal is improved energy efficiency from your fireplace in all seasons.
Northeastern Chimney of West Hartford, CT, performs complete chimney inspection services, chimney sweep services and installation of new home-heating appliances. We can help you make your fireplace more efficient all year long. Call us with questions at (860) 233-5770.