Is Your Old Wood Fireplace Draining Your Budget?
Fireplaces and winter go together like campfires and toasted marshmallows. And there’s nothing more reminiscent of simpler times than living in a home with a handsome old wood fireplace and gathering around the crackling fire. But these old fireplaces, as decadent as they are, were not designed with energy efficiency in mind. After decades of standing up to the environment and adverse weather conditions, rotting and other deterioration issues can take a heavy toll on your wallet. Fortunately, there are few things you can do to prevent your old wood fireplace from burning a hole in your budget.
Depending on the condition of your fireplace or chimney, it may need extensive repairs and restoration to bring it back to life. Especially if it has not been used or maintained for quite some time. While restoration and remodeling can be costly, a restored old wood fireplace will bring years of warmth and enjoyment for you and your family. It may even improve the value of your home, as working fireplaces are a desired feature among many home buyers.
Install a fireplace insert
If rebuilding your fireplace is not in the budget, a fireplace insert is an affordable way to transform an old wood fireplace into a modern energy-efficient heating source. These self-contained units operate like wood stoves and fit right inside the fireplace. In fact, newer wood-burning heating appliances are as much as 50 percent more energy efficient, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They also provide the same amount of heat using 30 percent less wood to fuel the source. That’s a big savings in your energy bill. In addition to wood-burning, gas and electric fireplace inserts are also available. Fireplace inserts should always be installed by a certified chimney professional, especially in older wood fireplaces. This will ensure you have the right size for your chimney.
Use one heat source at a time
Many older homes have been modernized with an electric or gas central heating system. If your home has both a fireplace and central heat, don’t use both heating sources at the same time. Otherwise, the warmed air in your home will go up the chimney along with the cost of your heating bill. Instead, invest in a heat exchanger to circulate warm air from the fireplace throughout the house.
Use tempered glass fireplace doors
Installing a tempered glass fireplace door in a traditional wood-burning fireplace can improve efficiency by about 20 percent. Not only do they help seal off drafts when the fireplace is not use, they also help radiate warmth throughout the entire room.
Replace the damper
The damper is a metal plate that seals the chimney from the outside world when the fireplace is not in use. But dampers usually warp over time, allowing outside air, water and other debris to seep into the fireplace. If you have an older home, contact a certified chimney sweep to determine if the damper needs to be replaced. Also, remember to close the damper whenever you’re not burning a fire. This will help keep heat loss to a minimum and save you money on heating bills.