Many people use their fireplaces to reduce their reliance on gas and electricity and cut down on energy expenses. But what if using your fireplace does the opposite? This post looks at ways your chimney and fireplace can increase your energy bills and how to make them more efficient.
How Fireplaces & Chimneys Cause Energy Bills to Rise
Before delving into ways to make your fireplace and chimney more energy efficient, let’s look at problems that could lead to energy loss. Despite what many people think, fireplaces aren’t the most efficient heating sources because they draw air from inside the house and vent it up the chimney. In other words, the fireplace and chimney system remove the heat they produce. Moreover, a fireplace needs constant airflow to keep the fire going. This air comes from vents, drafty windows, and doors.
So, when it’s cold, your fireplace pulls a lot of air out of the house, which could make your furnace work harder to make up the difference in heat.
According to the EPA, Generally, a wood-burning fireplace is an inefficient way to heat your home. Fireplace drafts can pull the warm air up the chimney, causing other rooms to be cooler. Another cause of energy inefficiency lies with the chimney. If your chimney is dirty or blocked, it reduces airflow, affecting the log’s combustion. Poor combustion produces less heat, causing your furnace or heater to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.
How to Increase Fireplace & Chimney Efficiency
This might seem like bad news for fireplace owners, but you don’t have to give up enjoying a beautiful fire because there are easy ways to make it more energy efficient and reduce your utility bills.
Install a Fireback
A fireback is a metal piece (typically stainless steel or cast iron) attached to the back of your fireplace to protect the wall from the extreme temperatures and reflect your fireplace’s heat back into the house.
Install Glass Doors
Another easy and inexpensive way to improve your fireplace’s efficiency is to install glass doors. Glass doors help your fire to burn more efficiently, and they make your fireplace safer too, which is beneficial if you have small children or pets in the house.
Use Your Damper to Control Heat
The fireplace damper is a device above the firebox you open and close to control airflow. Open the damper all the way to get your fire going, then draw it back a little to keep more heat in the home. You can experiment with opening and closing the damper to get the desired temperature, but you should never close it completely when burning a fire because it will expose your family to toxic carbon monoxide. When the fire goes out, close the damper to keep the heat and reduce the need to use your heater or furnace.
Keep Your Chimney Clean
As mentioned, a dirty or blocked chimney makes your fireplace less efficient because it reduces the airflow it needs to burn hot. Moreover, creosote buildup and other blockages put you at risk of a chimney fire. Hiring a certified chimney sweep for annual cleaning and maintenance ensures your chimney is safe and functions as intended.
Crack Open a Window
Because your fireplace relies on air to burn efficiently and draws so much from your house, it’s helpful to crack open a window near the fireplace, so it can draw in the air it needs from the outside instead of the rooms you’re trying to heat.
Use Your Ceiling Fan
If you have a ceiling fan, turn it on to circulate the heat throughout the house. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, set your HVAC fan on manual to help spread the warm air.
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