If you have a home where some or all of the heat comes from your fireplace or wood stove, you may want to consider investing the money in a conversion or improvement to get the most out of your fuel. There are a number of ways to do this. Some of them may require an outlay of cash, but they will end up saving you many times that amount in heating bills, wood purchase and time.
The first way to improve your fireplace’s efficiency is the simplest: clean it! Chimneys blocked by creosote and soot not only endanger your home through the risk of chimney fires and dangerous gas emissions into the home, they also prevent the fire from getting the oxygen it needs. Consequently, it takes more energy for the fire to provide heat to a room or home.
You might think that chimney sweeps disappeared with the Industrial Revolution, but the profession is still alive and well. A professional chimney sweep can clean your chimney and give you some good advice on how to keep it cleaner. If you choose to clean the chimney yourself, be prepared for several hours of dirty, hard work! Take some measurements of your fireplace and chimney with you to the fireplace/wood stove supply store or online to get the correct size cleaning tools.
A “draft eliminator” is an inflatable balloon that you can pop inside your fireplace when it’s not in use. This will save you a good chunk of money when it comes to stopping cold air from entering your home through the chimney. It can also guard against wildlife paying you a visit through the chimney. The inflatable nature of the product enables it to effectively seal most of the chimney and stay secure. It is not as efficient as a damper, but it is cheaper and a great temporary solution to a broken damper.
Installing a damper is a really good permanent solution to drafts from the chimney. It is more efficient than a draft stopper and more suitable for a home where the fireplace is used frequently. With regular maintenance, a damper can virtually seal your fireplace and chimney from drafts and unwanted pests and will be serviceable for years.
An outside air intake next to the fireplace can help the fire get oxygen without pulling cool air from all areas of the house to the fireplace. It can also reduce drafts and your gas/wood usage. An easy source of cool air will make the fire heat your whole house more efficiently.
By installing an outside air intake next to your fireplace you can reduce the amount of space that the cool air has to travel through the home and reduce uncomfortable drafts. Just like any fire, your fireplace requires oxygen for the wood to burn. When in use, your fireplace will draw inside air to combust the fire. Whether it be heated air sitting dormant in your home or pulling in outside air from the small cracks in your doors and windows, this situation is very inefficient. The best way to solve this problem is controlling where the outside air is drawn in from to eliminate uncomfortable drafts and high gas bills.
A fireplace insert is one of the best ways to improve your fireplace’s efficiency. With a radiant glass door, fireplace efficiency can be improved up to 90%. Plus, a glass cover means you can enjoy the warmth and beauty of fire without worrying about sparks and the influx of dirt. EPA-certified inserts are even more efficient at containing warmth and toxic fumes.
If you really want to up your fireplace’s efficiency and don’t mind how you do it, an EPA-certified wood stove may be a good solution. Inserting an energy-efficient wood stove into your fireplace can instantly pay off in terms of heating and emission control. Plus, as wood and pellet stoves become more popular, there are more options for converting your fireplace to accommodate a good stove. Plus, you’ll have something to warm hot chocolate up on!
There are many ways you can up the efficiency of your fireplace. With a wise outlay of money, you could find yourself using significantly less fuel and heating your home for longer using this form of sustainable heating.