How to Make a Fireplace More Efficient

A Few Tips on How to Improve your Fireplace’s Efficiency

By Mark J. Donovan

The warm glow of a fire emanating from your wood fireplace on a cold winter night sounds romantic and inviting, and for the few hours that it is actually burning it may even make you feel warmer. However the cold facts are that a wood burning fireplace is extremely inefficient and you are letting more heat up the chimney than you are warming the house. And even worse, after the fire peters out, the chimney will continue to suck warm air out of your home.

Fortunately there are ways to make a fireplace more efficient so that you can enjoy the warm glow of your fireplace and even get some heat out of it, without throwing money up your fireplace chimney.

Steps on How to Make a Fireplace More Efficient

Close Fireplace Damper

First, when you are not using the fireplace make sure the fireplace damper is closed. Leaving the fireplace damper open allows warm air to be sucked up and out of the home via the fireplace chimney.

Install Fireplace Glass Doors

Second, install fireplace glass doors over the front of the fireplace box opening. There are numerous glass fireplace doors that you can choose from that are designed to fit most standard sized fireplace box openings. By installing fireplace glass doors, you can dramatically improve your fireplace’s heating efficiency. First, by keeping the fireplace doors closed when the fireplace is not in use, or when the fire is nearly out, you can prevent warm house air from escaping the home.

Second, most fireplaces have a cold air vent for drawing in fresh outside air to feed the fire, so when the fire has begun to die down you can close the fireplace glass doors and allow the fire to slowly burn out.

Note that when you have a roaring fire in the fireplace or many hot coal embers, leave the fireplace glass doors open, but with the protective screen closed. Fireplace glass doors are not meant to withstand repeated high heat exposures. If they are continuously exposed to high heat, they will eventually crack.

Install a Cast Iron Fireback

Third, install a cast iron fireback in the back of your fireplace box. A cast iron fireback not only protects the back masonry of your fireplace, but also absorbs heat and helps to reflect fire light and heat out into the room.

Finally, you can maximize your fireplace’s efficiency by installing a wood burning insert. Though installing a wood burning insert is admittedly quite expensive, it is by far the best way to maximize your fireplace’s efficiency. A wood stove by design is simply much more energy efficient than a fireplace. There are many types of wood stove inserts to choose from and many offer glass windows for viewing the fire.

Installing Fireplace Glass Doors

By installing a wood burning insert into your fireplace with a glass front you can make your fireplace more efficient while at the same time still maintaining the fireplace’s warm glow and charm.

So before you let any more heat up your chimney consider improving your fireplace’s efficiency with one or more of these tips.

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