As you sit by the fireplace enjoying the glow on these cold winter nights, are you content knowing you’re using a renewable fuel to warm your home? Depending on the type of fireplace you have, it may actually waste more energy than it creates throughout the season. The problem is that most heat goes up the chimney, drawing cold air into the house to replace the heated air. When a fire isn’t burning, warm air can still escape through the chimney. Many products are promoted as increasing the efficiency of your fireplace, but not all of them are as effective — or safe — as you might like them to be.
To make your fireplace truly efficient, you’ll want to install an insert approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A fireplace insert is basically a woodstove that fits into a masonry fireplace. Within the last 15 years, fireplace inserts have become much more energy efficient. “To improve efficiency and reduce standby losses, this is the only option I recommend. To be safe and effective, the insert must have a stainless steel liner run right to the top of the chimney,” Gulland says. Estimated cost: $3,000 and up.
If you’re not using your fireplace regularly, inflatable plugs can stop warm air from going up the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. Estimated cost: $50 to $70.
For more information on fireplaces, read Choose a Fireplace for Beauty and Warmth.
Do you have other suggestions for making fireplaces more efficient? Share them in the comments section.
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