Make Your Fireplace More Efficient: 5 Optimization Tips
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Everyone- or nearly everyone- has a favorite wintertime activity. Some prefer sledding, some snowball fights, some backyard ice rinks, and still others create a snowman and try to bring it to life in order to perform wedding ceremonies. But regardless of how you like to spend your times outdoors, nearly everyone loves coming inside to snuggle up to a warm fire. The problem, though, is that while fireplaces are an excellent way to be comfortable and can make a room beautiful, older models tend not to be very energy efficient, and can make your house colder. Here are five things you can do to make your fireplace warmer, more economical, and perhaps more beautiful.
ADD GLASS FIREPLACE DOORS
One thing a lot of people don’t realize about fireplaces is that, while they create that cozy ring of warmth, it is just a bubble, and outside that bubble it is oftentimes colder than it would be without the fireplace. Fireplaces actually suck warm air out of your house and up the chimney. Also, when the fireplace is off, cold air can get in through the chimney, making your house colder. A nice set of glass doors in front of the fireplace are aesthetically pleasing and can help prevent that air intake/outtake. They can be open or closed while the fire is going, but having them closed when it is not will save you heat and money. They also help during the summer, when a fire is the last thing on your mind, by preventing your AC-cooled air from escaping into the heat.
Fireplace inserts are a newer development that helps maximize heat transfer. An insert is essentially a closed system of steel placed in the fireplace that is powered by gas, wood, pellets, etc. It also has a glass door, to enhance its looks. This helps to keep cold air from rushing from outside, and keeps warm air from flowing out of the chimney. Many models can be installed with vents to blow air out into the room, increasing heat. This is complicated, but a heating technician can help you with this. These can look nice, and they save money. For some, they aren’t quite as romantic a way of curling up near a fire, but if a fireplace is a prominent source of heat, they are an ideal way to stay warm.
TOP-SEALING DAMPERLove the idea of saving money and keeping heat, but also love the way your fireplace looks without glass doors or an insert? Look at installing a fireplace damper! The damper will help to limit outside air infiltration and keep the warm air in. They aren’t as efficient as an insert or the door, but they also maintain the natural look for your fireplace. This is a plus for people who opt for the more traditional look.
Everyone enjoys the idea of trekking out back with an ax, perhaps a Paul Bunyon-esque cap perched upon your head, to chop down a tree or two and haul the wood back for your fire. And this can be rewarding, for sure- but it is also time-costly and frankly a lot of work (splitting the logs into manageable pieces is just one of your chores). Even if you go to the store you still have to bring back the wood. But many stores now sell cleaner-burning wood, which aren’t “natural”, but can burn longer and produce the heat of 3 or 4 logs with just one. This will save you time and money, and some artificial logs also greatly, greatly reduce the particulate matter and carbon-dioxide you are releasing into the air, making your fire a bit more green as well as red.
HIRE A CHIMNEY SWEEP
“Bob’s your uncle, guv’nor” and Cockney rhyming slang tend to be lumped in with the idea of a chimney sweep, and both are considered archaic. But only one is truly useless. If you have a fireplace, hiring a chimney sweep is an excellent idea at least once a month. Far from existing only to cough and sometimes sing, chimney sweeps greatly increase the efficiency of your fireplace, taking out all the soot that is clogging up your fire and depriving it of clean oxygen to burn. They also help to keep smoke from billowing into your house, a phenomenon which tends to ruin the taste of hot cocoa.
You can do any of these or a combination to make your fireplace- and your house- warmer and cheaper, so you don’t have to act like a scrooge this winter. Whatever you choose, local fireplace and chimney contractors can help make your dreams come true.