When heating with a fireplace you get the warmth and beauty of a natural fire for everyone to enjoy. On a cold winters day nothing may be more relaxing and comforting than a fire in the fireplace. But......Does heating with a fireplace actually supply positive, sustained heat to your home? Surprisingly no. Studies show that a fireplace is not very efficient in heating your home. A natural fireplace without any added amenities may only reflect 15% of the heat into your room. The rest goes up the chimney.
Why So Inefficient?
Most older, traditional fireplaces are installed with a throat damper near the bottom of the chimney. Over time these dampers become warped or damaged allowing warm air from your home to escape straight up the chimney. In other cases the damper is left open allowing the heat to flow outside without any restrictions.
As the fire burns it draws in cold air throughout the house to replace the heated air creating a draft. Overtime a fireplace can actually loose more heat than they create.
What Can Be Done?
To make a fireplace more efficient a couple of things can be done to prevent some of the heat from escaping up the chimney.
Installing a top sealing damper can help reduce heat loss through the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. These are installed at the top of the chimney and can also prevent bugs and animals from entering your home.
An inflatable damper or inflatable plug can also be used to seal off the chimney. These offer a low cost relatively easy way to help reduce unwanted heat loss.
Installing fireplace doors can also help reduce heat loss. However, fireplace doors can be expensive and do not prevent all heat from escaping.
They are not an air tight seal and will still allow some heat to escape. They do however allow you to close off the fireplace to help prevent sparks and rolling logs from escaping.
It is important to have your fireplace inspected regularly by a professional for creosote build-up and any hazardous defects. If you live in a cold weather climate chances are you know someone who has had a chimney fire.
A natural fire can provide an ambiance to your home like nothing else. Although they are nice to look at, a fireplace alone is not the most efficient way to reduce your heating costs.