How to Increase Your Fireplace’s Efficiency

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A roaring fireplace definitely seems warm and inviting on cold winter nights, but many older fireplaces are only 10% efficient!  How does improved comfort, energy conservation, reduced energy costs, reduced noise, and improved indoor air quality sound?  Here are some tips to increase your fireplace’s efficiency:

  • Add glass doors to your wood-burning or vented gas fireplace.  They will reduce the amount of cold outside air that enters your room through the chimney when the fireplace is not in use.  During the summer, glass doors also help to keep conditioned air from escaping your home.  Glass fireplace doors typically cost $200 and up.
  • Don’t forget to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Weatherstrip your fireplace by using a reusable, inflatable plug that is inserted into the fireplace beneath the damper (part of it hangs down into the fireplace to prevent you from building a fire before removing it).  Cost:  around $55.
  • Add a “fireback” to wood-burning fireplaces.  A fireback is a sheet of metal, sized in proportion to the fireplace, that’s placed against the inside backwall of the fireplace.  It helps to radiate and reflect heat back into the room.  Stainless steel firebacks generally run between $50-150, while heavier (and costlier to ship) cast iron firebacks run from $250-700.
  • A top sealing damper replaces the fireplace throat damper and is installed at the top of the chimney to reduce air infiltration.  It costs around $200.
  • A fireplace heater dramatically increases the convection heat (hot air) coming from your fireplace and also serves as the grate on which to place logs.  It generally costs $250 or more.
  • Install a fireplace insert (pictured here).   A fireplace insert seals off the opening of the fireplace and increases its efficiency by about 65%!   Emissions from your fireplace are also reduced.  Prices generally run upwards of $1,300.
  • Hire a chimney sweep to clean and remove creosote from your fireplace once a year for $80-200.

Source:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Tag(s): Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Global Warming, Greening the Home, Money Saving, The Great Green Outdoors


2 Responses to “How to Increase Your Fireplace’s Efficiency”

  1. Cathy on January 6th, 2009 7:46 pm

    I just read the article ,”How to increase your fireplace efficiency “Posted on December 22, 2008 by Joyce Benson. My concern is with the recomended glass doors. In my experience (in B.C.,Canada) prices start at $700 – doors in the $200 range are not intended to have fires!- they look very much the same but the glass is not to excede 450 F degree .This is real safety issue.

  2. Joyce Benson on January 7th, 2009 9:49 am

    Thank you for your input. It is definitely important when purchasing anything for the home to talk to salespeople and read the manufacturer’s instructions.

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