Fireplace Can Raise Heating Bill

April 3rd, 2012 by affordablesweep Leave a reply »

Fireplaces Are Great To Look At!

A fire in the fireplace is relaxing, but they don’t heat your home as thoroughly as you may think. Fireplaces deliver 10 percent or less of the fire’s heat to the room and will increase your heating bill in two ways.

First, firewood costs more than the value of the delivered heat. Seasoned oak firewood must cost less than $20 per cord (a cord is a stack 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long) to provide heat from a fireplace at a cost comparable to a heat pump, according to the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service.

Fireplaces also require a large volume of air from the chimney. The incoming air cools the rest of the house, causing the primary heater to operate more than if you had no fire.

Here are some tips to care for your fireplace efficiently:

  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.


  • Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.


  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.


  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly — approximately 1 inch — and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • Install tempered glass or metal doors or heat sheilds. Placed in front of the fireplace, these sorts of devices will limit the amount of warm room air that escapes the house when the fireplace is not is use. Doors work particularly well when a fire is burning down for the night, but the damper has to remain open to allow the smoke to vent. While the fireplace is in operation, glass doors should remain open, since most of the warmth produced by a fireplace is in the form of radiant heat. If closed, the glass will deflect radiant heat back into the fireplace and reduce the heat output to the room.


  • Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.


  • Look at new fireplace designs. Circulating fireplaces have heat circulation ducts built into the masonry fireplace. These pull air from the room, circulate it around a metal firebox and send it back, warmed, into the room. Some of these units have built-in fans to increase the flow of air and heat. Made of metal, circulating fireplaces warm quickly and cool rapidly once the fire is extinguished.


  • Consider fireplace inserts. An insert is basically a metal wood stove that slides neatly into the fireplace cavity. They are relatively easy to install, and can improve a fireplace’s efficiency. Before adding one, however, make sure to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by Affordable Chimney Service (704)526-6348

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