Though they feel warm when you’re right in front of them, fireplaces can be real energy wasters. Here are some helpful ways to save energy when using a fireplace.
Close Your Room Doors
When burning a fire, be sure to shut the doors to the room in which the fireplace is located. Doing so will keep that room heated and prevent a roaring fire from drawing warm air out of the rest of your house and replacing it with cold air from outdoors. Also crack open one nearby window to give the fire just enough air to burn.
Buy a Great Fireplace Grate
All fireplace grates are not created equal. Ensure that yours either holds logs in a manner that maximizes heat flow to your room or has C-shaped parallel tubes that point toward the room, sucking in cool air and recycling it back into the indoor environment once it has been heated by the fire.
Enclose the Fireplace
Many metal-and-glass fireplace enclosures come with a fan that circulates heated air into the adjoining room. Even models without this feature save you energy by keeping cool outside air where it belongs—not in your home—when your fireplace is not in use.
Put a Damper on It
Of course, the easiest way to prevent cold air from entering your home when your fireplace is idle is to close your damper. This can save you up to 15 percent of your total energy bill.
Seal It Up
Applying caulk manufactured for use around the hearth and firebox is another simple, inexpensive way to keep cool air out and warm air in.
Upgrade to Gas
If you are not satisfied with your current wood-burning fireplace and have a little bit of cash to spend, you could consider converting your existing fireplace into a gas burner. These prefabricated inserts with their faux logs can save you money because they allow you to control the heat and eliminate firewood expenses, and they also burn more steadily than traditional hearths. If you don’t have a fireplace and chimney, no problem. “Direct-vent” fireplaces can simply use ducts to vent gases outside. For more, see Types of Direct-Vent Fireplaces.
Consider Other Options
Other energy-efficient alternatives to the traditional fireplace include pellet stoves and wood-burning stoves. Wood-burning stoves may or may not provide you with energy savings, depending on where you live and whether you have a cheap and abundant supply of firewood. Eschew older models, and install a modern stove with features that limit pollution output and circulate warm air within your home. Pellet stoves, while more expensive, are also generally more efficient and “greener,” as they burn pellets made from recycled organic material. For more information, see Pellet Stoves Buying Guide.