It’s winter, and in some places it’s rather cold, and fireplaces are a necessity. Here in Southern California it’s still warm and sunny, but I still like to have a fire going once and awhile. However, if I have an inefficient fireplace, I might as well be burning dollar bills. Most of the warmth generated from the fireplace is being sucked up the chimney and headed right outside. If you have an open masonry fireplace, it’s only about 15% effective, and you’re wasting your money. Plus, if you keep the damper left open when there is no fire, it actually negatively affects your house’s temperature.
So how can you actually make a fireplace worth it? Well it all starts with the type of fireplace, for instance wood burning fireplaces have poor efficiency whereas a gas or electric fireplace is more efficient. Plus, if you decide to sell your home, wood burning fire places don’t looks as good as a gas or electric fireplaces. You get a better return with electric or gas.
If you already have a fireplace there are plenty of things you can do to increase efficiency. First make sure your chimney is clean, after that it’s mostly about your actual fireplace features, features like doors. Without doors, your fireplace will suck heat from your house and send it up the chimney, there are endless designs of ceramic doors that let heat from the fire ebb into the house without the heat inside escaping. Doors can also add a little safety, especially when there are kids around.
You could also look into dampers. There are two main categories of dampers. First there are throat dampers, which are typically made of cast iron, and sit near the bottom of the chimney regulating air flow. However, they can warp or rust over time, compromising the seal and becoming less effective. The other type would be the more typical top mount, which sits atop the chimney and is preferred by some experts.
You can also look into steel grates, but they have a tendency to warp and wear out. If you’re going that route be sure to get a heavy duty cast iron version. Another possibility is to purchase one with a blower on the bottom that sends heat back into the room. This allows for an enormous increase of efficiency as it helps heat the house. You can also buy grates that are made of metal tubes that draw in the room’s cold air, heat it with the fire and push it back into the home, which increases efficiency.
However, no matter how efficient your fireplace is, it won’t work well if your home is inefficient. If your window and their seals are cheap or old you’ll lose heat there. If your attic isn’t insulated, or you keep doors open, you’re wasting heat. If you ignore the rest of your house, it does not matter how efficient your fireplace is, you won’t really even notice a difference.
As always, if you want help with your fireplace or if you’re considering a home don’t hesitate to call National Realty Group at (800) 406-9606, visit us at NationalRealtyGroup.com or stop by our office. We’ll find you and agent that help you get the best burn out of your fireplace, keeping you from burning your cash.