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Fireplaces: An unexpected source of heat loss

Your fireplace is a very inefficient source of heat. A roaring fire can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside. This occurs because hot air rises, so the majority of the air warmed by the fire goes straight up the chimney. Only a small percentage finds its way into the room. The warm air leaving the room is replaced by cold air from other areas of the house. Your heating system must warm up this air, which is then exhausted through your chimney. If you use your conventional fireplace while your central heating system is on, these tips can help reduce energy losses.

Fireplace Tips

  • If your fireplace is mainly for decoration and you never use it, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window 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 or open the nearest window about 1 inch to allow air to circulate, and close doors leading into the room.
  • Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Tempered glass doors can also improve the combustion efficiency while the fire is going
  • Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
  • Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.

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