A fireplace, while cozy on a cold winter night, can dramatically affect your home’s ability to retain warm and cool air. Proper use of your fireplace and its equipment—like the damper, for example—can help reduce heating and cooling costs, saving you money and energy.
By design, a chimney removes unwanted by-products from a fire by creating a draft. But this draft can also pull warm or cool air from your home.
Always close the flue damper tightly when the fireplace is not in use to keep conditioned air in your living space where it belongs. If your fireplace does not have a damper, install one. Also, non-flammable “open & closed” signs that hang from the damper handle make it easy to remember if a damper is open or closed.
If you’re building a new fireplace, install ducts around it so that cool room air is drawn in, circulated around the fire box, and ducted back into the room.
The ducts are completely self-contained; and the air never mixes with the chimney smoke. If you want to have the warmed air blown out at floor level so that it will heat the room even better, install a fan in the duct system.
Homeowners with existing fireplaces can install a small-scale duct system in the firebox. This heat exchanger consists of hollow tubes bent into a shape that fits around the fire. Cool air from the floor enters the bottom of each tube, is heated by the fire, and convected out the top of the tubes and into the room.
You can increase fireplace efficiency with a heat-circulating fireplace and chimney adapter system. These so-called fireplace inserts consist of a double-walled firebox, several air ducts, and depending on the model, a blower to speed the movement of heated air.
Chimney flues that penetrate your attic floor have gaps around them, allowing the conditioned air in your home to escape into your attic and potentially increasing your energy bill. Make your home more comfortable and energy efficient by sealing these leaks with metal flashing and high-temperature caulk.
Installing glass doors on your fireplace will help prevent heated room air from escaping up the chimney. The fire still draws air through vents below the doors, but only enough to burn the fuel.