Fireplaces and stoves are a wonderful way for homeowners to heat their homes during the cold winter months. With so many choices in size, cost, and fuel source, homeowners are able to find a heating appliance to perfectly fit their needs. Modern stoves and fireplaces can be used to heat entire homes, or as a complement to other existing heat sources.
As the heat from a fire rises, cold outside air rushes down to replace it. If stoves and fireplaces have not been properly maintained or are used incorrectly, they can let cold air in. In some cases this rush of cold air can completely negate the heating effects of the fire in the first place. Luckily, there are several ways that homeowners can help improve the efficiency of their fireplaces and stoves, minimizing the loss of warm air and maximizing their heating ability.
Use the right firewood
The main way that homeowners can improve the efficiency of wood burning appliances is through burning the correct firewood. Only seasoned firewood should be used in fireplaces and stoves. Seasoned firewood has a lower moisture content than freshly cut wood, meaning the fire burns hotter and produces less smoke than fires using freshly cut wood.
In addition to burning more efficiently, fires built with seasoned firewood are also better for the overall health of your fireplace. Fresh cut wood produces larger amounts of creosote, a highly flammable, sticky byproduct of wood burning fires that is one of the primary causes of chimney fire. While all firewood will produce creosote, seasoned firewood creates much smaller amounts.
Close the damper
A damper is the metal plate that separates the firebox from the chimney structure. Dampers are meant to create an airtight seal, preventing warm air from inside the home from escaping and keeping cold air and moisture from outside from entering the home.
Over time, dampers may become warped and lose their air tight seal. Having a damper professional fitted, fixed, or replaced can ensure there is no loss of heat from the home. Although dampers should be left open while a fire is burning or extinguishing, a well-fitting damper can keep your fireplace from losing heat while not in use.
Have your chimney professionally cleaned
Fireplaces and stoves that are not regularly maintained or cleaned may lose efficiency due to a buildup of ash, creosote, and soot. According to the US Department of Energy, as little as one-tenth of an inch of soot buildup can reduce the heat transfer efficiency of a fireplace by as much as 50%. Likewise, a certified chimney sweep will be able to identify any damage to the stove, fireplace, or chimney – such as cracks in the flue – that may be causing a loss of efficiency.
Upgrade your existing appliance
In the last decade, fireplaces, stoves, and other fuel burning appliances have become increasingly efficient and environmentally sound. Upgrading your existing fireplace with a wood burning insert increases efficiency while keeping the look and feel of an actual wood burning fire. Likewise, most new wood burning stoves are EPA certified to produce low emissions and have built in fans to better circulate warm air through the home.
If you have questions about the efficiency of your fireplace or stove or would like more information on upgrading your existing appliances, contact the experts at The Cozy Flame today!