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Fireplace Efficiency Products

Jun 18th 2020

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Due to rising energy costs people are looking towards alternate means to heat their home.  Wood is one of the most popular choices since it is easily obtainable and relatively inexpensive.  By burning wood in a masonry fireplace you probably think that you are saving money, when in fact you are actually losing it.  On average, the normal homeowner's masonry fireplace is -15% efficient when in use!  This leads to heating bills being more than $500 higher per winter than they should be.  You might find yourself saying "So what, I like the look and the ambiance of burning real wood."  Well who doesn't, but tell me how great burning wood is when you see that first gas bill in the winter or even your central air bill during the summer.  Almost everybody likes the look of a burning fireplace and everybody likes saving money.  So what we have done is put together some products that will start saving you money from the first day you install them.  If used correctly, these products can transform your fireplace from an inefficient aesthetically appealing unit, to a money saving energy efficient fireplace.

 

Fireplace Dampers

A fireplace is most inefficient when it is open all year round.  A fireplace without a damper or door is like having a window open all year round!  A damper is a plate that regulates the draft in a chimney.  There are two types of dampers that we will be discussing in the following paragraphs.

 

A Throat damper installs just above the firebox and will drastically cut down on energy loss.  These dampers are made completely of metal and will help lessen a draft, but will not give an airtight seal.  Throat dampers are typically installed when the fireplace is first built.  If done later, it would require some major renovation work to the chimney, usually involving hiring a mason or fireplace expert to install.  Over time damper plates warp or rust causing air to escape.

 

This is why most homeowners prefer to purchase the second type of damper, a Top Sealing Damper.  This type mounts on the top of your chimney, similar to a chimney cap.  It is easier to install and comes with a rubber seal to ensure your hard earned money doesn't escape your home. Click here to see a short video on how a top sealing damper will save you and your family money.  You wouldn't stand for having a window open all year round, so why should your fireplace be any different.

Draft Eliminator

Tighter than a throat damper and cheaper than a door this product will save you hundreds of dollars year round.  The Draft Eliminator is an inflatable draft stopper that you can insert when you are not using your fireplace to reduce heat loss.  Easy to install only requiring a few breaths of air to inflate and when you want to use your fireplace, just open the air hole to deflate and remove it.  Get more information on the Draft Eliminator.


 
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Draft Eliminator

Fireplace Doors

In addition to being an attractive addition to your home, fireplace doors have many benefits.  One of those benefits is burning your fireplace with the doors shut.  This cuts down drastically on heat loss because your fireplace is not using as much inside air for combustion.  Before using your glass doors I suggest reading your manual so you are completely aware of the features and limitations.  Doors made with a thicker material are less likely to discolor due to exposure to high heat.  All of our Thermo-Rite doors come with a lifetime warranty on the glass and a 5 year structural warranty. 

Unlike a damper, at the end of the night your fireplace doors can be shut when the fire dies down.  On average this saves you from 8 hours of heat loss that gets sucked up through your chimney each night!  To make your fireplace even more efficient you can add a grate heater.  See our wide selection of Fireplace Doors.

 

Grate Heaters

We have talked about ways to save money when not using your fireplace, but what about when you are using it.  A relatively inexpensive way to retrieve heat from your fireplace is with the use of a grate heater.  There are various types of grate heaters but the basic principle is the same.  The hollow tubing gets hot from the fire and a fan blows heat through the hollow tubes and back into the room.  Some are thermostatically controlled so the fan will turn on automatically once the tubing  reaches a certain temperature.  While in most cases these units are not enough to heat your entire home, they will produce between 10,000 to 40,000 BTU's, enough to heat a large room and other parts of the home.  Some can be used with fireplace doors, making your fireplace even more efficient.  A grate heater is a must for anyone who has a wood burning fireplace.  Check out our wide selection of hearth heaters.

 

Fireplace Inserts

If you are looking to get the most possible heat your fireplace is capable of, then a fireplace insert might be just what you need.  An average masonry fireplace is about -15% efficient on average, sucking out more heat than it can produce.  A fireplace insert will improve your efficiency up to 65%, and some inserts will exceed this.  Let's take a look at some of the reasons why adding a fireplace insert improves the overall efficiency of your fireplace.  For starters, a fireplace insert is designed like a wood stove, air tight and used with the door shut.  Your living room is no longer losing mass amounts of heated air up your chimney.  Also, inserts have an air draft control. For this reason you get a more controlled burn, where energy and money is saved while creating less emissions.  No more heat shooting up the chimney because you are unable to control the amount of combustion air your fireplace is receiving.

Another great feature is that most inserts have a powerful fan system.  Some consist of one or more blowers, with the top of the line systems being thermostatically controlled and heat activated.  Talk about efficiency!

 

Outdoor Air Intake

Installing an outside air intake is probably the most overlooked money saving solution.  Just like any fire, your fireplace requires oxygen for the wood to burn.  When in use, your fireplace will draw inside air to combust the fire.  Whether it be heated air sitting dormant in your home or pulling in outside air from the small cracks in your doors and windows, this situation is very inefficient.  The best way to solve this problem is controlling where the outside air is drawn in from to eliminate uncomfortable drafts and high gas bills.  Let's face it, who wants to spend hundreds of dollars each month just to watch all the heat get sucked from your home and up the chimney? By installing an outside air intake next to your fireplace you can reduce the amount of space that the cool air has to travel through the home and reduce uncomfortable drafts. The results are amazing, lower gas bills and a comfortable living environment.

 

Overview

We have taken the time to go over all of the different solutions for making a wood burning fireplace more efficient and now have a good understanding of what these products can do for us.  Now comes the hardest part, weighing out the choices and making a decision on what product or products will best suit your needs.  The first step I always take before making a purchase is deciding what product will best fix my problem.  Which product will not only suit my home's need for efficiency, but which one will save me the most money. The next step is cost.  Don't get caught up in the initial price.  Remember these products will save you money!  Just because a product is the most expensive doesn't mean it is always the best solution for you.  Finally, is what I like to call "Ease of installation." Basically, how easy is it to use this product? A Draft Eliminator is a great product that is relatively inexpensive, but requires installing it over and over again as opposed to a top sealing damper that is more expensive but, you only have to install once.

Your factors in purchasing a product might rank different than the steps I use, but surely if you take all of them into account you will be getting the right product.   More importantly, you will be solving the problem of having a beautiful but inefficient fireplace.

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