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How to Improve the Efficiency of your Wood-Burning Fireplace

Everyone wants to keep themselves and their house warm in the winter months. However, if you’ve ever sat close to your “open wood fireplace”, you know that it contributes very little to heating your house. Why is that? Very simply put, an open wood fireplace (or even an open gas fireplace) is built for ambiance – not heat efficiency.

How to Know if You Have an Open Wood Fireplace

In addition to detecting that little heat is being pushed out into your living room, you can identity if you have an open fireplace by these telling features:

  • You have a fireplace door or mesh curtain that doesn’t completely seal off the fireplace
  • Your fireplace doesn’t have a blower that pushes warm air back into the room
  • Or, if you’re still not sure then simply ask your certified chimney sweep about what kind of fireplace you have

If you do in fact have an open wood fireplace and wish that it could produce warmth for your home as a secondary heat source, then here are some upgrades you should consider. 

How to Improve the Efficiency of Your Open Wood Fireplace

1. Install a wood fireplace insert

A fireplace insert is a sealed metal box with a finished front that can be “inserted” into your open wood fireplace to make it more efficient. This is a great option because:

  • It is cost effective because the chimney sweep can simply install the insert into your fireplace and use your existing flue to vent out the gases
  • It burns 20 times cleaner, which is great for the environment, and is approximately 15 times warmer than a traditional open wood fireplace. This also means it requires less frequent sweeping
  • Its blower system pumps the heat out into your living room, instead of letting the warm air escape up the chimney like traditional open fireplaces

2. Install a wood stove

A wood stove is a separate iron structure that can be installed in your living room as a very efficient heat source. Your certified chimney sweep will need to cut a hole in your wall or roof in order to install the flue to vent the gases from the stove, but having your chimney sweep install a wood stove is totally worth it and has a lot of advantages:

  • It uses a baffle system and air ducts to push warm air back into the house and also radiates heat from the unit itself
  • It is much more efficient for producing heat than a traditional fireplace because it has an adjustable damper and air-intake, which controls the burn rate of your wood so it can last longer
  • You can install a wood stove in virtually any home – the chimney sweep will run the chimney flue through the roof to centralize your stove, or he will install the flue directly into the wall and then run the flue up the side of the house
  • It’s very eco-friendly and requires less maintenance – and the more modern versions create even less pollution and actually don’t need to be cleaned as often
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