Tips for wood or natural gas models
If you love to cozy up to warm fireplace on cold winter nights, make sure you're not letting energy escape out the chimney along with the smoke.

If you love to cozy up to warm fireplace on cold winter nights, make sure you're not letting energy escape out the chimney.

Natural gas fireplaceNatural gas fireplaces

Manufacturers are turning up the heat with new technology that makes fireplaces more comfortable and energy-efficient. Natural gas fireplaces have significant advantages over wood-burning models. They're cleaner, more convenient and provide enough heat to warm a room.

Instead of a large, energy-wasting brick chimney, a direct-vent natural gas fireplace requires only a thin metal vent, which fits inside any standard wall.

Vent-free models need no chimney at all, because they burn gas so cleanly that virtually no emissions are created. Vent-free fireplaces can be placed virtually anywhere a gas line is accessible.

Both types of gas fireplaces offer realistic ceramic logs and a thermostat control that gradually moderates heat output and flame height to maintain a comfortable room temperature.

Wood-burning fireplaces

Did you know that a wood-burning fireplace is one of the most inefficient ways to heat a room? Here's why: 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.

In fact, a wood-burning fireplace can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air to the outside in just a few hours! That means if your primary heating system is running while the fireplace is going, you're consuming energy to heat air that's being drawn into the fireplace and right up the chimney.

Inspect wood-burning fireplaceIf you can't bear to give up your wood-burning fireplace, follow these tips to reduce your energy loss:

  • Keep the damper closed whenever the fireplace isn't in use. Leaving a damper open is the equivalent of keeping a two-foot-square window wide open.
  • Check the seal on the damper by closing it off and holding a tissue inside the firebox. If drafts blow the tissue around, repair or replace the damper.
  • When using the fireplace, turn your thermostat down to 55 degrees, close doors leading into the room, and crack open a window to allow fresh air to circulate.
  • Tight-fitting glass doors can prevent air from escaping out the chimney; they also improve the combustion efficiency while the fire is going.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.

If you're looking for a new or replacement fireplace, factory-made masonry fireplaces are one answer for those who still want to burn wood. A state-of-the-art secondary combustion chamber burns away virtually all the smoke, making the fire so clean it meets the toughest emissions standards.

Another advantage of masonry is that it continues radiating heat long after the fire goes out because the natural brick or stone holds in heat.

Locktop chimney damperEnergy-saving dampers

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you know how drafty it can be. That’s because the damper system that supposedly seals the chimney hasn’t changed in the last 100 years. In fact, a typical fireplace damper could be costing you more than $200 a year in wasted energy!

A new product called the Locktop Energy Saving Damper™ is designed to be six times more effective at weather-proofing the chimney. Instead of a metal flap inside the flue, which is easily warped and damaged, the Locktop uses a unique silicone rubber gasket mounted on the top of the chimney to create an air-tight seal.

In addition to reducing unwanted heat loss by up to 90 percent, the Locktop also keeps rain, snow, leaves and animal pests out of your chimney.

A Locktop damper costs about $200 to $600 to have professionally installed – but keep in mind that it can pay for itself in energy savings less than three years. 

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