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waste energy
Wood Burning Fireplace - Comfort And Warmth Or Wasted Energy?
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Has the thought ever occurred to you that your wood-burning fireplace is an energy-waster? Think about it for a minute. You probably buy your firewood, unless you are lucky enough to have a free source of wood and cut your own logs. Firewood cost plus wasted heat equals the real cost of a wood-burning fireplace.

Wood-burning fireplaces waste energy

A wood-burning fire needs a source of air and oxygen, Most fireplaces depend upon a draft of inside air moving up the chimney drawing fresh air to the fire -- and discharging pollutants, gases and smoke to the outside. The fireplace is drawing your valuable heated air from your room and moving it outside through the chimney. As you let the fire die down, you keep the damper open to get rid of smoke and pollutants, and even more heated air is wasted up the chimney. If you forget to close the damper after the fire has gone out, still more heated air flows up the chimney.

Most older fireplace dampers do not have a good seal when closed. The metal damper flap is simply turned against a metal seat. The crack between the seat and the flap allows valuable heated air to escape up the chimney. A one-eighth inch crack around a two-foot damper is the equivalent of a 3-inch chimney for air to escape your room continuously. The metal flue damper is the only separation between inside warm heated air and outside colder air. Metal has a very low r-value; warmth is continually being transferred through the metal to the outside air.

Other wood-burning fireplace issues

Even with a well-functioning wood-burning fireplace, some pollutants and smoke will inevitably escape into your room. If you, family members and friends are asthmatic, this can exacerbate their condition. Over the long term, respiratory ailments may be aggravated,

Smoke and pollutants that do escape into your room can dirty carpets, furniture and walls. Over time the smell and smudge will become more apparent and aggravating.

Wood fires must be operated safely. The chimney should be inspected periodically and cleaned to assure there is no buildup of creosote which is flammable. Sparks from a wood fire can be a safety hazard. Use a spark screen for protection.

O.K., so wood-burning fireplaces waste energy and have other issues. What is the solution?

Tighten up your existing fireplace. Use a glass screen that fits tightly against the fireplace opening so you can better control the amount of heated air going up the chimney. However, when you look closely and you'll see that screen does not seal very well. Number cracks and openings still allow air to flow through the screen.

Install a source fresh outside air for combustion

Outside air can be piped into the fireplace opening to reduce the amount of inside air required for combustion. But unless there is a damper to close the outside air opening, cold air will continue to flow into the fireplace even when there is no fire.

Replace the wood-burning fire with an electric fireplace insert

Electric fireplace inserts on the market today come with a realistic wood-burning fire look so you can have the ambience of a wood fire without its disadvantages. Electric fireplace inserts produce heat as well. With an electric fireplace insert you can thoroughly seal your fireplace,save energy and eliminate other issues associated with a wood-burning fireplace.


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