Weatherproof your wallet: How to reduce fireplace heat loss

As the temperature continues to drop and the winter doldrums kick in, many homeowners are looking to their fireplaces to supplement the heat in their home. And what’s more comfortable than sitting in front of the fireplace while the warmth envelopes the room? The problem is that a big percentage (some say up to 90%) of that warmth is distributed inefficiently in the room and home. In other words, you’re losing much of the heat being generated.

Now, it needs to be said that a fireplace can’t take the place of a furnace. Fireplaces — unless you live in a single-room cabin — are basically good for heating one room and only for a period of hours.

That being said, it’s important to nip heat loss in the bud is because of the inefficiencies: A fireplace may actually cause your heat bill to rise because you have to run your furnace longer to make up for the heat lost through inefficiency.

5 ways to reduce heat loss from your fireplace

Here are some ways to keep much of the heat from your wood-burning fireplace or chimney.

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  • Use a flue sealer: “Flue sealers are removable stoppers that prevent air from escaping through the chimney,” says IndianaMichiganPower.com. “These inflatable devices — made from heavy-gauge plastic — are inexpensive, and easy to install and remove. Place the flue sealer just below the damper to prevent heat loss and downdrafts when the fireplace is not in use.”
  • Caulk it: Make sure to apply caulk around the fireplace hearth. Failure to seal or doing it improperly is a main way that many fireplaces are losing heat.
  • Seal off the room: Another way to reduce heat loss is close the room’s doors if you can and to crack open the nearest window, no more than an inch. This will actually help the fire to emanate and heat the air, creating a feeling of warmth all around.
  • Adjust the thermostat: A lot of people run their heating units too high while using a fireplace. To do its job, a good setting for the thermostat is 50° to 55°F.
  • Install a heat-air exchange system:  A heat exchanger captures air from the room and channels it through hot tubes, redistributing heat and bringing additional warmth. As a result, you get more bank for the bucks you’ve spent on wood.

Of course, there may be some other ways to reduce heat loss from a fireplace. Feel free to leave those in the comments.

The main thing through all of this is to stay safe. If smoke is not being contained in the firebox and escaping into the room, that means your fireplace is not operating as it should. Have it checked out!

RELATED: Weatherproof your wallet: How to avoid pipe bursts this winter

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