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Is Your Fireplace Giving You Enough Heat?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If you've got an inefficient fireplace, you might as well be burning dollar bills.

Any heat generated is offset because the warmth of your house is being sucked up the chimney sent outside.

An open-masonry fireplace might be only 15% efficient. But if there is no fire and the damper is left open, it can have a negative efficiency as warm air escapes.

The quest for efficiency starts with the type of fireplace you have. Or want. HGTV cast loves gas logs.

"I always tell people, go into a showroom and look at all the difference fireplaces," said Jonathan Scott, co-host (with twin brother Drew) of HGTV's "Property Brothers."

Neither brother (Jonathan is the contractor, Drew is the real estate agent) is particularly fond of open wood-burning fireplaces.

"Open-faced, traditional wood-burning fireplaces are very inefficient," said Jonathan.

Jonathan said that when they do renovations, open wood-burning fireplaces generally don't click design-wise. A redesigned room doesn't have the bang with a fireplace that looks and feels outdated. This brings us back to efficiency.

If you already have a fireplace, there are things you can do to improve efficiency. First, make sure your chimney is clean and safe. After that, it's mostly about the features.

Fireplace Doors

Without fireplace doors, your fireplace will suck the heat out of your home and send it up the chimney. There are endless varieties of designs for doors with tempered or ceramic glass. Doors also add another level of safety.

Gas Logs

Gas logs are hand crafted and hand painted ceramic log sets that have the look of wood without the hassle. When gas logs and fireplace doors are used to replace a traditionally open wood fireplace, efficiency goes up dramatically. Gas logs are the cleanest, most economical, most convenient alternative to burning real wood.

Grates

Steel grates have a tendency to warp and wear out. Jonathan recommends a heavy-duty cast iron version. Another possibility, he said, is one with a blower on the bottom that sends heat back into the room. "It makes them 10 times more efficient," he said. There are also grates made of C-shaped metal tubes that draw in cool air, heat it and circulate it. "You can get 10,000 to 40,000 BTUs of the heat back," said Jonathan.

Fireback

A metal plate lining the back of the fireplace, a fireback not only protects the masonry, but also radiates heat back into the room when the fire dies down.

Fireplace Inserts

Fireplace Inserts are enclosed cast iron or steel boxes that use gas, electricity, wood or pellet and are retrofitted into existing fireplaces. They are very efficient, and can reduce a home heating bill between 20% and 40%.

At West Sport in Sudbury, we are offering discounts on gas logs and glass fireplace doors. See our January specials or contact us for more details.

Original article – Chicago Tribune