Thursday, December 19, 2013

Heating efficiency - heat your home the right way this winter

This winter save on your heating costs by heating your home with your fireplace or wood burner. Or don't. While it may seem like a good idea to fire up the fireplace or wood burning stove, it is not likely to perform better than oil or gas heat. So let's cover some ways to help that fireplace save you some money on your heating bill and warm up your home at the same time. 

Depending on the type of fireplace you have, it may actually waste more energy than it creates throughout the season because in most cases the heat goes up the chimney, drawing cold air into the house to replace the heated air. And, when a fire isn’t burning, there is even more loss of warm and and money wasted on heating your home. When there's no fire in the fireplace warm air can still escape through the chimney. Be weary of the products that deem to fix this problem and other pitfalls with fireplaces. Do your research before you buy as many of them are not as effective — or safe — as you might like them to be. Here are a few common things that may or may not help you save on heating your home. Find out what will really work in saving you heat and money.

Fireback. A fireback is simply a heavy sheet of metal (traditionally cast iron) behind the fire. it protects masonry in the back of the fireplace. The fireback is used to reflect heat into the room, instead of all the heat going up the chimney. While great in theory, in practice it is nothing more than a pretty fireplace decoration. 

Damper. The damper is the metal plate that regulates airflow through the chimney. Some dampers fit snuggly when they’re new, but frequently warp within a year or two, producing a loose fit and allowing air to leak past them. A leaky or missing fireplace damper can cost as much as several hundred dollars of heat loss right up your chimney. Chimney cap dampers close the entire top of the chimney, so they reduce heat loss when the fireplace is not being used, but that's about it. They don’t improve efficiency otherwise.

Fireplace doors. Fireplace doors are efficiency and preserve energy. During winter or the cold season where the need to use the fireplace arises, a big portion of the comforting heat generated by the burning fuels at the fireplace can leak outside through the chimney even with a fireplace blower being used around. During the warm summer seasons where air-conditioning plays a vital role in cooling the house, the cool air will also leak out into the chimney thereby affecting the energy costs of the household. With a fireplace door installed, the chimney is shut tight and neither heat nor cool air could leak out through the chimney. This results into overall energy efficiency.

Grate heater and radiators. Grate heaters and radiators aren’t as large as complete fireplace inserts but capture a significant amount of heat from the fire and force it into the house. Although steam heat radiators have been in use longer than most heating technologies, some of their longstanding use owing to their durability and relatively simple conception, they are not the most efficient means of centrally heating a home or a building. I do not recommend these. There are many places between the grate heater and the individual radiators in each room that can contribute to inefficient operation, from the system of pipes to the radiators to the grate heater itself. In terms of cost, the isolated components of the system are usually lower priced than other heating methods, but replacement of the entire system can get very expensive. Thus, depending on the age and the condition of steam heat system, a cost/efficiency analysis can often fail at both ends. Stay away from this means of heating your home. 

Insert or wood burner. To make your fireplace truly efficient, you’ll want to install an insert approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A fireplace insert is basically a woodstove that fits into a masonry fireplace. Within the last 15 years, fireplace inserts have become much more energy efficient. This is the best option to improve efficiency and reduce standby losses. To be safe and effective, the insert must have a stainless steel liner run right to the top of the chimney.

Inflatable plugs. If you’re not using your fireplace regularly, inflatable plugs can stop warm air from going up the chimney when the fireplace is not in use.You can install a Chimney Balloon in the fireplace flue and close it off with a tight energy-saving seal. It is very simple to do.

As the winter continues on it is important to be prepared and educated on the best ways to prevent heat loss in your home. It's all about being efficient and responsible and we are glad we can help.

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