Fireplaces can be a beautiful and cozy feature in your home, especially during cold and dreary weather. Turning on your fireplace on a cool evening can add ambiance and comforting warmth. Many people wonder if fireplaces can do more than just that and whether they’re an effective or efficient way to heat a home. Can fireplaces heat a home and save money on heating costs?
A fireplace can heat a home and create enough heat for you to turn central heating systems down. Wood burning and gas fireplaces can heat a room in your home, depending on how you use them and the fireplace’s location. However, electric and decorative fireplaces are not effective.
The rest of this article will explain how the different types of fireplaces can be effective in heating your home. We’ll also discuss actions you can take to increase the heat they produce and some essential things to remember if you want to heat your home with a fireplace.
Fireplaces as Heat Sources
Using a central heating system equally heats all rooms in your home, even if you aren’t using them. Why heat a room you aren’t using? Focusing energy (and energy costs) on heating the parts of your home you use the most (or are currently using) makes more financial sense.
Zone heating focuses on heating only the areas in use. When used appropriately, fireplaces can use zone heating to heat your home and potentially save you money.
Whether a fireplace is a good choice for heating your home will depend greatly on the type of fireplace you have. That’s because different types of fireplaces produce heat differently and provide varying levels of heat. For example, electric or decorative fireplaces won’t heat your home. Open fireplaces are also less likely to heat more than one room.
Below, we’ll explore wood-burning and gas fireplaces and introduce you to some tips to help you increase the amount of heat produced by your fireplace. It’s important to note that it’s a good idea to consult an expert in heating and cooling before making any big decisions about how to heat your home.
Wood Burning Fireplaces
Wood-burning fireplaces can produce a lot of heat, but they won’t necessarily add warmth to your home if used properly. A wood-burning fireplace can pull heat out of your home through the chimney, so it might actually make your home cooler. But the heat produced by a wood-burning fireplace heats your skin and makes you feel warmer, which might be enough for you.
Increasing Heat Efficiency for Wood Burning Fireplaces
You can do some things to increase the amount of heat a wood burning fireplace adds to your home. Some of the best ways to improve your wood-burning fireplace’s efficiency include:
- Keep it clean. The first thing you can do to increase your wood burning fireplace’s heating efficiency is to make sure you clean it at least once a year to reduce the buildup of creosote, which can reduce airflow and acts as a fire hazard.
- Open the damper. When using the fireplace, open the damper as wide as possible. Opening the damper will increase the amount of air exposed to the fire, which will improve combustion.
- Use dry and seasoned wood. If the wood used in a fireplace has too high a water content, it won’t burn efficiently. Seasoned wood is wood that’s been left out to dry over time. Using seasoned wood will result in a more efficient burn, which means more heat.
- Burn hardwoods. Burning hardwoods instead of softwoods will increase the amount of heat produced in your fireplace. Hardwood comes from deciduous trees like Beech, Douglas Fir, Ash, and Oak, while softwoods come from conifer trees like Cedar and Pine.
- Add some doors. Adding tempered glass doors to your wood burning chimney can reduce the amount of heat that leaves the room if you keep the doors closed while the fire is burning. Using a fireplace insert can also increase the warmth shared in the room.
There are a few different kinds of gas fireplaces: vented and unvented. While the details of each type of unit differ, you can use both to heat your home.
Vented Gas Fireplaces
Vented gas fireplaces use a vent either through a pipe on your home’s wall or through the roof. They pull in air through the vent to use it for combustion for the fire instead of pulling air from the room. Up to 70% of the heat generated from a vented gas fireplace can stay in your home. This makes a vented gas fireplace a great choice to heat your home.
Unvented Gas Fireplaces
Unvented gas fireplaces work kind of like a gas stove. These fireplaces don’t need a vent or chimney because all of the heat produced in these fireplaces are forced directly into the room. Heat produced goes into your home and not outside through the flue. It’s important to note that unvented gas fireplaces have a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and increased concerns about air quality, moisture, and odors.
Increasing Heat Efficiency for Gas Fireplaces
If you want to heat your home with a gas fireplace, there are some things you can do to increase the amount of heat your fireplace provides for your home. Let’s take a look at a few ways to improve a gas fireplace’s efficiency.
- Get an insert. Adding an insert to your gas fireplace can help trap your fire’s heat and increase the heat distributed to your home. Some inserts also have blowers to help distribute heat better.
- Make sure they are properly insulated. Ensure your fireplace insert has a vapor barrier and drywall to prevent heat from sitting in the wall’s interior.
- Add some doors. Using ceramic glass doors on your gas-burning fireplace can help transmit the heat from your fire into your room.
- Check the blower. Some gas fireplaces have a blower which will help distribute heat. Do annual maintenance to ensure that your blower is free of buildup, which can negatively impact a blower’s effectiveness.
How efficient a fireplace is in heating your home depends on several factors like the type of fireplace, the size of your home, and your fireplace location. But regardless of your circumstances, there are things you can do to improve your fireplace’s heating efficiency.
In the end, it may not be cost-effective to heat your home with a fireplace, depending on our circumstances. Speak to heating and cooling professionals for more information about whether a fireplace is an efficient way to heat your home.
Looking For Electric Fireplaces?
Are you looking for the best electric fireplace? We’ve got you covered. Check out our article on the top 5 best electric fireplaces on the market and find your perfect fit today! The Fireplace Lifestyle team has done all of the research so that you don’t have to. You can just sit back, relax, and enjoy reading about these incredible fireplaces. Our goal is to help people like yourself find their dream fireplace with ease. So take a look at what we have to offer – we know it will be worth your time!