Is a fireplace energy-efficient?

Asked by Alison Hillman, San Francisco, CA Thu Mar 7, 2013

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Robert Ernst, Other Pro, Reno, NV
Fri Mar 8, 2013
It all depends on what your fireplace is like. If it's a regular open style they are not efficient at all. Only about 10%. So far less than even a really old furnace. An insert or wood stove are better. There are some pretty efficient wood stoves out there. The good thing about wood is as long as it's dry it produces allot of heat measured in BTU's. It produces more BTU than heating fuels normally used in the house for the same amount of money. The other thing you want to do is make sure the damper is air tight or it will allow hot air to escape out of the house when the fireplace is not being used. They have some balloon type things you can put in the flue to seal it or get a top mount damper installed.
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Phyllis McAr…, Agent, San mateo, CA
Sat Mar 9, 2013
We had a lovely cast iron fireplace insert for years and it was very efficient. The problem now is that the SF Bay Area has so many "No Burn" days, it's not worth the bother
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Gary Geer, Agent, Antioch, IL
Thu Mar 7, 2013
Not usually. They actually can remove heat from your home during use because they use your inside air to burn the wood. If you can, have one that uses outside air for combustion. Also some older models have a glass door on the front and many have a heatilator power vent that distributes the heat back into your home. A wood stove is a better chice for heat as long as it uses outside air for combustion. Some of these stoves also burn wood pellets or corn. Hope this helps.

All the best,
Gary Geer
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