fireplaceFew things in life can compare with the comfort of curling up in a favorite chair near a warm fireplace on a cold night. But have you ever wondered how much of the air you pay to heat literally goes right up the chimney when your fireplace is not being used? Estimates vary widely depending on the type and age of the fireplace and chimney you have and how well they were built and installed. What the experts all agree on is that loss can be quite substantial.

Here are a few tips from the U.S. Department of Energy that should help keep more of that warm air in your home and more of the money you paid to heat it in your pocket.

  • If you don’t use it; lose it! If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue to prevent heat from leaving your home via this open pathway.
  • Close the door. Likewise, close your fireplace damper unless there is a fire actively burning in the fireplace.
  • Clear your view. If you use your fireplace regularly, install tempered glass doors and a heat exchange system that will direct the air warmed by the fireplace back into the room.
  • Get a great grate. Grates matter for more than appearance’s sake. If you get one made from C-shaped metal tubes, they will help draw cooler air from the room into the fireplace and then direct the heated air back into your room.
  • Prep your home. Before using the fireplace, lower your home’s thermostat setting (the Department of Energy recommends setting it between 50° and 55°F) and close the doors leading into the room. Open the dampers in the bottom of your firebox (if you have them) or open the nearest window about one inch. This allows air to circulate and forces any smoke up the chimney instead of drawing it down into your room.
  • Seal the deal. Check the seal on your fireplace flue damper to make sure it fits as tightly as possible.
  • Add finishing touches. Add caulking around the hearth to seal any crevices where heated air can seep out when the fireplace is not in use.