Few things are as enjoyable on a cold winter night as sitting next to a warm fire. But the reality is that you might be sending your energy bill up in smoke. More than 100 million homes in North America are built with wood or gas burning fireplaces and nearly all of them can contribute to energy loss.
Putting a Damper on Your Energy Bills
The primary culprit in energy loss is the fireplace’s damper. An open or unsealed damper in a well-insulated house can raise overall energy consumption by up to 30 percent, or nearly $200 per year. According to the Department of Energy, an average home spends approximately $600 per year for heating.
What’s more, between 80 and 90 percent of the heat produced by wood burned in an open fireplace is lost up the chimney. This means that for every $100 you spend on firewood, you get only $10 to $20 worth of heat. The rest goes up the chimney.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, conventional fireplaces (wood or gas) are one of the most inefficient heat sources. All that warm air lost up the chimney must be replaced by cold air brought from outside and then reheated by the furnace.
Looking at the Big Picture
To put in perspective how much heat is lost, think about a basketball, which is approximately the size of one cubic foot of air. A conventional fireplace exhausts as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour. So, it’s essentially like shooting 400 basketballs out your chimney every minute. Basketballs aren’t cheap, and neither is wasted heat energy.
Take it From Us
Certainly fireplaces are a mainstay in many homes in the U.S. and while we don’t suggest deconstructing them, we do not recommend they be used as a primary heat source. The dampers should always be closed tightly when not in use, and it’s worth examining the damper seal annually to make sure it hasn’t worn down or bent, which could cause a leak. It’s also worth examining the seals around your doors and windows, which if not properly sealed, can be another site for heat to escape your home.
Is this going to make you more or less likely to have a fire this winter?
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