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The BIG 3: Fireplaces

Photo by Ryan Mahle.

Fireplace photo by Ryan Mahle.

Are you feeling chilly?
Me too.

It might be the flue!

Did you know that 14% of home energy is lost through the fireplace?

If you have a fireplace, there is a trapdoor that opens up your chimney, or flue, to let smoke and noxious gases safely out of your home. Managing that trapdoor is key to efficiently and safely managing the heat in your home. When first starting a fire, the flue should be opened wide to release initial heavy smoke. Then, as the fire settles, the opening of the flue should be restricted to keep as much heat as possible inside of your house while still channeling smoke up the chimney.

There are many other issues surrounding the safety, comfort and energy efficiency of your fireplace. Weathering of brick chimneys over time can lead to cracks in the mortar creating extra drafts. This can affect the flow of soot, air, smoke, and other gases. Furthermore, if these byproducts cool before reaching the top of the chimney, they can build up creosote and cause fires within your flue! A clean chimney sweeping and a new chimney lining can greatly reduce fire-related risks, while improving energy efficiency and cost efficiency when heating your home.

Even if a chimney is in good repair, by having a fire in the winter, homeowners may feel cold, replacement air coming into their living spaces, while valuable heat is being released into the atmosphere. This is not the goal, of course, but it is often the case. The house is constantly seeking equilibrium. Heated air moves towards the fireplace, and in turn, low pressure areas are created, pulling air in from the outside, often resulting in cooler zones within the home. This natural occurrence can have the opposite of the desired effect. Home Energy Audits help to identify improperly sealed and insulated areas. Aside from The Big 3 areas of energy loss, these areas include plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, vents and electrical outlets.

The freezing winter air is trying to get into your house through EVERY nook and cranny!

So you see the flue is not the only problem. But it is certainly one of them. Protect yourself from the flu(e) this season!

If you do not have a fireplace in your residence, and you are seeking a green heating solution, then you may want to check out electric fireplaces. They are inexpensive to install, operate, and maintain. They are easily portable, depending on the size of the appliance. Simply plug it in the room of your choosing, whether it be a single-family home, an office, an apartment, or even a mobile home. They are most effective in heating small living spaces, similar to fireplaces, however they do not cause dramatic temperature and pressure shifts like those caused by a traditional fireplace. Overall, electric fireplaces are a safe, comfortable, and energy efficient heating Alternative.

 

By Nick Ring.

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