As much as you might enjoy the smell and comfort of your wood-burning fireplace, the sad truth is that most of the heat goes up the chimney. In addition, the fireplace will suck up some of the heat that your furnace has provided, making it run that much longer.
Ideally, one answer would be to install a gas-burning insert. Or, if your heart is set on wood, you can choose a wood-burning insert. Unfortunately, both of these cost quite a bit of money.
There are a few things you can do to make your current fireplace a little bit more efficient, although using it sparingly is still the best solution.
- Make sure you use seasoned wood. Green wood not only burns less efficiently, but it causes more creosote build-up in your chimney, and will often result in a smoky fire.
- Install good quality glass doors, and keep them closed when using the fireplace.
- Replace your current damper with a chimney cap or top sealing model if it is more than a few years old.
- Put a heavy metal sheet (fireback) behind the fire along the inside back wall of the fireplace. Cast iron is commonly used. This will cause some of the heat to be bounced back into the room instead of up your chimney.
- Buy some sort of fireplace plug that will block cold air from entering your home when the fireplace is not in use.