Is there a way I can make my fireplace a more efficient tool in heating my home?



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    How to Make Your Fireplace More Efficient

    1. fireback is simply a heavy sheet of metal (traditionally cast iron) behind the fire. In addition to protecting masonry in the back of the fireplace, a fireback theoretically reflects heat into the room (instead of all the heat going up the chimney). But don’t expect significant results if you add a fireback to your fireplace. Wood-heat expert, John Gulland, says, “Firebacks had a little validity 100 years ago when there weren’t many good alternatives, but these days they are mostly decorative.” Estimated cost: $75 to $350.
    2. The damper is the metal plate that regulates airflow through the chimney. Some dampers fit snuggly when they’re new, but frequently warp within a year or two, producing a loose fit and allowing air to leak past them. Chimney cap dampers close the entire top of the chimney, so they reduce heat loss when the fireplace is not being used, but don’t improve efficiency otherwise. Estimated cost: $160 to $400 for a chimney cap model.
    3. Fireplace doors are supposed to reduce the amount of air that would otherwise be siphoned up the chimney. Depending on the type of glass in the doors, some heat still radiates through the doors into the house. “Cheap doors use tempered glass, which breaks if you close the doors when a fire is burning. Ceramic glass doors can produce a small efficiency improvement but are stunningly expensive. Fireplace doors are almost never tight enough to prevent cold air from backdrafts when the fireplace is not being used,” Gulland says. Estimated cost: $200 to over $1,000.
    4. Grate heaters and radiators aren’t as large as complete fireplace inserts (see below), but capture a significant amount of heat from the fire and force it into the house. “I consider these to be a hazardous product because they actually make heat,” Gulland says, “But a decorative masonry fireplace isn’t designed for heating, and the building code clearances were established before this kind of thing was contemplated. So, they don’t prevent overheating of adjacent combustibles. I don’t recommend these at all.” Estimated cost: $410 to $615.
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