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How to use your fireplace efficiently

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Enjoy a cozy fire without the high cost
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How to use your fireplace efficiently and safely to create warmth and ambiance

The sight of a roaring fire in a rustic brick fireplace is enough to warm the heart on a cold night. It’s a comfort many people instinctively crave in winter. Added to the pleasure is the belief you’re saving money while heating the home. But are you really?

The warm glow is undeniably beautiful. Unfortunately, many waste energy and fail to heat homes as well as they could. There are several ways to get the most from your masonry fireplace.

Learn how to use your fireplace efficiently with these tips and tricks.

Gas

Gas appliances are available in both decorative models and efficient models that heat. A vented gas fire with an open front should be considered a decorative model—ideal for enhancing a warm atmosphere during family get-togethers and romantic date nights. Vented decorative gas fires use room air—air that you’ve paid to heat to 70 degrees -for combustion, and send the fumes up the chimney. For an efficient vented gas fire, look for a model with a fixed glass front; these are available in both fireplaces for new construction or inserts that are retrofit into an existing fireplace. Direct Vent models use outdoor air for combustion and vent the fumes outdoors. Direct vent models can heat several hundred to more than 2000 sq. ft. Freestanding direct vent gas stoves that look like wood stoves are also available, which provide a means of adding a gas fire to a small space. Direct vent gas appliances offer multiple venting options and can be installed in nearly any room.





Vent free (unvented, or ventless) gas fires use room air for combustion and vent gas byproducts back into the home. They are efficient heaters but can be problematic for individuals with certain health conditions, so do your homework before deciding if this option is right for you.

Gas fires can satisfy a number of visual wish lists. Choose from models with simulated logs, coals, stones, glass and more to ex- press your individual style and décor, be it modern, traditional or vintage.

Electric Fires


Popular for decades in Europe, are becoming a popular choice. Simply plug in an electric fireplace, insert or freestanding stove and you’re able to heat small areas of 400 square feet or so. You get the ambiance of a fire but there are no gas lines to run and no venting is needed.

Masonry

Open masonry fireplaces are simply not efficient. If you burn wood or vented gas logs then consider adding glass doors to your fireplace. Glass doors allow you to close off the fireplace as a wood fire burns down or when gas logs aren’t in use, and help stem the flow of heated room air from escaping up the chimney. Traditional masonry fireplaces can be greatly upgraded with inserts burning gas, wood or wood pellets to lower your heating costs. Get expert advice on how to install them, including any needed chimney lining system needed for the appliance you choose.

Wood Burning Tips


For your safety, never throw plastics, plywood, synthetic fabrics, coated paper or treated wood on a fire. They release toxins dangerous to both the environment and your health. Damp, unseasoned wood adds to the harmful buildup of creosote in your chimney and produces the least heat.

It takes about a full year for split wood to dry in order to burn clean and efficiently. If you’re not sure how to tell if it’s safe to burn, look for cracks at the ends. Another test is striking two seasoned pieces. Those ready to burn will make a cracking sound, while those too wet will sound more like a thud.

Cover wood piles on top and leave them open on the sides – cover fully during snowstorms. Keep your piles on raised platforms or holders inches off the ground. Avoid storing more than a few pieces inside or you’ll increase humidity and bring bugs in.

Knowing how to use your fireplace efficiently will help you enjoy a warmer, cleaner winter. Stack the pieces loosely to increase air flow and get it burning hot and clean.

Dispose of ashes in a metal container with a tight fittng lid. Many home fires and deck fires have been caused by improperly stored ashes that contain hot embers that reignite.

Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned when needed to prevent chimney fires that can damage your home.

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