There’s something very romantic about a fireplace. Snuggling in front of the open flames, the sound of wood crackling, the scent, and the sense of tradition. It makes you feel warm inside just thinking about it. You may also like the idea that in opting for wood you’re choosing a renewable resource.

Sadly the facts aren’t as comforting as the ideas. A typical open fire is only around 15% efficient, which means that 85% of the heat being generated is going straight up the chimney and out into the open air. Worse yet, when not in use, your fireplace may act as a very efficient way of tunnelling heat out of your home. If you’ve decided to opt for solid fuel it’s important to know how to improve the efficiency of a fireplace, so that you’re not wasting energy and paying more than you need to to stay warm. Here are some steps you should consider.

Install a damper

Damper are metal plates that fit over the fire to regulate the air entering the chimney and prevent heat from escaping when the fire isn’t lit. There are two main type of dampers. Throat dampers are installed just above the firebox and ideally are fitted when the chimney is built. Retrofitting one tends to involve some major building work and is expensive. The alternative is a top sealing damper, which fits to the top of the chimney and is used to prevent drafts at times of year when the fire isn’t in use. Both types of dampers are made of metal and if they warp over time they’ll become less efficient.

Fit an inflatable chimney insert

These draft eliminators are inserted into the chimney, inflated and create an airtight seal while the fire isn’t being used. They’re easy to fit, easy to remove and affordable. If you’re wondering how to keep the house warm in the spring or autumn, then preventing the chimney from drawing heat out of your home is a really good start.

Fit fire doors

There are two possibilities here. Some doors are designed to be used only when the fire is out, and again prevent warm air from exiting. Other doors can be used while the fire is burning, or as it’s cooling down, these also reduce the amount of air being used by the fire, so slow down combustion, they may also reduce the amount of dust in the room.

Install a fireplace insert

These are basically woodburing stoves designed to be fitted into traditional fireplaces. Of all the options available, this is the one that will increase the efficiency of the fireplace by the greatest percentage. Fireplace inserts are also the most costly solution and in order for them to be truly safe and efficient, you’ll need to have a stainless steel liner run inserted into the chimney.

Other Ways to Make Your Home More Comfortable

When you’re looking at how to improve heat in your home, there are lots of things to consider. Draft-proofing all doors and windows is a basic step, and making sure that roof spaces and walls are as well insulated as possible is also important. Finally, you may like to reconsider your position on woodburing altogether. A modern efficient gas fire, electric fire, or even an air conditioning unit may actually generate more heat for your money than a woodburner. Alternatively if you’re commited to solid fuels, check out modern pellet burners, these are vastly more efficient than open fires or even traditional wood stoves and they’re also much more controllable enabling you to generate the amount of warmth you need, exactly when you need it.