Tips for Improving Fireplace Efficiency

wood burning

It may be surprising, but wood burning appliances are actually better for the environment than most modern heat sources.

None of the heat sources available for homeowners can compare with wood-burning heating appliances which allow users to watch the dance of flames.  Besides the pleasantness of warming by a fire, when you use a fireplace or wood burning stove efficiently, you are helping to protect the environment.  Thanks to modern advances in fireplaces and wood stoves, the practicality of using these old-fashioned heat sources has been revived.

Not all fireplaces are used efficiently.  The following are tips for enjoying greater efficiency from your fireplace.

Fireplace inserts

You can improve fireplace efficiency 10 fold by installing a fireplace insert.  This smart wood-burning appliance is specially designed for the purpose of transforming a fireplace into a more efficient heat source.  Fireplace inserts are typically constructed of cast iron or heavy steel, and they are placed inside the masonry fireplace box.  The front of a fireplace insert is typically insulated glass, which allows you to watch fires while enjoying a greater degree of warmth than an open fire provides.


Closing your chimney damper when the fireplace isn’t used will help you reduce the costs of heating and cooling your home.  A damper is a metal plate typically situated just above the throat of the chimney which opens and closes. The damper controls the flow of air and smoke which travels up the chimney or into your home.

Dampers don’t always seal well, meaning cold air can enter the home or warm air can be sucked up through the chimney.  It’s best to also have a chimney cap damper which closes at the top of the chimney and reduces the amount of air that can fill the chimney and ultimately enter the home. Using both dampers is a good way of reducing costs of both heating and cooling your home.

Seasoned Hardwood Logs

fireplace efficiency

It is important to only burn properly seasoned wood to maintain an efficient fire.

Another way to improve fireplace efficiency is by burning the right kind of firewood.  The wood should be seasoned, which is to say that it should be thoroughly dried.  After a tree is cut down, it usually takes six months to a year for enough moisture to dissipate to make the logs ideal for burning efficiently.

When you see smoke going up your chimney, you’re also seeing wasted energy.  Wood that produces less smoke burns hotter and emits more heat.

Besides being sure to use seasoned firewood, you can choose to use softwood or hardwood.  For hotter, more long-lasting fires, burn hardwood.  Softwood isn’t as dense but will burn efficiently if it’s thoroughly dried.

Efficient fires

There’s typically some smoke when a fire is first started and when it’s burning out.  Don’t put too many logs on the fire.  Burn a hot fire, but gradually add logs as heat builds.  It’s best to burn the fire hot but not go overboard and build a huge fire.

Inspection and cleaning

fireplace efficiency

By simply calling your local chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney annually you will increase the efficiency of your fireplace.

When you hire a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney annually, you are taking an important step in ensuring the safety of your home and family.  A certified professional will remove creosote and is equipped to identify whether there are any cracks in the flue lining.  Heat escapes through cracks and can cause a house fire.

One of the easiest ways to improve your fireplace’s effectiveness is by cleaning it.  Regularly remove ash from the bottom pan, and clean soot from the inside.  If you have just one-tenth of an inch of soot layered inside the fireplace, the heat-transfer efficiency of your fireplace can be lowered by as much as 50%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Wood-burning appliances are much better for the environment, not to mention that they are more enjoyable than central heating units.  Now, with the cost of modern heating rising at a steady rate, the highly efficient and environmentally friendly fireplaces and wood stoves are making a strong comeback.

Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110
Phone: 860-233-5770

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