Get cozy with an energy-efficient fireplace or woodstove
The chill of winter is sending homeowners to stoke up their woodstoves and fireplaces. This type of heat is warm and cozy, but is it as energy-efficient as you think? Did you know that most wood-burning fireplaces convert only 15 percent of the wood’s energy into usable heat?
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 9 out of the 12 million wood stoves in homes around the United States are non EPA-certified, so they are 50 percent less efficient than the newer stoves. A newer stove also uses one-third less wood to deliver the same amount of heat, which reduces your firewood expense.
The newer fireplace designs address the heat factor. Rather than sending most of the heat up the chimney, they direct more warmth into the home’s interior.
If you want to keep your existing fireplace, you can install a fireplace insert to produce better efficiency. These sealed metal boxes burn wood or pellets, and do a better job of circulating warm air into your home because the sealed chamber prevents it from being redirected outside.
A gas fireplace can be direct-vent or vent-free. A direct-vent gas fireplace brings in outside air for combustion to fuel the fire, while the vent-free uses the air inside your home—ideal for those homes that don’t have a chimney or vent. The added bonus is that you don’t have to buy or cut firewood or worry about safely removing and discarding the ashes. With gas, you always have more control over the temperature with by setting the thermostat, while the heat from a wood-burning fireplace can only be adjusted with moving the damper.
An energy-efficient fireplace or woodstove also reduces risks. They’re designed to reduce the creosote build-up, the leading cause of chimney fires. From an environmental standpoint, switching to an energy-efficient woodstove or fireplace also reduces the amount of indoor and outdoor particle pollution by 70 percent!
Here’s the EPA’s latest list of certified wood heaters. If you choose wood as your fuel, make sure you use only seasoned wood that has been outside and dried in the sun for at least six months. Unseasoned wood produces more smoke and creosote.