by Don Ames, www.detectenergy.com, and the eNewsletter, the Energy Spy Insider
People can have a Love-hate relationship with their wood burning fireplace. There is a lot of loving and hating going on right about now, because cooler weather has come and there are about 35 million fireplaces in the U.S. Whether we are hanging the Christmas stockings with care or trying to get rid of the big limb that fell out of the fir tree, we use our fireplaces for a wide variety of reasons.
Too often, we love the idea of having a fireplace in the home to feel a close connection between our home and all those great, cozy, fireplace pictures that can be seen in most any home magazine. On the other hand, we hate the idea of needing to clean out the ashes before setting the fire for the family Thanksgiving dinner.
Before we can begin to keep warm beside our cozy fireplace, we need to realize a wood burning fireplace is probably the least efficient appliance in the home. 9o% of the heat it creates from burning wood, goes right up the chimney. A fireplace pulls 4 to 10 times as much air out of the room as it needs to keep the fire burning. Even when the fireplace is just sitting there, looking cozy without a fire, warm air from the room is being sucked up the chimney.
Furthermore, the smoke from a wood burning fireplace contains methane, carcinogens, carbon monoxide, and a bucket full of other toxic gases. And when conditions are not right, a backdraft can occur and send smoke and soot back into the house. Plus, when efficiency is considered, let's not forget about cutting, splitting, hauling, and storing our wood supply.
Realizing the fireplace is not a high efficient, clean heating source will help us have a more successful relationship with this household appliance.
Simply stated, they are losers because, they allow a direct, open connection between the inside of the home and the outside of the home.
What happens when you light up the fireplace on a cold winters evening? You roll up a wad of newspaper, grab some kindling, add a few sticks of maple to the grate and then carefully add a match.
A spark screen is added to the front of the fireplace, and the heat returned drops to about 12%.