How to Make Traditional Fireplace More Efficient -6 Tips

How to Make a Gas Fireplace More Realistic

Did you know that your traditional fireplace may not be working as efficiently as you think but there are things you can do to correct this and make the fireplace more efficient?

The charm and beauty of a traditional fireplace are hard to conjure with any other fireplace type. if you think about it, you will realize that all other fireplace types including electric ones try to mimic the flame and the aesthetic that masonry fireplaces have delivered since time immemorial.

However, for all the beauty and rustic charm a traditional fireplace may have, its traditional design has one major flaw; they lose too much heat to the chimney and therefore have the worst energy efficiency rating of all fireplaces with up to 90% of the heat escaping through the flue and into the atmosphere.

The good news is that traditional fireplaces can be adjusted and improved to deliver better heating efficiency.

This is a welcomed thought for many homeowners because it means they do not have to trade off having a traditional fireplace and contending with a low heat efficiency in the home as that can be costly. Neither do homeowners have to settle for a diminished fireside experience because they chose a wood-burning fireplace.

The question begs – can you have a traditional fireplace and still achieve better energy efficiency in your home?

Well, the answer is yes.

However, most of the solutions will do so in varying degrees. Some of these measures will improve your traditional fireplace’s ability to retain heat while other will offer a total solution that solves the heat loss situation once and for all. Let’s check them out.

How to Make Traditional Open Fireplace More Efficient

1. Install Glass Fireplace Doors

Glass doors are a great solution for the front open end of a traditional fireplace. The glass used for fireplace doors can either be tempered glass or ceramic glass owing to their reinforced strength and ability to withstand high temperatures from the combusting wood in the firebox.

You can always consult with your local fireplace professional to advise on which glass type will be best suited for your fireplace.

Glass doors are effective in keeping your home warm because they seal the open face of a traditional fireplace which then prevents cold drafts from finding their way into the room. At the same time, the glass door does a stellar job of absorbing and radiating heat into the room for significantly improved energy efficiency.

While fireplace glass doors add to the aesthetic look of your fireplace and improve the surroundings while enhancing the energy efficiency and lessening the smoke that finds its way into your living room from your masonry fireplace, they do not fully solve the heat loss issue via the chimney.

When fire glass doors are added to a unit with a damper, the energy efficiency is noticeably improved.

2. Install a Fireback

Firebacks are steel plates made from steel or cast iron and are made in a size that will fit your masonry fireplace. The accessory is placed on the floor of the hearth or leaned against the back wall of the firebox.

Like fire glass doors, a fireback absorbs heat and helps radiate that heat into the room for better heating efficiency and therefore re-directs a good chunk of heat into the home that would have otherwise been lost through the chimney.

This improves the heating efficiency of the traditional fireplace especially when there is a damper installed into the throat of the chimney.

3. Use a Fireplace Insert

Fireplace inserts have gained popularity over the years especially when looking to revamp an old fireplace or resolve the lack of energy efficiency in a masonry fireplace.

They are made from steel, cast iron, and glass to create a fireproof chamber. Fireplace inserts typically take the shape of a box that sits on the hearth of your fireplace.

They are favored because they can be inserted into the cavity of your fireplace without much demolishing and repairs on your traditional fireplace.

Fireplace inserts can be powered by wood, gas, or electricity and therefore offer good versatility that can be easily incorporated into a masonry fireplace for better energy efficiency.

It’s worth pointing out that wood fireplace insert will require their own specialized and more energy-efficient chimney that is fitted in the existing chimney.

Electric fireplace inserts are super-efficient and cost-effective in the long run. They use LEDs to create realistic dancing flames whose size and intensity can be adjusted via remote control or a control panel on the device. Some electric fireplace inserts feature refractory logs, a bed of embers as well as a grate complete with crackling sounds that paint quite a realistic picture and offer a great fireside experience.

Amazing as they look, they obviously can’t match up to real wood, smoke, and real flames.

That said, high-quality electric fireplace insert options look good enough, are smoke-free and their energy efficiency rating is unmatched at 99% efficiency.

Because they can be easily inserted into a traditional fireplace cavity with little to no demolitions in your fireplace and require no vent, their popularity has grown exponentially. It’s not hard to see why!

The electric inserts come in many designs and sizes to suit any traditional fireplace.

4. Insert a Gas log Heater

Gas log heaters are an innovative way of preserving the traditional look of your fireplace while improving energy efficiency.

Gas logs can be vented or one can opt for vent-free options. Gas logs offer a memorable and clean fire experience using a heater with prefabricated life-like logs and gas-powered flames in a traditional fireplace.

A vented gas log option can use the existing chimney with a damper that remains open the entire time that the gas logs are on. A vent-free gas log option on the other hand offers remarkably high energy efficiency because heat loss through a vent is eliminated.

5.  Burn the Right Type Wood

People will often times just use any type of wood available to them and not even realize they could be getting so much more from their fires with a suitable type of wood.

Ideally, dry hardwoods such as hickory, oak, maple, and ash are recommended for burning as they provide a longer burn time and hotter with less smoke.

6. Use a Fireplace Grate

Fireplace grates are important accessories with immense benefits but perhaps of importance here is that they  promote efficient burning of wood logs.

This is because as a result of being raised from the hearth’s surface, there’s better ventilation and an abundance of oxygen necessary for burning .

Final Thoughts

Traditional or masonry fireplaces are a novelty that most households and establishments will welcome. If you wish to retain but improve their naturally flawed energy efficiency without necessarily buying anything, start by cleaning the fireplace and using recommended wood type.

Better still, consider putting some money aside for a solution that will not allow it to entirely lose its traditional charm while improving its energy efficiency.



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