The Pros & Cons of Having an Indoor Fireplace - Milkwood (2022)

The Pros & Cons of Having an Indoor Fireplace - Milkwood (1)

Over the years, we’ve lived in a few off-grid houses in cold climates. And in these houses, we relied on wood energy to warm our house, cook our food AND heat our hot water – on many a cold and rainy day. Each time, our woodstove was at the core of our kitchen.

I loved its gentle radiant heat, like a slow happiness that got into everyone’s bones, even as we slept.

And I loved that, even if all else failed – say, a huge storm came along and the world outside became dark and lost – I could still cook my family and crew a big, hot, nourishing dinner. And pudding as well.

But that was then. These days we live just above a village in a valley, in southern lutruwita / Tasmania.

A place where the topography causes cool air to fall and pool, and smoke from the many wood-burning fireplaces (and from State Government-approved forestry burns too) settles in a hazy layer around the homes and families and children of the valley – folks who can’t help but breathe it all in.

Multiple studies are now pointing to a host of not-great health impacts from exposure to that smoke and associated pollution.

Some cities in the US and Canda have actually banned new wood-burning fireplaces because they contribute to air pollution – and some councils in Australia are considering the same. Just last year, Asthma Australia called for a national phase-out of wood heaters, citing their negative impact on human health.

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So – woodstoves and fireplaces. Are they excellent? Are they terrible?

Well, the answer isn’t necessarily crystal cut. Fireplaces and woodstoves can have good elements and not-so-good.

It’s a tricky conundrum for those of us aiming to live a permaculture life.

On the one hand, ‘Fair Share’ and ‘People Care’ stand as two core ethics, so we must consider the impact of our actions and choices on other people.

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On the other, we aim to ‘use and value renewable resources’. And some wood – especially things like stickwood, coppice, and well-managed woodlots – can easily fall into this category. There’s plenty of firewood that does not fit into the ‘renewable resource’ category however, depending on where/how you’re sourcing your firewood. We’ll leave that point with you.

But, resilience…

Yes, it’s true that when/if the power goes out, being able to heat your water, cook food and stay warm is a Darn Good Idea. And a decent woodstove can do all those things beautifully.

But what about the rest of the time? Do we need to put our own household’s resilience before the ongoing health of our communities? Shouldn’t we instead be challenging and changing the larger energy systems we ALL rely on, to focus on community solar and mini-grids, so that everyone has access to renewable, stable and resilient power to cook and to stay warm?

Really, like so many elements of permaculture living, the decision on whether to burn wood to heat your home will come down to your personal (and community) context.

So – let’s take a look at the pros and cons of becoming a wood-burning household, as well as some good things to think about when deciding whether to warm your home with fire.

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First up, the type of fireplace / woodstove you choose is important

Open fireplaces, the kind that were really common in houses a century ago, are best avoided altogether. They burn inefficiently and so give off the most pollution – both in your home, and into your ecosystem – and a lot of the heat is lost up your chimney anyway.

Then there’s combustion fireplaces, and wood-burning stoves. These tend to be more efficient than open fireplaces, as they operate in a closed-box environment. You can better control the amount of air going in, meaning you can manage the fire so it burns somewhat more efficiently.

Lots of different models exist – in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has an EPA Certified Wood Heater Database, where you can compare models according to their efficiency and emissions rates.

Wood pellet stoves are growing in popularity as a more environmentally friendly heating option. They’re fuelled by specially formulated tiny logs made from waste sawdust and other wood byproducts, which are designed to burn very efficiently – although you need to consider how those pellets are being made, and the embodied energy within. You’re also reliant apon a pellet supplier, and can’t easily make your own, without the right gear.

If you already have a wood heater installed, or are thinking about getting one, researching its burning efficiency and likely emissions is an essential first step.

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The cons of an indoor fireplace – pollution, health impacts

OK, so I alluded to some of the health issues associated with smoke from indoor fireplaces before – let’s take a closer look at that.

According to New South Wales Health:

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“Smoke from wood-burning heaters is a complex mixture of particles and gases and contributes significantly to air pollution. The main air pollutants in wood smoke are particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and a range of other organic compounds like formaldehyde, benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

“Smoke from wood-burning heaters can affect your health. Long-term exposure can cause heart and lung disease, while brief exposures can aggravate asthma or worsen pre-existing heart conditions.”

This especially impacts children, older folks and people with heart or lung conditions, such as angina, asthma or emphysema.

But, really, air pollution affects us all. It can even cause premature death. In cities like Launceston, in lutruwita Tasmania – which sits in a big valley – the collective smog from woodfires was causing so many community health problems that the council initiated a city-wide buyback scheme, to remove wood-burning stoves from homes, in an attempt to improve health outcomes. Canberra in the ACT has tried a similar thing.

It’s true that this technique is a bit clunky, because not all woodstoves emit the same amount of pollution… but it’s also true that our individual actions can have big effects on our community’s health – which is something we all need to consider.

And fireplaces don’t just affect the air outside. One study found that opening a wood burner door to refuel your fire releases harmful pollution particles inside your home, which can take an hour or two to dissipate.

So – perhaps all this causes you to firmly scratch a fireplace off your home heating list? If so, consider how you will source alternative heating, and where that energy will come from.

Because as we all know, burning fossil fuels contributes hugely to climate-altering pollution and catastrophic climate change… which is already impacting the health of people and planet – starting with those who are the least privileged, and who have the least power to stop it. So finding a sustainable alternative to coal-fired electricity and gas – if this is where the energy will come from to heat your home – should be a priority for all of us who can afford to do so.

What better energy options are available in your area? Can you source greener power? Do you have the resources to install solar panels? Is there wind power or hydroelectricity in your area?

And if not, what models and strategies could you initiate or get involved with, to lobby your energy provider for greener power, OR how can you help organise to change the energy options where you live? Hepburn ZNet is one inspiring example of community-powered energy. And there’s plenty more.

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The pros of a home fireplace – energy resilience, multiple functions + cosy times

Wood is a renewable resource, in that it grows back – unlike gas and coal-fired electricity, which many of us rely on for heating and cooking. Depending on where you live, wood can also be sustainably produced and sourced locally, unlike its fossil fuel alternatives.

So, a home woodstove or fire offers a level of energy independence and low-tech resilience that’s hard to go past, for some.

A wood burner can also serve more functions beyond heating. Your fire might also:

  • Heat your shower and bathwater.
  • Slow-cook your dinner and warm your porridge in the morning.
  • Boil the kettle.
  • Dry clothes on even the wettest of days.
  • Help your sourdough rise.
  • Help get seedlings going in mid-winter.

Here are a few other benefits of indoor fireplaces:

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  • Provides you with a ‘negative feedback loop’ if you’re burning inappropriately – perhaps you’re lighting your fire poorly or burning green wood, which gives off loads of smoke, and your neighbors complain. This can be a helpful immediate feedback loop, which encourages you to find a more efficient approach – as opposed to outsourcing your personal pollution to a distant coal-fired power station, that remains out of sight and mind – while slowly creating a climate catastrophe for all of us.
  • Teaches us to value local forests – in this more localised energy system, you might develop a direct connection to the fuel source and become part of a management system that prioritises and improves woodlots and forests.
  • Reconnects you with a traditional skill – the art of lighting and maintaining a good fire is a skill one must learn in order to avoid a smoking mess that makes things awful for everyone. We’re fans of the Upside-Down Fire Technique here at Milkwood, as it’s a cleaner burn with far less smoke and better combustion, gives off more heat, needs less tending and uses the embodied energy in wood more efficiently than the tent-esque fire method.
  • Offers you a secondary yield of wood ash – this can be useful in the garden or compost as a source of calcium and potassium carbonate, but be careful not to use too much – it is highly alkaline.
  • Provides heating when everything else fails – perhaps you acknowledge all the cons of a home fireplace but choose to have one anyway, along with a good, dry supply of wood, as a ‘just in case’ option for days when the power might go out, or a future when energy supply might be more disrupted by the climate crisis.

A note on good wood: If you decide a fire does have a place in your home system, this is a useful article to read on the importance of using properly cured wood (air dried for 12 to 24 months) and the best way to load up your wood burner before bed, without causing excessive smoke through the night.

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Our current home solution – a combination of both

So, with all this in mind – what are we now doing here at our place in lutruwita Tasmania?

When we bought our house, it was heated by a single heat pump (reverse-cycle aircon) and an old slow combustion fireplace. We were keen to switch the old woodheater for an efficient woodstove, but as we learned more about the affects of woodsmoke on community health in valleys like ours… we had to sit down and have a good think.

Where did heating meet resilience meet best community outcomes, for us?

The first thing we did was install a Heat Transfer Kit – this is a great, cheap and low-energy way to efficiently move hot air from a warm room (or from the roof cavity, when the sun is shining) to other colder rooms, and cycle it around. With this system, we could rely on just one heat source to heat the whole house, with minimal energy used.

The Heat Pump in the main space is electric, and 90% of the electricity in lutruwita Tasmania comes from Hydropower – which is about as ‘green’ as electricity gets. So clearly the lowest-impact way to heat our place was going to be with this unromantic but efficient device.

But what about when the power goes out? As it does when the weather is wild down this way, and who knows what the future holds in that regard. Relying JUST on grid electricity didn’t seem smart, now that we were finally not renting, and could make our own call on this.

Rooftop solar and batteries is something we’d love to install when we can, but long story short our roof needs replacing first, which is super exxy, and we need to do that before putting solar panels on and getting batteries (also exxy). So that’s all on the ‘one day’ list, at the moment.

So in the meantime, we installed an efficient wood heater to use occasionally – in times of power-outage, and on winter Sundays, when we’re all home, all day. It’s a Australian-made Thermalux – a wood heater, which is also a stovetop, and an oven, and which has a water jacket that we added on, to heat our hot water when the stove is fired up.

This way, if the power is out, we can still heat our home, make soup for the whole street and bake bread as well – plus heat water for whoever needs a wash.

And on some winter Sundays, we fire it up – to heat the house, provide endless cups of tea, dry all the socks, and cook lunch and also amazing pizzas, all at once. We make the most of that energy, if we’re choosing to use it, and stack as many functions on top that we can. The hot water system gets a massive boost also, and cosy fireside times are had by one and all.

As mentioned above, this occasional use only works well if we’re using dry, well-cured and sustainably sourced wood. We’re lucky to have a local sawmill that sells packs of seasoned off-cuts from their milling process, and that’s the best source we’ve come up with so far.

So – minimal impact of community – tick. Also resilience – tick. Plus happy humans.

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And that’s what we’ve settled on at the moment – given our situation, available funds, and our need to be warm.

This might not be the right answer for you – everyone’s context is different – but it’s what is currently working for us.

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Emerging alternatives for healthier fires – the Rocket Stove

Rocket Stoves are hyper energy efficient, can be built by almost anyone out of ‘rubbish’ (an old tin can, basically) and result in more usable heat than any other wood-burning system we’ve come across. Some are for cooking, some for heating. All rely on maximum effect for minimum input.

The big difference, compared to fireplaces, is that rocket stoves (and other technologies like them) allow close to complete combustion.

So, rather than emitting smoke, soot or creosote out a chimney, all those compounds are instead sucked into the stove’s insulated burn tunnel and combusted – releasing even more heat. You can actually hear the air roaring through the system, supercharging the fire as it goes.

You don’t need much wood to run a well-made rocket stove – and it will give off very little smoke. Which is also a sign of energy efficiency, and a reduction in pollution.

If you’re interested in exploring this idea, here are the basic steps to make your own pocket rocket stove, perfect for cooking dinner. Perhaps one day the Rocket Stove will be available in home fireplace form?

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Whichever heating method you use – choose a jumper first!

If you do go the fireplace route, one thing is clear – burning wood sparingly is always a good choice.

Wherever you can, choose other options first – put on a jumper, grab a blanket, open up the blinds on equator-facing windows (north in the Southern Hemisphere, south in the Northern Hemisphere) during the day, do some star jumps even!

And, if you can and are able, improve the passive heating capabilities of your house – you might add a heat-catching glasshouse on the equator side of the house, improve your insulation to prevent heat escaping, or get thick and cosy curtains and blinds for your windows. Follow the ‘passive house, active human’ ethos, if you can.

Really, all of these simple actions are beneficial, regardless of the type of heating system you choose.

Because, whether you’re burning wood or flicking a switch, it all relies on precious resources. The more we wind back our consumption and lower our impact, the better for our planet, our household, and our community.

So – which way would you go, and what works best in your own home and context? Any thoughts on all this? We’d love to hear your perspective in the comments below.

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Resources

  • Call to phase out wood heaters due to health, environmental concerns – an ABC Australia article.
  • Wood burners triple harmful indoor air pollution, study finds – a Guardian article.
  • A useful ABC Australia article on ways to manage your home fireplace so it produces less pollution.
  • DIY Rocket Stove Technology: A Round-Up of Low-Energy Cooking Options – our Milkwood article introducing you to the magic of Rocket Stoves – and you can also learn how to make your own one here – or, Rocket-Powered Shower, anyone?
  • Natural Building: Passive House, Active People – our Milkwood article on ways to heat and cool your home with less energy inputs.
  • Urban Firewood Forager’s Guide – a handy how-to from Pip Magazine about free ways to source decent wood in the city.
  • Thermal + Haybox cooking: new ways to use an old technique – our Milkwood article on how to cook without the need for continuous heat, from a fireplace or stove or whatever.
  • Creating an Inside-Outside Woodbox for a Tiny House – a nifty little device we came up with years ago, so we could add firewood via a purpose-built external door, then open it from the inside, next to the woodstove.

Useful community contributions (from you folks):

  • “have a look at ULEBs (ultra- low emission burners) on the Environment Canterbury web site). The new wood burners are more efficient and produce about one-twentieth as much smoke when compared to smoke measured from wood heaters in Australian homes. Another important benefit is the NZ heaters produce less methane (a strong greenhouse gas) than our Australian heaters.” – John Todd
  • “Check out Pyro Fires (NZ made)” – via Instagram – These look amazing, to be honest – a riff on rocket stove re-burn ideas… they’re also available in Australia via this mob (and others?)
  • “When sourcing a wood heater in Australia I used :https://www.homeheat.com.au/wood-heaters/certified-wood-heaters/as a reference which I thought might be better than a US Environment Protection Agency link, although I note it doesn’t list Thermalux which may only be because it hasn’t been updated for a while.” Barbara
  • “Ecological forestry is not just a less bad energy option.Managing forest for balanced production of fuel, timber and other ecological services is one of the very best outcomes we can support with our time or money.” – David Holmgren

We acknowledge that permaculture owes the roots of its theory and practice to traditional and Indigenous knowledges, from all over the world. We all stand on the shoulders of many ancestors – as we learn, and re-learn, these skills and concepts. We pay our deepest respects and give our heartfelt thanks to these knowledge-keepers, both past and present.⁠

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FAQs

Is it safe to have an indoor fireplace? ›

Fires might trigger respiratory conditions

“The result can be burning eyes, a runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis.” The tiny particles can find their way deep into your lungs and bloodstream — exacerbating preexisting conditions, such as asthma. And even healthy people might feel temporarily ill.

Can fireplace cause health issues? ›

Burning wood in your fireplace all winter may feel cozy and keep you warm, but smoke from those fires can also cause health problems. Wood fires release tiny particles that get into the lungs and can harm people with underlying health conditions. This can affect the lungs and the heart as well.

Is it good to have a fireplace? ›

Having a fireplace installed in the home can really improve the look and the feel of the room in which it is installed. Fires provide a more natural type of warmth that many individuals feel is more comfortable and sitting in front of a warm fireplace provides a great means of relaxation and calming.

Is it worth having a wood burning fireplace? ›

There are many advantages to burning wood instead of other types of fuel such as gas or logs made from waste wood. Burning clean natural wood logs with a wood-burning fireplace can reduce your annual greenhouse gas emissions by almost 30%. These types of fires have no negative impact on indoor air quality.

What is the safest type of fireplace? ›

Electric models are generally the safest type of fireplace, and are a great option for those who want a safe, low maintenance appliance.

Is it OK to leave fireplace burning overnight? ›

You should never leave your fireplace burning and unattended overnight while you sleep. This represents a major safety hazard. A fireplace should never be left burning if it is going to be unattended in any capacity. This includes during the night while you sleep.

Can a fireplace cause sinus problems? ›

Health effects of wood smoke

The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles, also called fine particulate matter or PM2. 5. These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they may cause burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses, such as bronchitis.

Are wood fireplaces unhealthy? ›

Wood-Burning Emissions Threaten Lung Health

Emissions from wood smoke, discussed below, can cause coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, and premature death, among other health effects. Many of these pollutants can worsen air quality indoors and outdoors.

What wood is toxic burning? ›

Poisonous Wood

Burning poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac and poisonwood creates smoke with irritant oils that can cause severe breathing problems and eye irritation.

Why do people want fireplaces? ›

One of the most commonly overlooked benefits of installing a fireplace in a home is that you are gaining an additional source of heat that can significantly reduce your monthly heating bills in the winter.

What is the point of a fireplace? ›

A fireplace or hearth is a structure made of brick, stone or metal designed to contain a fire. Fireplaces are used for the relaxing ambiance they create and for heating a room. Modern fireplaces vary in heat efficiency, depending on the design.

Do people want fireplaces? ›

According to the 2019 edition NAHB's What Home Buyers Really Want, 55% and 48% of home buyers rate gas and wood burning fireplaces, respectively, as at least desirable. By this measure, fireplaces fall in the middle of the list of decorative features in the NAHB survey in terms of desirability.

Will a fireplace increase home value? ›

Return on Investment

A homeowner can often recover over 100 percent of the expenses associated with adding a fireplace upon selling their home. According to the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers, adding a fireplace to home can increase the resale value of the home by as much as 6-12 percent.

Does a wood fireplace save money? ›

Depending on what you pay for electricity, wood heat can be a very cost-effective alternative. For example, if you are paying $0.10 per KWH for energy charges plus delivery charges, fees, and taxes, wood pellets would save you about 50 percent on your heating bill, and cordwood would save even more.

What's better gas or wood fireplace? ›

In the battle for most efficient fireplace, gas fireplace efficiency is always going to win over wood fireplace efficiency. That's because gas fireplaces burn more cleanly and produce fewer polluting emissions.

Why are there no fireplaces in new homes? ›

Building a chimney adds to the cost of a new house, so to keep them affordable, they are often left out. In addition to this is the fact that many new builds are designed to be as efficient as possible. More recent building regulations now require homes to meet minimum levels of airtightness.

Which is the best fireplace brand? ›

Top Rated Fireplaces & Fireplace Manufacturers
  • Empire Fireplaces.
  • Monessen Fireplaces.
  • Napoleon Fireplaces.
  • Superior Fireplaces.
  • Majestic Fireplaces.
  • Kingsman Fireplaces.
  • Fire Sense Fireplaces.
  • Bio Flame Fireplaces.

What are indoor fireplaces called? ›

An indoor open wood-burning fireplace, or “open hearth” fireplace, is the classic image of a fireplace throughout history.

How do you extinguish a fireplace before bed? ›

To put a fire out, first, spread the firewood and embers with a fire poker so they cool more quickly. Then, spray the fire thoroughly with a spray bottle filled with water, which will produce less steam than pouring a bucket of water on the fire. Alternatively, you can pour baking soda over the embers and firewood.

How do you put out a fire in an indoor fireplace? ›

How to Put Out a Fire in a Fireplace - YouTube

When should you close the fireplace doors? ›

The doors should always be fully open or fully closed. Glass doors should be fully open when starting a fire and when the fire is burning strongly. The glass doors should be closed as the fire dies down to minimize the amount of room air going up the fireplace chimney.

Why does my fireplace give me a headache? ›

Pollutants in wood smoke can cause the eyes, nose and throat to burn with irritation, and even cause headaches, nausea and acute bronchitis in some people.

Can a fireplace cause carbon monoxide? ›

Yes, gas fireplaces are one potential cause of carbon monoxide poisoning. While there are many potential sources of such exposure, including certain appliances and devices, motor vehicles and wood stoves, gas fireplaces are a common culprit.

Can fireplaces cause coughing? ›

Poorly maintained and inefficient fireplaces can lead to difficulty breathing, coughing, irritation of the lungs, and asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. Ensure your wood burning appliances are being used properly and not causing breathing problems or making air unpleasant for your neighbours.

Is wood smoke worse than cigarette smoke? ›

Wood smoke vs. cigarette smoke: EPA estimates suggest that a single fireplace operating for an hour and burning 10 pounds of wood generates 4,300 times more carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons than 30 cigarettes.

Do wood burning fireplaces make your house smell? ›

WHAT IS THAT CAMPFIRE SMELL IN MY LIVING ROOM ?!? Wood-burning fireplace chimneys smell smoky whether they've just been swept or not, because no matter how thoroughly the flue is swept, every trace of soot and soaked-in creosote cannot possibly be removed.

Why does my house smell like smoke after fire in fireplace? ›

Solving Air Pressure

A common reason, as noted above, for the fact that your house smells like smoke from fireplace usage is air pressure. Negative air pressure can leave to this problem. A common reason for negative air pressure revolves around fatigue fans within your kitchen and/or bathroom.

What kind of wood should not be burned in a fireplace? ›

Watch out for any wood covered with vines. Burning poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, or pretty much anything else with "poison" in the name releases the irritant oil urushiol into the smoke. Breathing it in can cause lung irritation and severe allergic respiratory problems, the Centers for Disease Control state.

What is the hottest burning wood? ›

Most oak trees put off a ton of heat when they burn, but the white oak is at the top of the list with an astounding 30.7 million BTUs of heat per cord of wood.

What's the best wood to burn in a fireplace? ›

Hardwoods such as maple, oak, ash, birch, and most fruit trees are the best burning woods that will give you a hotter and longer burn time. These woods have the least pitch and sap and are generally cleaner to handle.

Is removing a fireplace a good idea? ›

“Fireplaces are a sought-after feature among home buyers, and removing them will negatively affect the value of your home,” says Dogan, who adds that they are inviting and evoke feelings of warmth and charm—especially in the Northeast.

Why are fireplaces so comforting? ›

The Sound of a Fireplace is Relaxing

One of the most soothing sounds is the crackling that fire makes. Since you can't always sit outside and listen to the sounds of a bonfire, it can be equally as calming and relaxing to sit in the confines of your own home and listen to the fire as it burns down.

Should you open a window when you have a fire in the fireplace? ›

Open a window when using the fireplace to prevent the room from becoming smoky. The air coming in from the window will go up the chimney. Before making a fire, open the glass doors, pull aside the screen curtains, and place the kindling, newspaper and logs inside.

How much is a fireplace worth in a house? ›

Will a fireplace add value to your home? According to The National Association of Realtors, adding a fireplace can raise your home value by as much as $12,000.

Are fireplace inserts worth it? ›

Studies have shown that as much as 95 percent of the residual heat in a traditional wood fireplace is expelled outside. A wood-burning fireplace insert offers a slower, more efficient burn rate providing up to five hours of uninterrupted heat. It consumes less fuel and has heating efficiencies of 80+ percent!

What is cheaper gas or electric fireplace? ›

Electric fireplaces are cheaper in cost and installation compared to their gas-burning counterparts. While most electric fireplaces do not heat a room as fast as a gas fireplace, they are cheaper to run compared to other types of fireplaces.

What is the biggest drawback to heating with wood? ›

Studies show the tiny particles in wood smoke can be carcinogenic, and they can lead to and exacerbate heart disease, lung disease and asthma. The risk is highest for kids, elderly people, and anyone with heart or lung problems.

How much heat is lost through a fireplace? ›

Putting a Damper on Your Energy Bills

What's more, between 80 and 90 percent of the heat produced by wood burned in an open fireplace is lost up the chimney. This means that for every $100 you spend on firewood, you get only $10 to $20 worth of heat.

How can I make my wood fireplace more efficient? ›

To avoid letting all the heat evaporate, here are five tips to make your fireplace more efficient this winter.
  1. Burn seasoned firewood. ...
  2. Close the dampers. ...
  3. Reverse the circulation of ceiling fans to spread the warmth. ...
  4. Use glass fireplace doors to reduce heat loss. ...
  5. Install a fireplace insert to increase heating efficiency.

How do I make sure my fireplace is safe to use? ›

5 Easy Steps to Make Sure Your Fireplace Is Safe
  1. #1 Examine the Firebox. Look for any cracks, gaps, or signs of wear in the lining of the firebox (the interior of the fireplace). ...
  2. #2 Look for Telltale Smoke Stains. ...
  3. #3 Make Sure Your Grate Is the Right Size. ...
  4. #4 Check the Chimney. ...
  5. #5 Double-Check Your Fire Extinguisher.

Does fireplace make house colder? ›

The standard fireplace is among the most inefficient heating devices you can operate. In fact, it can be so inefficient that in some cases it actually makes your house colder.

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