How Your Fireplace Works
The first step to making your fireplace more efficient is to understand how it works. As we all know a fire requires oxygen to burn, it gets this oxygen from air. While your fireplace is burning wood two other basic principles are in effect. The first principle is that hot air rises, this means that you lose some of your heat up the chimney. The second principle is that cold air drops. This means that there is a constant flow of cold air coming down the chimney into your home. To make your fireplace more efficient you must reduce the effects of these natural processes.
The first solution is to install a set of heavy glass doors in front of your fireplace. There are many different types of doors on the market, and they are reasonably priced making this fix one of the fastest and least expensive options. Fireplace doors are designed with small vents in the bottom that will give your fireplace an adequate supply of oxygen so it can burn. Glass doors also keep you from losing warm air from your home up the chimney. They also help to prevent cold air coming down the chimney from entering your home. Another benefit of glass doors is that many of them are ornate and beautiful which will add to the overall look of your fireplace and the room where it is located.
Installing a fireplace insert may be the best way to make your fireplace more efficient. While adding an insert will cost a little more, you will find that your home is warmer and that you burn less wood. A fireplace insert is much the same as a wood stove only it fits inside of your existing fireplace. You will have a liner installed in your chimney that will be connected to your insert. What makes and insert so energy efficient is that it is tightly sealed. You will not lose warm air up the chimney because the insert is tightly sealed with a heavy door on the front. This tight seal will not allow cold air into your home. Another factor is the liner, it is also tightly sealed so less cold air comes down the chimney in the first place.
Other Possible Options
Another option that is less expensive than the first two options is to line the back of your fireplace with sheet metal. This will act as a reflector and reflect more warm air into your home. If your fireplace is older check your damper. Over time dampers lose some of their ability to seal properly. If your damper is not sealing properly then replace it, this can make a big difference in the efficiency of your fireplace.