Wood-Burning Stoves and Fireplace Inserts: Much More Efficient Than Open Fireplaces

by | Mar 12, 2015 | Stoves and Fireplaces

Fireplace Insert Heating Efficiency - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service

Regency Classic™
Medium Wood Insert

For those who have an older masonry fireplace, the downsides of an open fireplace are very familiar. Even though you love the entire experience of sitting by the fire, smelling the wood burn, and hearing the embers crackling, you may have noticed that while you are provided with warmth directly by the fireplace, most of the heat from the fire immediately escapes out the chimney. While a traditional open fireplace can give you the comfort of a wood fire experience, it really is an extremely inefficient way to heat your home. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) even says, “Designed more for show, traditional open masonry fireplaces should not be considered heating devices.” Mr. Smokestack sells and installs both Regency and our homestate’s Buck Stove wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts that can convert your old masonry fireplace into an efficient heating appliance. We would like to share with you some information from the DOE about why a wood-burning stove and fireplace insert are more efficient than a traditional open fireplace.

Why are traditional open fireplaces such inefficient heating appliances?

The DOE states that the typical masonry fireplace draws in as much as 300 cubic feet of heated room air per minute for combustion and then sends this air straight out the chimney. Another downside to the traditional open fireplace is how much air pollution it can produce. Even though some fireplace designs have tried to make the traditional fireplace more efficient with glass doors, dedicated air supplies, and heat recovery systems, most older open masonry fireplaces are major energy losers, unfortunately.

I am familiar with wood-burning stoves, but what exactly is a wood-burning fireplace insert?

Basically the same thing as a wood-burning stove, the insert has been designed to fit into the open masonry fireplace and use the existing chimney. However, we want to emphasize the importance of your insert being professionally installed so it will function efficiently and safely. The insert should be as airtight as possible because the more airtight it is, the easier it is to control the fire and its heat output. Most traditional fireplaces have flues that are disproportionately larger than fireplace inserts, which is why our technicians at Mr. Smokestack will also install a new stainless steel flue liner to fit the insert exactly, which increases its safety and efficiency.

Why are wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts more efficient and cleaner burning than traditional masonry fireplaces? I thought burning wood can be harmful to the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has certified many wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts as low emission heating appliances. Designed to provide the traditional wood-burning fire experience yet also burn wood with fewer pollutants, these stoves and fireplace inserts are also designed to heat much more efficiently, effectively, and cleanly. Room air is drawn in through vents under the firebox, heated through a heat exchanger, and sent back into your home either through vents at the top of the stove or fireplace or through ducts leading to other rooms in your house. According to The National Association of the Remodeling Industry, installing an EPA-certified wood-burning stove or fireplace insert could result in 70 percent fewer particulate emissions and reduce your wood use by 30 percent compared to a traditional fireplace.

Have more questions about converting your old open fireplace with a wood-burning stove or fireplace insert? Contact Mr. Smokestack to ask our expert staff anything you would like to know about this efficient way to heat your home with a wood fire.

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