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Fireplace + Insert = Efficiency

room with fireplace with insert

Fireplace + Insert = Efficiency


Fireplaces add warmth and coziness to a room, but unless you have a fireplace insert, most of that warmth is going straight up the chimney. Why? Because open hearths are inefficient. Their poor heating capabilities mean they use more fuel, burn incompletely, and create more pollution. Fireplace inserts were specifically designed to be more efficient and less polluting.

What is an Insert?
A fireplace insert is like a freestanding wood stove that has been modified to fit in the firebox of an existing fireplace.

Today's inserts come in a range of models, sizes, and efficiencies. Made of cast iron or steel, they have self-cleaning insulated glass doors that allow a full view of the fire, while making the insert more efficient than an open combustion system. They're available in a variety of colors, finishes and designs, from modern to traditional, so they can match the decor of your house.

Look for an EPA certified insert so you know you're getting a safe, efficient one that is nearly double the industry standard of just a few years ago.

Note: If your fireplace is factory built (or "zero-clearance"), you must use an insert specifically designed and tested for your unit. To check the brand and model of your factory-built fireplace, look for a label on the sidewall of the firebox.

How does it Work?
Unlike open fireplaces with an efficiency rating of only 5-10%, a well-built and properly installed fireplace insert can be up to 65% efficient. This increase is due to its closed-door combustion system that slows the fire down and increases its temperature. A hotter, slower fire means combustion is more complete, giving more heat with less fuel and fewer emissions.

Inserts can be vented naturally through a working chimney or directly vented to the outside, depending on the fuel choice. If you're using a chimney, municipal installation codes now require you install a properly sized stainless-steel liner from the insert flue collar to the top of the chimney for better performance and safety. Although some models are vent-free, the Environmental Protection Agency does not recommend them because of possible indoor pollution.

Fuel for inserts includes wood, pellets, gas, or coal. If you're using wood or pellets, you can get EPA approved material. Buy only good quality, dry, seasoned firewood or fuel briquettes. Never burn treated wood, particleboard, plywood, or other wood composites which contain glue and bonding agents that produce toxic gases when burned. Do not use logs made from wax and sawdust in your wood stove or fireplace insert – they are made for open hearth fireplaces.

Depending on what type of fuel they use, inserts may have optional fans to distribute heat into the room, as well as thermostatic or remote controls to help regulate the fire. Gas models are available that offer ducting and heat circulation systems that make it possible to circulate the heat through a substantial portion of your house.

Today's fireplace inserts keep the heat where it belongs: in your home.

Resources:

"More Efficient, Cleaner Burning Fireplaces." US Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/woodstoves/fireplaces.html

"Wood Burning Efficiency and Safety." US Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/woodstoves/efficiently.html

   

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