Cheers (clink) to the crisp weather, the falling leaves and the roaring fireplace!
Whether it’s a glass of wine, a warm mug of hot cocoa or game night, nothing says warm and comfy like a night in by the fire. However, should you leave your central heat on while that fireplace is going?
Money Saver or Waster?
If your fireplace is not maintained correctly, it can raise energy bills and increase costs throughout the year. According to the US Department of Energy, wood and gas fireplaces are the most inefficient heat sources for the home. The primary reason for the energy loss is the fireplace’s damper; either it is left open or not properly sealed. The US Department of Energy also estimates that this circumstance alone can increase your energy usage by up to 30%, or around $200 a year.
Over 75% of the heat produced by wood goes up the chimney, and you never feel the effects of it. It is estimated that between 80-90% of heat is lost. This means that the money you spend on firewood is basically wasted, as it goes up in smoke.
Use Your Fireplace and Central Heat Together?
When it comes down to it, although a fireplace can cost you in the long run, does it actually save you money if you use it in tandem with your CHA HVAC system?
All homes are different. There is no true answer to this with varying sources of heating, ductwork, thermostat, gas, and various electric prices. However, it is widely believed that a furnace is the better choice for heat, as it is more efficient with its ability to distribute heat evenly throughout the home.
If you are going to enjoy an afternoon sitting by the cracking wood, there are some reasons you should use your fireplace and central heat together. While a furnace may cost you more to install and operate than a fireplace, it can heat your home more thoroughly, keeping overall costs down while keeping you and your family warmer during the chilly months.
So Yes! If you are using your fireplace, you should also keep your central heat running. Here are three (3) reasons why:
- Wasting Energy: If you shut off your HVAC unit to use your fireplace, your heater will eventually need to be turned back on when you go to bed or leave the house. By the time you turn your heater back on, the rooms without the fireplace have probably cooled down quite a bit. Your furnace will have to work much harder and longer to warm those rooms back up. Not only will this use a lot of energy, but it will also strain your HVAC system.
- Output of Heat: Your fireplace should not be used as the primary heat source for your home. Using a fireplace to heat a home is less efficient than using a furnace. Furnaces have a better heat output than fireplaces as they have less heat loss and can circulate air better. Also, fireplaces usually only increase a house’s temperature by 15-25 ˚F, which is not enough for colder climates. A fireplace heats the immediate area, but because it does not use ductwork to distribute the heat throughout the house, it lacks proper heat distribution.
- Safety First: As we all know, it is unsafe to leave a fireplace unattended. A fireplace can be an excellent source of heat for a short time, but it is not a good idea to shut off the heater and leave the fire burning overnight, unattended, or to have a huge fire trying to heat your entire home. Also, the air that is produced from a fireplace can have some safety risks. Wood-burning fireplaces are less safe when compared to furnaces. Even though smoke primarily escapes through the chimney, some ash, smoke, and carbon dioxide can still be breathed in.
We know there is nothing quite like a fireplace on a cold day; however, you should use your fireplace and central heat together to prevent energy loss, ensure even heating throughout your home, and ensure your family’s safety.
To keep your heating system running efficiently when using your fireplace, turn the temperature down by a few degrees. This can help you reduce energy use, and it will not take the heater so long to get back up to normal temperatures.