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Why a Wood-Burning Fireplace Insert Is More Efficient than a Traditional Fireplace

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If you have an older masonry fireplace, you are most likely familiar with its downsides. As much as 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 fireplace can give you the comfort of a wood fire experience, it 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.” At Magic Sweep, we sell and install wood-burning 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 fireplace insert is more efficient than a traditional open fireplace.

Wood Burning Fireplace Insert - Chesapeake VA

Why are traditional fireplaces such poor heating appliances?

According to the DOE, 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 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.

What exactly is a wood-burning fireplace insert?

Basically a wood-burning stove, the insert has been designed to fit into the open masonry fireplace and use the existing chimney. However, it is very important that your insert is professionally installed for it to 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 Magic Sweep will also install a new stainless steel flue liner to fit the insert exactly.

How are wood-burning fireplace inserts more efficient and cleaner burning than traditional masonry fireplaces?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has certified many wood-burning fireplace inserts as low emission heating appliances. Designed to provide the traditional wood-burning fire experience, these fireplace inserts are also designed to heat much more efficiently and effectively. 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 fireplace or through ducts leading to other rooms in your house. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry estimates that installing an EPA-certified 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 wood-burning fireplace inserts? Contact Magic Sweep to ask our expert staff anything you would like to know about this efficient way to heat your home with a wood fire.