Insulate Your Fireplace: Save Home Heating
During the winter months and holiday season, the fireplace screens get pulled aside, and we toss in those chunks of sequestered carbon (aka wood) to bring that holiday crackling into our homes.
Ever think about what’s going on in your fireplace the rest of the year?
Grab a flashlight and carefully look up the chimney at the flue. Does it close tightly along all four edges? Green Blizzard can almost guarantee that a gap exists somewhere along at least one of the edges. That’s a year-round breathing hole for your house. It’s essentially an open window with a lot of dust and dirt gathered around the opening. It also means that every day a steady breeze blows in and out of your home, depending on the temperature differential.
In these colder months, the fossil-fuel generated warmth in your home is sneaking up and out the chimney. When the barometric pressure changes, it forces air back into your house, carrying with it the soot, ash and mold that’s living in the chimney. Not an ideal situation.
Many homes have chimney flues built of heavy, heat-resistant metal that have become corroded from years of use. They no longer shut tightly because they were designed during a time when heating efficiency was not a concern.
To reduce home heat loss and lower your energy bills – as well as your carbon footprint — you can take a number of actions to keep air from coming in through your chimney. Here are two ideas to consider, one home-made, one store-bought.
We actually had a loose flue fitting situation here at the offices of Green Blizzard, so for about $5 and one hour of effort, we came up with a simple solution to chip away at our carbon footprint. GreenBlizzard bought a section of 2″ foam board insulation at the hardware store and cut it to fit snuggly under the flue – it was so snug that it squeaked as we pushed it into position. Then we fashioned a board to hold it in place between uses – we even painted it black to help it blend in. Any thickness of foam is better than what you now have. The most common types of materials used in making foam board include polystyrene, polyisocyanurate and polyurethane.
A more turn-key option is an inflatable ballon device, designed to fit snuggly into the roof of the fireplace. Pretty nifty. Here are a few options that we liked.
Check out the U.S. Government’s Energy Savers website for more insights. Check out this YouTube video about an inflatable option. This is essentially a mini-mattress float designed to fit snuggly into the roof of the fireplace.
Green Blizzard found this helpful instructional video.
Repairing fireplace air leaks is not the most exciting weatherproofing topic, but it’s one of the most overlooked and most frequently recommended by home energy auditors. For a few dollars of foam board or cardboard insulation, you can prevent tons of heat from escaping up through your chimney and prevent tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. Just remember to remove any materials before lighting your next fire.
Be sure to visit the Green Blizzard Bookstore. Here are a few Green Blizzard articles that you might enjoy reading: eBook Carbon Footprint Break-Even, Why Recycle Paper?, The Coolest Kid at the Lunch Table, Plastic Grocery Bags – Kick The Habit, Man’s Best Friend Goes Green, or Planting Trees to Offset your Carbon Footprint