A short while ago we discussed whether or not it is time to ban the open fire. You told us that no, it wasn’t time to ban the open fire. So if you can’t beat them, you join them, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.
Here are six tips to help you improve the efficiency and environmental credentials of your open fire:
Buy an open convector firebox – Providing you with the best of both worlds, a convector firebox can double the efficiency of a normal grate or hearth mounted appliance. These fires create a convection current in the room, while also radiating heat from the fireplace.
Burn better fuel – Burning well-seasoned wood can dramatically boost the efficiency of your fireplace. With wet or damp wood, much of the fire’s energy goes into boiling and evaporating the water trapped inside. This means you don’t get to feel the benefit of all that energy. Remember also that the type of wood you burn can change how frequently you need to add logs.
Consider improving the insulation in your house – A well insulated house will mean that you will not need to generate as much heat from your fireplace to warm the room as the heat is kept in the room for longer. For example (and in approximation), if you had a room: 5m x 5m x 2.4m but insulated it poorly, you will need 6 kilowatt (kW) of heat to warm the room. This works out to be about 10 cubic meters of air warmed per kW. This improves with an averagely insulated room of the same size. Only 4kW of energy will be needed to heat the room, working out to be 14m³ warmed by 1kW.
If your room is very well insulated, or is a new build, then you will only need 3kW to heat the whole room, which is 20m³ warmed by 1kW of energy.
Line and insulate your chimney – Still on the subject of insulation, it is recommended that you line and insulate your chimney, which will prevent heat being lost through your chimney and into your walls. If you have an old house with porous bricks, which allow smoke to seep into the rooms the chimney passes through, lining it will prevent this.
Chimney umbrella – If you want improve the environmental footprint of your open fire while saving on energy bills, then it is worth considering a chimney umbrella.
Equivalent to leaving a window open during winter, a chimney can cause a draft that costs you up to £200 extra in heating bills. By deploying the chimney umbrella, you cut off this draft, meaning your house is warmer, meaning when you do come to use your fire (after you’ve removed the chimney umbrella), you don’t have to fire it too hard to warm the room.
Invest in a Firemizer – This flexible, metal grid fits in the base of your fire and it ensures the fuel is burnt more thoroughly. A Firemizer can reduce solid fuel usage by up to 38%, making your fire more efficient. This means you use less fuel and enjoy a more complete combustion. (Requires a grate)
While these tips can improve the efficiency of your open fire, their maximum output is very limited. With a stove you can enjoy up to 80% efficiency and some models can be used to heat your entire house.