It’s cold, snowy, icy or rainy and raw outside. You’ve had a long day. You’re tired. You’re chilled. It’s right there, in front of the fireplace. Nothing beats a crackling fire and the comfort and warmth that envelopes you. That is, if you’re standing right by it! Leave the room, and you can feel the temperature drop! Most people use fireplaces as a backup or for aesthetics, meaning your primary heating source (e.g. gas boiler, oil furnace, etc.) is working double time to try to heat the house consistently.

As much as 80% to 90% of the heat created by a fireplace just flies right up the chimney. This not only creates a frosty environment, it puts a damper (pun intended) on your budget. How can you make your fireplace more efficient?

5 Ways to Make Your Fireplace More Efficient

1. Use Seasoned Firewood

Fresh wood, or “green” wood, has a lot of moisture in it. When you burn it, it creates a smokey fire that burns quickly and generates less heat. Seasoned firewood is left to dry for at least six months. This allows a lot of the moisture to evaporate. Your fire will burn both slower and cleaner, helping your fireplace and chimney work as efficiently as possible.

2. Adjust the Dampers

Your damper does a few different jobs. When you are not using your fireplace, it keeps debris, moisture, and cold air from entering your home through the chimney. As your fire burns, you can adjust it (closing it a bit) to feed the fire the oxygen it needs to burn optimally – and to keep warmed air from escaping. When the fire burns out completely, close the damper to keep heat in the firebox. This will provide residual heat for hours.

3. Use a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are a huge help during long, hot, humid summers – but they are equally beneficial in the winter. Choose a model that has a switch that reverses the direction in which the blades turn. You want it to go clockwise in colder months because it creates an updraft and distributes heat throughout your living space. Doing this can save you as much as 15% on your heating costs!

Just make sure you don’t run your fan in a counterclockwise direction. This will have the opposite effect – and no one wants AC during an Indiana January!

4. Use Fireplace Doors

Glass fireplace doors can help boost efficiency. With an open fireplace or one that has a mesh screen, warm air is sucked back into the fireplace and out through the chimney. Installing inexpensive doors and closing them when the fire is burning prevents this and helps radiate heat throughout the area. When you close the doors, don’t forget to open the damper so it can vent exhaust.

Many people prefer not to have anything between them and their crackling fire from an aesthetic standpoint. But if you want to waste less and enjoy more heat, consider this option.

5. Install a Fireplace Insert

As mentioned, typical fireplace designs mean that we sacrifice 80% to 90% of the heat we generate. An EPA-certified fireplace insert is a self-contained heating unit. It fits in the fireplace so you get the look you want. You also get the feel you want as inserts can help you flip the script and retain 80% to 90% of generated heat. At the same time, you’ll use about ⅓ less fuel and produce far less smoke, soot, and creosote. Win-win-win!


We get it: a fireplace epitomizes warmth and comfort. But it’s about the least efficient method of heating your home out there. If you want the look and feel, try these methods to make your fireplace more efficient. The Brick + Ember team is happy to help. Connect with us – and stay cozy this winter.