Do Fireplaces Make Your House Colder? (Solved!)

Sitting by a fireplace does keep you warm and toasty but you’d be intrigued to know that some fireplaces do the exact opposite of heating a home.

Traditional fireplaces have been found to make the ambient conditions of a house a lot cooler, both in use and disuse, they can vacuum warm air out through their chimneys and cause heat loss at an alarming rate.

If you often warm yourself up with these heating devices, this piece of information might be quite hard to take in.

So, we’ve provided a clear and detailed explanation of why fireplaces make your house colder and what you can do to tackle their inefficiency.

Fireplaces Make Your House Colder

Do Fireplaces Make Your House Warmer?

How well a fireplace heats a home depends on its type, where it is located, and the venting system in place. If these criteria are up to par then your fireplace should do a splendid job at warming your home.

There are many types of fireplaces out there, but only a few can do a satisfactory job at warming up an entire house, they are as follows.

Before we proceed, it is worthy of note that choosing a fireplace isn’t a decision you make based on your personal preferences alone.

Factors like your regional climate, the age of your home, and how it’s constructed should be the main basis of your decision-making.

Determining how much heat your home really needs would also help you choose the right fireplace. With that said, let’s take a look at the best fireplaces for warming a house.

  • Electrical Fireplaces

Fireplaces of this type have an efficiency rate of 99%. It doesn’t have a chimney so the warmth it generates cannot be easily lost.

It takes just about the same amount of electricity to power a conventional space heater to power an electric fireplace.

Electrical fireplaces are super safe to use and uncomplicated to install. They come in different shapes and designs and can last up to 20 years.

  • Pellet Fireplace Inserts

Getting a pellet fireplace insert is a great way to turn a drafty warmth-sucking fireplace into a functional heat source that is fuel-efficient.

These inserts burn wood pellets as fuel, this makes them inexpensive to operate and environmentally safe to use.

Pellet fireplace inserts come in different sizes and can have different amounts of BTU. Choosing the right appliance depends on the size of your home and how cold your region is.

Here’s a simple guide to help you make the right choice.

Square-footage of homeBTU Required
1,000 sq. ft30,000-60,000
1,500 sq. ft45,000-90,000
2,000 sq. ft60,000-120,000
2,500 sq. ft75,000-150,000
  • Direct-Vent Gas Fireplaces

This type of fireplace is quite popular amongst home buyers, it helps maintain the air quality inside a home and contributes little to outdoor pollution.

Direct-vent gas fireplaces produce a considerable amount of heat, 70% of which can spread all through a home and provide adequate warmth.

If you decide to get this type of fireplace, ensure it has an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating, direct-vent gas fireplaces aren’t so costly and they’re quite easy to install.

You can even convert an existing masonry fireplace into a direct-vent gas fireplace, all you have to do is install their inserts.

  • EPA Certified Wood Fireplaces

Wood fireplaces certified by the Environmental Protection Agency are equally as effective as the previous options at warming a home.

These heating devices have proper and improved venting systems that enable over 50% of the heat they produce to remain in a living area.

When choosing an EPA Certified Wood Fireplace, go for one with variable air control, this feature would enable you to control the amount of heat emitted by your fireplace.

Why Do Fireplaces Make Your House Colder?

As mentioned earlier, not all fireplaces make a house colder, the ones that do either have a traditional venting system or possess a faulty damper. Here’s how these constraints make your fireplace inefficient.

No fireplace is as capable of sucking the warmth out of a home as a traditional fireplace or a wood-burning fireplace.

The venting system in this type of fireplace is designed to provide some form of warmth to a home, however, for the reasons given below, a considerable amount of warm air is lost through the chimney.

When a traditional fireplace is put to use, a damper is opened, what this component does is control the access of cool air in and out of a home.

As logs of wood burn in the firebox, smoke or combustion products pass through a passageway called a flue, this component is the major reason why a fireplace cools instead of heats a home.

The flue has a vacuum-like effect that enables it thoroughly pass out fumes and poisonous gasses, but these aren’t the only things that get sucked up into its channel.

The warm air in your home and the warm air generated in the furnace go up the flue as well, making your home colder with every passing minute.

Even when your fireplace is not in use, it can still make a house colder if the damper is left open.

Your home can get even colder if your thermostat is located in the same room as your fireplace.

Here’s why, once your fireplace warms up the air in your home, your thermostat would automatically turn off the heater, making your surroundings cool a lot faster.

How Efficient Are Fireplaces?

The efficiency of a fireplace depends on the heating needs of the buyer, and the type of fireplace desired. Electrical fireplaces are the most efficient, followed by gas fireplaces, then wood-burning fireplaces.

Below you’ll find a table of various heating devices and their efficiency ratings.

Heating DeviceEfficiency Rating
Electrical Fireplace99%
Pellet Stove85%
Multi-fuel stove80%
Wood-burning stove72%
Gas fireplace60%-70%
Open fireplaceAbout 10%

If you live in a region that can get severely cold at certain points in the year, you should consider getting a heating device with a considerably high-efficiency rating.

Ensure that your installation is centered and sizeable enough to service your living area. The amount of BTU a heating device has would help you assess whether it can efficiently heat your home.

Open fireplaces aren’t completely useless despite their meager efficiency rating, these heating devices are still desired by some home buyers, for their aesthetic appeal.

With the aid of other devices and the implementation of certain steps, the efficiency of an open fireplace can be boosted to a significant degree.

How Do I Keep My House Warm with the Fireplace?

There are several ways by which you can keep your house warm with a fireplace or increase the efficiency of a fireplace. We’ve broken them down into several tips that are relatively easy to implement.

The below points are mostly specific to traditional fireplaces or wood-burning fireplaces.

 Tip #1: Shut the Damper When the Fireplace Is in Disuse

If you remember, earlier in the article the component of a fireplace called a damper was touched on. This device controls the access of air in and out of your fireplace.

Failing to shut a damper after using a fireplace to heat your home will cause cold air from outside to have access into your home.  Only open this device when you want to make use of your fireplace.

Tip #2: Install a Damper at the top of Your Chimney

There are lots of dampers available which are designed to go on top of a chimney, these devices ensure that air from outside can’t get into your home.

Dampers that go on top chimneys have a strong seal and can be compared to a storm door, you can get them from any reputable online store.

Tip #3: Use a Chimney Balloon

Chimney balloons help make a damper more efficient by blocking the access point of cold air into your home.

This device is super easy to fix up a chimney. Ensure you take it out whenever you want to make use of your fireplace, however, if you forget to do this, do not panic, the heat from your fireplace will deflate the barrier.

Tip #4: Install Fireplace Doors Made of Tempered Glass

Another way you can keep your house warm with a traditional fireplace is by installing air-tight tempered glass fireplace doors.

These doors increase the efficiency of your fireplace by keeping the flue from sucking up the warm air in your home, thereby enabling the heat generated in the furnace to warm up your home properly.

Tip #5: Add a Heat Exchanger to Your Fireplace

Installing a heat exchanger to your fireplace is a great way to increase the efficiency of your fireplace.

This heating device collects a significant amount of heat that goes up a chimney and disperses it into your home. It can also draw in cold air from its surrounding environment and turn it into hot air.

Tip #6: Close All Doors When Making Use of a Fireplace

Before you make use of a fireplace, shut all the doors or the door leading to the room where it is located.

After you do this gently crack open a window, this will help decrease the amount of hot air lost to the flue.

Final Thoughts

A fireplace indeed provides some form of aesthetics to a living space, but that shouldn’t be the only yardstick you use to acquire them.

With manufacturers producing more energy-efficient heating devices, there’s quite a lot a fireplace can offer a home.

If you use the buying guide and tips provided in this article, you should be able to get a super-efficient and sizeable fireplace that’d serve your household for years to come.

We hope we’ve been able to help you understand why your home is getting colder despite there being a fireplace and wish you the best of luck in whatever course of action you decide to take to solve this problem.