Green your Hearth
BURN ECO-FRIENDLY LOGS: Choose fire logs made from recycled materials like sawdust and held together with plant-derived wax, like Java-Log, Duraflame, and Pine Mountain; they burn cleaner and hotter than regular wood, says green home expert Debra Lynn Dadd. And look for packaging that states “no chemical binders or additives.”
LOWER YOUR THERMOSTAT: Set your thermostat between 50º and 55ºF while using a fireplace. It will keep your heating system from working overtime trying to replace warm air that’s lost through the chimney.
INSTALL A FIREBACK: Heavy metal sheets ($100-$400; at fireplace accessory stores) that sit behind the fire and reflect heat into the home, firebacks help preserve the masonry of the fireplace by keeping the wall temperature down, says Andrew Ingram, president of Woodland Direct (woodlanddirect.com).
REPLACE YOUR DAMPER: A damper lets you regulate airflow out of the chimney, but it can warp easily, allowing warm air to escape when the fireplace is not in use. Replace it, Ingram suggests, with an external locktop damper ($150-$550) that attaches to the top of the chimney and can be closed or opened from indoors using a metal chain.
BUY AN INSERT: It’s expensive ($1,000 and up), but a fireplace insert (a steel chamber with glass doors that fits into the existing hearth) can make your fireplace as efficient as a wood-burning stove.