As you settle into another Colorado winter, now’s the time to start thinking about ways to keep your home warm and cozy — and as efficiently as possible.
Hopefully you’ve already crossed off some to-do items from our homeowners’ pre-winter checklist, like clearing your gutters, inspecting your roof and getting your chimney cleaned.
A clean chimney is a safe chimney for your home and family. Plus, a clean chimney can help your fires burn more efficiently.
There are other ways to make your fires burn longer and more efficiently, like choosing the right woods, placement, timing, and air flow.
Keep your fireplace going without burning a hole in your wallet — save money with these tips to extend the life of your fires.
Use Dry, Seasoned Wood
Wood that just came off a tree still has moisture in it, which means it won’t burn well — it’s less efficient and more smokey than dry wood.
The easiest way to make sure your wood is dry enough for burning is by seasoning it.
What is seasoning? Just a fancy term for waiting. After being chopped into pieces, your wood should be seasoned in a dry and well-ventilated place for ideally a year (or even longer depending on the wood) before being used in a fire.
Seasoning ensures that your wood is as dry as possible, allowing it to burn hotter and longer.
Start Your Fire Extra Hot
By starting your fire with hot-burning softwoods, you can create a bed of coals to let them more efficiently burn the hardwoods that are the staple of a long-burning fire.
Softer woods like spruce, fir, and pine burn quick and hot. Start your fire with softwood and with your damper open to allow maximum air flow — the oxygen will help get the fire off to an extra hot start.
Add softwoods as needed until they’ve burned down into a bed of coals covering most of the bottom of your fireplace.
Choose Your Hardwood Wisely
What makes a long-burning wood the most efficient? Density. The denser or harder the wood, the longer it’ll burn.
Some of the most efficient hardwoods that produce the most heat per cord include oak, ash, apple, maple, mulberry, and beech.
Looking for the perfect Colorado native woods to heat up your fireplace? Check out our blog on hot-burning Colorado woods »
Let Your Fire Breathe
Other important factors in creating a long-lasting fire are placement and air flow.
Move your softwood coals to the front of the fireplace, and then stack your slower burning hardwood of choice behind the coals, leaving a little space for air flow between the logs.
Placing the wood behind the coals means the wood near the coals will burn first, with the fire slowly moving toward the back of the pile. If you put your hardwood on top of the coals, the entire pile will burn at once (which is less efficient).
Give the hardwood 30 minutes to start burning, then close the damper halfway to allow some oxygen through. This will moderate the speed at which your fire burns, while also keeping it steady and smoke-free.
Clean Your Chimney
Proper air flow is essential to a long-lasting and efficient fire. If your chimney is clogged up with creosote (build-up from burning wood), birds’ nests, or any other obstructions, it could be contributing to a poorly burning fire.
Plus, these obstructions can be a hazard that could result in a chimney fire that could potentially destroy your home.
If you haven’t had your chimney cleaned in a year or two, it’s a good time to get a professional chimney cleaning. Enjoy your fireplace all winter long with the knowledge that your fires are safe and efficient.