As Austin’s nights begin to dip into the low 40s and high 30s, many Austinites across the city will be looking for ways to keep warm without blowing out their heating bills. Having a fire inside is a great way to heat your house and revel in a little bit is wintertime nostalgia, but done improperly, it can raise your heating bills and put your home at risk for fire. Fireplaces are some of the biggest energy wasters. But thanks to the Austin real estate experts at RealtyAustin.com, here are a few simple tricks to making sure your fires are safe and as warm as can be.
Get the Right Wood
It’s not hard to find the right wood in here in town. More often than not you can pick up some pine or oak at your local grocer. You can also use downed branches as fuel. Just be sure that your wood is dense and dry before you try to start your fire. Finding hardwood logs are a must. Because they have a higher density, they will burn hotter, longer, and put out less smoke. Pecan trees and live oaks make for great firewood. Softwood and wet wood puts out more smoke and steam as you burn them – they also put out less heat. You’ll want to stay away from cedar wood, cypress, and any Southern yellow pines.
Prime the Flue
Before you start your fire, you’ll want to prime your flue. When the air is cold so is your chimney, especially if it is outside. After you open your damper, the cold air from flue will sink into your house and will prevent smoke from travelling up and out, filling the house with smoke. By simply lighting a roll of newspaper or letting your gas fireplace burn on a low setting for a minute or two until the air reverses, you’ll make sure that your house stays smoke free.
After you’ve got a considerable fire and nice bed of coals and ash, you’ll want to make sure that you’re managing the flue correctly depending on the size of the fire. When your fire starts, you’ll want the flue all the way open to make sure you’re getting the best airflow, but as the fire burns, gradually close the damper until it’s just enough to draw smoke off the top of the fire. By managing the flue, you’ll ensure that the majority of your fire’s heat while allowing smoke and ash to float up the chimney.