what's a chimney balloonUPDATE 2/28/2018 There is nothing better than relaxing in front of the fireplace on a cold Maryland night. They’re comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. However, homeowners pay the price for that comfort. Fireplaces are not energy efficient. So, a chimney balloon is one of the best ways to reduce energy loss.

Fireplaces are not energy efficient
Many homeowners rarely use their chimney. When not in use, it removes warm air that you paid for from your home.

The average open-masonry fireplace has efficiencies ranging up to 15%. That means you waste 85-percent of the energy!

You’ll waste even more energy with a damper that’s left open. The warm air in your home will escape through the fireplace. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter. It’ll drive up your entire home’s energy usage.

Closing the damper makes a small difference. It’s not airtight, though, since it’s metal. Plus, it can warp which increases air leakage.

So, what can you do to reduce the energy loss? Get a chimney balloon. It’s an easy way to make your home more comfortable, less drafty and more energy efficient.

Chimney balloon

A chimney balloon does what a damper doesn’t do, by completely sealing off the fireplace and preventing any warm air from escaping your home.

With a balloon, almost no air gets past it. Plus, it’s easy to install and remove which makes it a great choice because the benefits are noticeable quickly.

In addition to keeping your house warmer, chimney balloons serve some other pretty nice functions as well:

  • Stop drafts
  • Lower your heating bill
  • Keep critters out

Think of the chimney balloon-like weather stripping and other winterization steps you take to keep your home more comfortable in the winter.

Stop winter drafts

Chimneys are drafty. Perhaps you’ve felt cold air rushing into your house when you’ve sat by a wood-burning fireplace that’s not in use. Cold air comes in through the chimney, and the warm air from your home escapes.

Since the balloon stops the flow of cold air into your home and prevents warm air from escaping, your heating bill automatically lowers. You’ve essentially closed the window that you had open all winter.

The savings are noticeable. Energy Vanguard, a company working to improve home performance, found these relatively inexpensive chimney balloons make a huge difference. One of its employees put a chimney balloon in his house and cut the air leakage by 20-percent. Not bad for something that costs around 50-dollars.

Finally, we know chimneys are popular with raccoons, birds, and other animals. A chimney balloon prevents these unwanted guests.

How to use a chimney balloon

Before you buy the balloon, measure your chimney. You can leave a little space on each side, up to 6 inches.

Once you install it, keep the balloon tag in the fireplace, so you know it’s up there. That way you won’t start a fire with the balloon in place.