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How to Use a Fireplace or Wood Stove to Heat Your House

Wood burning fireplace in Dubuque, IA Not many homeowners want to be dependent on the price of energy to keep their homes warm in the winter. And if you’re home happens to have a fireplace or wood stove or you’re thinking about installing one, you’re probably wondering if you can use it to heat your entire house like a central air and heating system.

Once upon a time, fireplaces and wood stoves were the primary sources of heat. But it was also a period when families spent most of their time occupying the same living space. Today, families are more spread out. You’ve got mom and dad relaxing in the living room while the kids are watching television and playing video games upstairs in their bedrooms, and you want to keep everyone warm and comfy.


Fireplaces and wood stoves do an excellent job at heating the space they are in, but can you use them to heat your entire house? You bet, but with a little help.


Wood-burning fireplaces are notoriously inefficient for home heating, but with a few simple tweaks, you can increase the heat and spread it around your home. The first step is to increase the heat. You can do this by installing two devices – a fireback and glass fireplace doors. The fireback is an iron plate that’s affixed to the rear of the firebox. When it gets hot, it will radiate the heat outwards into the living space. The glass doors will amplify that radiant heat even further.


The next step is to move the heated air around the house. Fortunately, heat naturally rises to the top. So, if you have a central heating system, you can turn on the fan setting. That will disperse the heated air through the vents spreading it around the house. Another option is to use your ceiling fans in reverse. It will pull the warm air upwards and move it through the home.

Fireplace Insert

If you’re not satisfied with the heat from your fireplace, consider installing a fireplace insert. Fireplace inserts are like heating stoves and fit directly inside an existing masonry fireplace. And EPA-certified units provide up to 70% to 80% heating efficiency. Make sure to add the blower motor option to your insert if you want to spread the heat around your house.  You can use the ceiling fans or your central heating fan to move the warm air through the existing floor or ceiling air vents to the other rooms.

Wood Stove

Beautifully Installed Wood Stove in Dubuque, IAYou can also use a wood stove to heat your entire home, too. Ideally, the heating stove should be installed in the basement or on the lowest level of your home. A wood stove fan is then installed on top of the stove to force the warm air through an air vent to spread the heat around your home.

Always consult with your chimney sweep before making any modifications to your home heating system. Your chimney sweep will ensure your whole home heating solution complies with local building codes and regulations.


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