This was a question I was asked frequently as a kid.
Kids have little concept of hot and cold—let alone what it takes to heat a home. Leaving doors open as they run outside is common. It always has been common, and probably always will be common.
But doors and windows are not the only thing that wastes energy when they are left open.
As an inspector, one of the most common things I find left open on a home is the fireplace damper. When the wind blows past the top of the chimney it creates a negative pressure on the chimney resulting in drawing huge amounts of conditioned air out of the home—especially if windows and doors are left open.
This is incredibly wasteful in both summer and winter when we are expending energy to either heat or cool the home.
I would bet that more than 50% of older style fireplaces that I inspect have their damper open at the time of inspection. Of course modern fireplaces have glass doors that help with this problem. Most likely the best solution is a gas insert that will actually contribute to the heating of the home instead of making your house more like a barn.
Do you know if your fireplace damper is open or closed right now?
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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