Fireplaces are perfect for cold winter nights, for "indoors camping" or just for sitting near and watching TV. There's very little like the crackle, fragrance, and heat of an open fire.

That said, while your fireplace may be decorative, enjoyable, even functional, it's also one other thing: a great big hole going to the outdoors.

Many families have glass doors across their fireplaces. That's a good start, but there's something else you should remember to do - keep the chimney closed. It's more than just a good idea; hot air rises, after all, and the money you spend heating your home could literally be going up the chute. And with the holidays fast approaching the last thing any of us wants is Santa's doorway being a money-Grinch. 

Here's what to do. Clean out your chimney early. Burning wood deposits soot and creosote in the chimney flue; these deposits, accumulating over time, can burn and result in a household fire. For safety, a chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually.

Once you do that, keep the flue lever turned so that the chimney is closed when it is not in use. A glass door may help prevent some heated air escaping, but it can't do the job by itself.  Using specially-made chimney balloons can also be used in the flue to prevent air escaping.

Use these tips to help enjoy your fireplace in these colder months, but be safe and efficient while you do. You can find other no-cost and low-cost tips to save money this winter (and keep your fireplace efficient) here on our Energy Saver web site.