Now that it is officially winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it's the time to enjoy your fireplace. If you've ever had a fireplace, you know what an undeniable pleasure they can be. They are picturesque, sound and smell wonderful, and provide warm places to bask on cold winter nights - especially during the holidays!

However, fireplaces have chimneys.  And chimneys can be problematic when it comes to home energy efficiency. 

Here are several fireplace tips to help you save money and energy.

Close the Flue When the Fireplace is Not in Use

It can be easy to forget to close the chimney flue between uses. In the cold months warm air has an easy exit from the home through that opening. The same is true for cold air in the summertime, when you're probably far from thinking about winter nights by the fire.   And do not worry about locking out Santa Claus.  He is an old hand at opening and closing fireplace flues!

Check Your Hearth for Any Cracks and Seal Them

Over time mortar holding bricks together in a fireplace can develop hairline fractures from which air can escape.  Be sure to seal any cracks in the hearth.  

Take Precautions with the Screens

Ensure the glass doors shut tightly when the fireplace is not in use. Again, no need to worry.  Santa knows how to properly open and shut the glass doors for fireplaces.

With these tips you can heat your home - and your toes - and not the outdoors. Visit the Energy Saver site to learn other ways you can save money and energy in the winter.