Green Your Home With Tech: Temperature

Chimney Balloon

Starting at $43 at Chimney-Balloon.com

Perhaps the most wasteful and inefficient symptom of a wood stove or fireplace is the leaky air and odor that can enter back into your home in the off-season through the chimney. Chimneys with no dampers (or ones that may be warped or damaged from age) may experience drafts when not in use. The easiest way to prevent this is with a chimney balloon.

Very simple in its function, the Chimney Balloon has been used for over 20 years in Europe. However, it has only been sold in the United States for a few years, although its design is brilliant. Made from plastic tri-laminate, it is sturdy enough to stop drafts from getting into your home, but flexible enough to get it into the deepest chimney recesses. We tried ours out in three easy steps:

1. We attached the "air host" over the end of the air valve (the black tubing) and gave it a slight puff to get a little air into the balloon.

2. We stuck the balloon up into the most appropriate place in the chimney to stop drafts. The Chimney Balloon Website will have all the info you need to determine where this is on your chimney and also what size of Balloon you will need. Once the balloon is in place, you can finish inflating it with the hose. Make sure you wear goggles during this step, as all kinds of debris will most likely fall back down into your face and eyes.

3. Without over inflating, we made sure the balloon was firm, but not too tight. The balloon can pop or puncture, so it’s also important that it’s in a clean area of the chimney and away from sharp debris or pipe creases. We turned the valve on the black tube stem to “off” or perpendicular to the stem.

With the balloon in place, there was an immediate stop to the air leaking into my basement from my wood stove chimney. I anticipate this will also keep odors from soot at bay (I have not experienced any since it has been in place). The balloon can easily be deflated for removal, and should I happen to forget it’s there when starting a fire, the balloon will deflate and fall out to allow for proper evacuation of smoke and heat.



The Chimney Balloon is a common-sense approach to a common problem. While it won’t save you more than $50 per year in energy costs if your chimney already has a damper, Chimney Balloon can save you around $200 per year if you do not. It is also a relatively quick way to get a handle on fuel waste. At a retail price of slightly under $50 for most sizes, Chimney Balloon makes stopping a draft in fireplaces (and most older wood stove pipes) an easy and environmentally responsible home solution.

Create a new thread in the Off-Topic / General Discussion forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
5 comments
    Your comment
  • progress lover
    "Enough heat to melt crayons"? WHAT TEMP IN *KNOWN UNITS* PLEASE??? Were these standard SI Crayons?! What colour?
    Does it melt axel grease? What kind? How about the sweet secretions of the honey ant chilling for 17mins in 'the snow' from the sloping roof of a SE facing shed at 3pm GMT?
    Love the way buying more heaters saves energy. Ever heard of clothes? Damned nudists. Always wasting energy on more heaters and electric personal shavers. Wear clothes. Cut energy bills. Save gas going out to buy heaters. Hide that embarassing and unsightly pant-moustache. Nice warm clothes. The solution to all your problems. They keep you warm outside too. Or do you just put lots of heaters out there?!
    1
  • Tomsguiderachel
    progress lover"Enough heat to melt crayons"? WHAT TEMP IN *KNOWN UNITS* PLEASE??? Were these standard SI Crayons?! What colour?Does it melt axel grease? What kind? How about the sweet secretions of the honey ant chilling for 17mins in 'the snow' from the sloping roof of a SE facing shed at 3pm GMT?Love the way buying more heaters saves energy. Ever heard of clothes? Damned nudists. Always wasting energy on more heaters and electric personal shavers. Wear clothes. Cut energy bills. Save gas going out to buy heaters. Hide that embarassing and unsightly pant-moustache. Nice warm clothes. The solution to all your problems. They keep you warm outside too. Or do you just put lots of heaters out there?!


    Hey Progress-Lover,
    This article was written from the perspective of a parent with several children in a very large rural home. The heaters discussed in this article can save money and energy over central heating. Children's bodies may not regulate temperature as well as yours, so piling on extra layers of clothing is not always the solution. As for the crayon comment--in a household with children, I found this to be an amusing insight into the heat output of that particular product. We will do our best to get you actual temps, but for now, know that Crayolas melt at between 128-147 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Rachel Rosmarin, Editor of Tom's Guide
    0
  • Anonymous
    I cannot praise this product enough. Three winters ago, our heat went out at our summer home while I was out of town. Needless to say, pipes froze and significant damage was done. We had over 20 pipe breaks. We installed the Ecobee and it has given us such peace of mind. I am able to check the service anytime I want. We have had a few times when the heat did shut down and I received an email immediately and was able to react before any damage was done. Well worth every penny.
    0
  • Anonymous
    I purchased the Ecobee Smart Thermostat last summer for a vacation home I have 3K miles from my residence so we could control the temperature in the house remotely.

    First, I have to say the folks at Ecobee are really nice and very helpful, but their service is limited by the products they sell.

    ECOBEE IS THE GATEKEEPER

    Controlling remotely over the internet, the smart thermostat device is a bit slow and clunky as it is runs through Ecobee’s servers, then to my house, and there is NOT an option for a direct connection using my Dynamic DNS service. This is one of the the biggest disappointments with this device that I didn’t discover until after purchased. Case in point, Ecobee had a significant outage last month and I could not control my device during the critical cold weather and snow storms that we were experiencing. I was really afraid of my pipes bursting in the house due to the cold temps. My other concern with having to depend on my connection running through Ecobee's servers is that at any point they can start charging a toll for access to my thermostat. Following their mass e-mail apology after the outage month, I inquired about a direct connection option and was advised a direct connection was not their business model. ** BE FOREWARNED OF THIS FACT BEFORE CONSIDERING PURCHASE OF THIS DEVICE **

    LCD THERMOSTAT SCREEN ISSUES

    In addition, the wall thermostat’s touch screen device is not ready for prime time. The touch functions on the LCD screen jump all over the place when trying to pin down the exact point where to push on the screen. Ecobee replaced the first device in an effort to resolve the issue, but the 2nd device yielded no better results.

    Another issue is that the thermostat’s LCD screen touch points for each function are too small for the average adult to do by finger, thus we have to use a pencil eraser to make device changes via the touch screen.

    Given my experience and knowledge, at this point I would not purchase an Ecobee device, but rather opt for a smart thermostat system that integrates into a whole-home smart system that had an option for direct connection remote control via the internet.
    0