Wood-burning fireplaces are great for aesthetics and ambiance, but they typically lose more heat than they generate. Fireplaces also waste large amounts of the heat generated by your central heating system by drawing in cold outdoor air through any leakage points in the house. Traditional wood fireplaces are, therefore, best used when the central heating system is not needed. Sealed-combustion gas fireplaces can be over 90% efficient and are thus a far better choice as a useful heat source.
Wood-burning fireplaces should have well-fitted glass doors and a source of outside air for the firebox.
Woodstoves and fireplaces should not be operated for extended periods with just a smoldering fire because those produce substantial amounts of carbon monoxide, particulates and creosote.
Well-seasoned wood burns cleaner and also optimizes the amount of useful heat energy gained. Be sure to close the damper tightly when the fireplace/woodstove is not in use. A specially designed chimney balloon or rigid insulation can help reduce heat loss up the chimney when it's not in use. To prevent chimney fires and blockage, keep chimney flues clear of creosote and be sure that the chimney is in sound condition. Have a professional chimney technician inspect and clean all chimneys at least once a year.