Welcome to this week’s edition of “Weatherize this,” a series of posts on easy, breezy, and inexpensive tools (or non-tools … last week’s post was on sweaters) designed to keep your home cozy and energy-efficient during the winter without requiring any kind of major home improvement overhaul.

Today, I’m featuring a specific product that you’ll want to use with care during the holidays if you have kids around the house; installing one on Christmas Eve may produce tears and confusion from any household resident under the age of 10.

The product in question is the Chimney Balloon, a reusable and durable draft-stopper — a “pillow” of sorts — that’s meant to be inserted and then fully inflated inside of a chimney. The Chimney Balloon comes in various sizes (be sure to do some measuring before investing) and fits snugly above or beneath the fireplace’s damper or louvre, the metal flapper device that you open and close each time you start and finish a fire. Dampers are designed to prevent heat loss but with age their ability to stop a fireplace’s “open window effect” is weakened. Some fireplaces don’t even have dampers and repairing old/damaged ones can be a pricey endeavor. 

Not only is the Chimney Balloon effective in the winter when trying to prevent cold air from blasting down your chimney, it also helps keep cool air from escaping when using air conditioning in the summer. It can also keep pests, odors, toxins, debris, and other unsavories from traveling down your chimney and into your home. Prices for a standard Chimney Balloon range from $43 to $87; custom-sized, made-to-order Chimney Balloons are also available. 

Watch the below video to see the Chimney Balloon in action and head on over to the Chimney Balloon Q&A blog to learn more about the product. And check out the Chimney Draftstopper Plug Balloon, a similar inflatable product from Battic that promises 30 percent savings on heat and air conditioning costs when used properly. 

And one more no-brainer tip if your fireplace has a door: keep it closed! 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Weatherize this: Chimney Balloons
Struggling with an ineffective or nonexistent fireplace damper this winter? Invest in a draft-busting inflatable Chimney Balloon.