Do Electric Fireplaces Save on Heating Bills? [Benefits & Drawbacks]
Nothing can beat a fireplace when it comes to providing warmth during a cold winter day. The crackling wood, the smell of the smoke, and the glow of the flames all create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. However, using a traditional wood-burning fireplace comes with some disadvantages. You’ll need a constant supply of wood for fuel, for one. Also, its energy efficiency leaves a lot to be desired. That’s why more people are looking at electric fireplaces as alternatives to traditional fireplaces.
Electric fireplaces provide the same warmth and ambiance as a traditional fireplace but without the need for burning fuel. This makes them an attractive option for those who want to heat their homes without the hassles and higher running costs of a wood-burning fireplace.
Are you interested in installing an electric fireplace? Their energy source makes electric fireplaces energy-efficient, but you may still wonder how much using one will add to your monthly electricity bill. Let’s explore how much it takes to run an electric fireplace and if operating one will fit your budget.
What is an Electric Fireplace?
An electric fireplace is an excellent way to heat your home and experience what it’s like to have a real fire in your fireplace. That’s because of the realistic flame effects and warmth the appliance provides. The great thing about this electrical equipment is that it lets you enjoy the coziness and ambiance a fireplace brings without the downsides a traditional fireplace brings.
An electric fireplace typically consists of a metal or stone surround, a heat exchanger, and a light source to imitate the look of a real fireplace. It’s powered by electricity, and without the need to vent smoke, it does not require a chimney or flue for ventilation.
This appliance comes in different forms, including freestanding, wall-mounted, and built-in units. Some models feature a blower that circulates warm air throughout the room or living space.
How Does it Work?
An electric fireplace may look like a traditional fireplace, but it provides more convenience and flexibility than its wood-burning counterpart. It also works differently from a conventional fireplace.
Electric fireplaces get the job of heating your home done by drawing in cool air and heating it with an electric heating element. This component is typically located near the bottom of the unit and is usually made of a metal alloy such as copper or aluminum. A fan gently forces the warmed air into the room or living space, making it comfortable and cozy.
Some electric fireplaces use infrared technology to directly heat objects in the room instead of fan-forced warming. As a result, using infrared brings the benefit of heating larger areas as well as faster heating. Electric-powered fireplaces can also be equipped with a thermostat. Pairing the electric fireplace with a thermostat will let you set the desired temperature, which the fireplace will automatically maintain.
With the high price of electricity, we understand why one of the questions you’ll likely have is how much will an electric fireplace adds to your monthly electricity bills. The power consumption of most electric fireplaces is almost the same as an average space heater. But what makes electric fireplaces great heating options is their energy efficiency. They’re 100% efficient because they don’t waste electricity, using all of their energy input to generate heat.
How much it takes to run an electric fireplace depends on several factors, which we’ll explore later. On average, most electric fireplaces use about 1,500 watts. But that’s if you use them at full power, meaning that you activate the heat feature and set it at the maximum level.
If your electric fireplace serves as a decoration with the flames active but generates no heat, the unit’s consumption drops to about 300 watts. This would hardly impact your electric bill. Setting your electric fireplace so the heater’s power is on and off will slightly increase the cost to run the unit to approximately 750 watts.
How long you run an electric fireplace and at what setting will influence its power consumption and, hence, its daily and monthly cost. Other factors that come into play when calculating the electric fireplace running costs include the electricity prices in your area.
Let’s look deeper at how much it costs to run an electric fireplace.
Daily and Monthly
As mentioned, how long you run an electric fireplace will affect its power consumption. Some people use their electric fireplace for only 1 hour a day, while others use it for 8 hours.
Another factor to consider when calculating the appliance’s running costs is the per kilowatt-hour rate in the area. Some states have higher electricity prices making electric fireplaces expensive to use in those areas.
Using the average price of $0.1319 per kWh and the typical wattage of electric fireplaces (1500 watts), you’ll spend about $4.75 a day if you run your fireplace for 24 hours.
Meanwhile, running an electric fireplace for a month will add about $142.45 to your power expenses. However, that monthly electric fireplace cost holds only if you use the appliance 24 hours a day for a month. Most people don’t run their electric fireplace 24/7 but instead, use it only a few hours each day.
Here’s an estimate of how much an electric fireplace costs daily and monthly based on how many hours a day it operates.
|Daily Usage||Cost to Run per Day||Cost to Run per Month|
|1 hour per day||$0.20||$5.94|
|2 hours per day||$0.40||$11.87|
|3 hours per day||$0.59||$17.81|
|4 hours per day||$0.79||$23.74|
|6 hours per day||$1.19||$35.61|
|8 hours per day||$1.58||$47.48|
|12 hours per day||$2.37||$71.23|
|24 hours per day||$4.75||$142.45|
Advantages of Electrical Furnaces
When deciding on the type of fireplace to install, you’ll have to look at what each kind offers. In terms of advantages, electric fireplaces provide the following.
One of the easiest ways to transition to green living is by selecting an energy-efficient product. Electric fireplaces don’t burn wood that produces air pollution. You simply plug them into an outlet and turn them on.
The appliance’s lights create a realistic flame effect, giving your home a cozy ambiance without producing carbon emissions that go into the atmosphere. As such, you get the look and feel of a real fire without toxic fumes. That’s one effective way of reducing your carbon footprint.
Electric fireplaces utilize LED technology to create realistic flames. The lights are more efficient than old-style incandescent bulbs and have an average lifespan of 75,000 hours. This means running an electric fireplace won’t set you back so many dollars.
Also, electric fireplaces turn 100% of their energy into heat output, making them the most cost-effective solution compared to other types of fireplaces. An electric fireplace heater can supplement space heaters to create a warm and cozy living space.
Some fireplaces cost thousands of dollars to install. For example, a conventional wood-burning type costs about $2,900 to purchase and put in place. The price can rise depending on whether your home has a chimney because wood-burning fireplaces must vent the smoke. Meanwhile, gas fireplaces require a gas line.
Electric fireplaces are often plug-and-play affairs. You plug them into an electric socket, and they’re good to go. You don’t have to mess around with lines, flues, and other complicated structures. The cost to run and maintain this type of fireplace is also lower than other kinds, as you don’t have to budget for chimney cleaning or firewood purchase.
How much does repairing or rebuilding a house damaged by fire cost? So much more than the price of an electric fireplace, that’s for sure. One of the risks wood-burning fireplaces present is the potential for fires, especially if you have small kids who might be tempted to play with the flames.
Speaking of kids, electric fireplaces don’t have real fires and no direct flames that kids can reach into. Also, even if the heater is on, the heating element and fan are behind a metal grille that children can’t readily access.
Easy to maintain
You won’t have to knock out a wall or do extensive renovations to install a fireplace that runs on electricity. In most cases, you only need to set it against a wall near a power outlet, and that’s it. Unlike a gas fireplace, an electric fireplace requires no chimney or gas line. The installation mostly depends on the style of fireplace you choose. Some can be hung on a wall, while others can be used as part of the entertainment center.
The ease of installing this type of fireplace makes it a great option for those who live in a small home or apartment but still want a fireplace to supplement the home’s heating system.
Disadvantages of Electrical Furnaces
We won’t say that electric furnaces are the best choice for everyone. Here’s why some homeowners consider other types.
Are the crackling and popping sounds produced by the burning logs part of the allure of a fireplace for you? Is the smell coming from real wood as it’s consumed by flames crucial to the ambiance you’re trying to create? If you said yes, you might find an electric fireplace too artificial for your taste.
Although the appearance of modern electric furnaces has improved considerably in recent years, they still can’t match the look and feel of a real fireplace. Because lights and mirrors just replicate the flames, the fire and burning logs can look fake, which turns off some people.
Must be located near an electric outlet
Because this type of fireplace needs electricity to operate, you’ll need to install them close to a power socket or do some rewiring so the unit can be plugged in. Extension cords aren’t recommended, as the lines can overheat and increase fire risk.
Won’t increase the value of your home
Adding a real fireplace with a chimney to your home can increase its value by about 6 to 8%. That’s because fireplaces are a home’s third most wanted feature, according to a national realtor association. As such, you get value for it.
In contrast, an electric fireplace isn’t a permanent installation. When you move, you take it out and bring it with you. Thus, it won’t increase the resale price of your home.
Not as warm as a real fireplace
In some instances, other types of fireplaces can heat your whole house. The same isn’t true for one that runs on electricity. Running an electric fireplace won’t provide enough heat for a large space like an entire home. That’s because the heat output of some electric fireplaces only gets to around 5,000 BTUs. That’s only as much heat as space heaters provide.
Factors Affecting the Running Cost of Electric Fireplaces
One of the advantages of using electric-powered fireplaces is their lower running costs compared to other types. Other kinds of fireplaces use a lot of energy, whether in the form of gas or firewood. Like different fireplace variants, the total cost of owning and operating one varies. Let’s look at the main factors that affect the expenses associated with an electric fireplace.
Electric Fireplace Wattage
Electric fireplaces typically come as either 750-watt or 1,500-watt models. To a certain extent, the hourly cost of operating the unit will depend on its wattage. In general, the higher the wattage, the more expensive the running costs.
For example, a reasonable estimate for operating a 1,500-watt electric fireplace is $0.20 per hour if the electricity rate is $0.132 per kWh. Meanwhile, it will cost about $0.066 if you use a 750-watt electric fireplace for an hour.
You can find the wattage information in the unit’s specification sheet.
The fireplace’s heater is the component that consumes the most electricity. Now, you know that the per kWh rate varies from state to state. So how much the electric fireplace will add to your power bill depends on where you live.
The cost per hour to run an electric fireplace in California is more expensive, at $0.26 per hour than in, say, Idaho ($0.12), where electric prices are lower.
Electric vs Gas Furnace
Deciding whether to install a gas or electric furnace can be challenging. Since the two kinds of fireplaces have particular benefits and drawbacks, picking the one that works for you involves research. Weighing the pros and cons will also help you make the best choice.
Electric fireplaces are often easier to set up as they don’t require venting or gas lines. They’re also tops in energy efficiency because they use 100% of the energy they consume to produce heat. However, they create less warmth than gas fireplaces. You also can’t use them during a power outage because they need electricity.
Meanwhile, gas fireplaces have a higher heat output. As such, they can keep a bigger area warm than their electric counterparts. They also produce an actual flame, which some homeowners find more aesthetically appealing.
On the downside, they cost more to install, particularly if you don’t have a gas line in your home. They also come with the risk of potential gas leaks. Moreover, the open flame can be a fire hazard.
Ultimately, both electric and gas fireplaces can be great options. The choice will simply depend on your needs, budget, lifestyle, and of course, personal preference.
Energy Saving Tips for Electric Furnaces
As energy-efficient as they may be, electric furnaces still cost money. The longer their operating time and the higher their wattage, the more money you’ll need to shell out for using them. The good news is that even though electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity, they are ways to reduce their consumption. Try these following tips if you want to save money on your power expenses.
Lower the Temperature
Running an electric fireplace at maximum power consumes a lot of electricity. In fact, operating one at a lower temperature setting can cut its power usage in half. Most fireplaces of this type have multiple heat settings, so switching to a lower setting when the temperature is mild can reduce the unit’s running costs.
Use a Thermostat
Does your electric-powered fireplace have a thermostat? If it does, you can set the desired temperature in your room or living space. The fireplace will then turn on only when the temperature drops below your setting. In this way, the fireplace doesn’t run all the time, only when it’s needed, thus reducing its power consumption.
Use Fans/Add Circulation
Running a ceiling fan in a clockwise direction helps to move the air around the room, aiding the fireplace in heating the space more efficiently. This can reduce the amount of electricity needed to operate the fireplace, as it does not have to work as hard to heat the room. Moreover, the added air movement lessens the time it takes for the fireplace to reach its desired temperature, as the warm air is circulated more quickly.
Turn off/Dim Lights
Modern fireplaces use LED lights to create the flame effect. Although these lights are energy-efficient and consume less electricity than incandescent types, you’ll still have to pay for those kWhs. Turning down the brightness of the lights will reduce their power usage without significantly affecting the ambiance you want to create. In fact, the dimmed lights can even enhance the room’s coziness.
Gaps and drafts let hot air seep out of your living space, making your fireplace work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Sealing drafts and providing proper insulation to your home can save you approximately 15% on your heating and cooling costs because of its increased energy efficiency.
Aside from preventing hot air from escaping, investing in window and door draft excluder products can help the electric fireplace maintain a more even temperature throughout the room, as the heat will not leak out as quickly.
Upgrade to a More Efficient Model
Modern electric fireplaces are designed to provide greater energy efficiency by using advanced heating technology and improved insulation. They can use up to 25% less electricity than older models. Moreover, some have more features, such as adjustable flame intensity, thermostats, and timers, that give you better control of the appliance’s performance. Fine-tuning the settings can help reduce the unit’s power consumption.
This is by far the most effective way of saving on the running cost of an electric fireplace. The effort it takes to turn off the unit whenever you leave the room for extended periods will reap several centavos. These can add up over time to a significant amount.
You can also reduce usage by turning on the fireplace only when the temperature is too cold or for ambiance during special occasions.
The amount on your energy bill doesn’t only depend on how much electricity you consume but also on the per kWh rate of your current electric company. Energy providers are always on the lookout for ways to attract new customers. Shop around for those that offer lower rates or provide incentives that can save you money.
Is it Okay to Run a Gas Fireplace All Day?
It’s not okay to run a gas fireplace all day. This type of fireplace is recommended for occasional use only, as continuously operating it can increase the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is odorless, so a build-up in your living space can go unnoticed. If you want to leave a gas fireplace on all the time, make doubly sure that it’s fully vented and has a sealed glass front.
Is it Worth it to Run a Gas Fireplace?
There’s no clear-cut answer to this question, as the cost-effectivity of running a gas fireplace depends on several factors. These include current gas prices, the efficiency of the equipment, and the climate in the area. An efficient gas-powered fireplace can be an economical heat source in states where gas is inexpensive. It can also provide a cozy atmosphere and can be used to supplement other heating sources in cold climates.
Is it Expensive to Run a Gas Fireplace All Night?
Running a gas fireplace all night can be an expensive affair depending on gas prices and the fireplace’s size. The burn rate varies from one fireplace to another, but on average, gas fireplaces consume about one gallon of propane per hour for every 91,500 BTU. For a 100,000 BTU fireplace, you’ll use up about 12 gallons of gas if you keep your gas fireplace running all night.
Do Gas Fireplaces Really Heat a Room?
Yes, gas fireplaces can heat a room. Very efficiently, in fact, and sometimes, even more than wood-burning fireplaces. They use propane or natural gas to produce a flame, and once the fire has been burning for some time, it can heat a room rather quickly.
The answer on how much it cost to run electric fireplace depends on several factors, such as the per kWh rate in your area, the wattage of your unit, and its operating time. Depending on the type of electric fireplace, running costs can range from a few cents to several dollars per hour. In general, however, electricity-powered fireplaces are very cost-effective and highly efficient. As such, running them for only a few hours a day won’t impact your electricity bill.
Also, because an electric fireplace can be a great way to add warmth and ambiance to any living space, installing one will be well worth the money you spend.