Are Gas Fireplaces Expensive to Run?
Curling up beside a roaring fire in the fireplace is a delightful way to spend cold winter nights. However, the hassle of igniting a flame, throwing in logs to keep it burning, and then raking out the ashes can make you think twice before striking a spark in the kindling.
Other types of fireplaces, such as electric-powered ones, exist, but some homeowners find they utterly lack realism. If you share their sentiment, a gas fireplace might just be the perfect option. Unlike electric fireplaces, a gas fireplace produces real flames that look and feel authentic. As such, gas-operated fireplaces are an excellent option for those who want to enjoy the look and feel of a real fire without the hassle and mess of a wood-burning hearth.
Worried about the costs? How about we discuss how much you’ll spend to run a gas fireplace? While we’re at it, we’ll also tackle other essential details about this type of furnace and whether getting one will suit your lifestyle.
What is a Gas Fireplace?
A gas fireplace is a heating solution that mimics a wood-burning fireplace, providing the same warm and cozy ambiance its traditional counterpart brings to your living space. What makes a gas fireplace a better option than a wood-burning one is the convenience it offers. With this fireplace type, there are no logs to burn and no ashes to take out.
Aside from providing warmth, gas furnaces can also be used for decorative purposes to create an inviting ambiance in any area. They are available in various styles, sizes, and designs, making it easy to find the perfect one to match your home’s existing décor. Another advantage of gas fireplaces over traditional furnaces is their ease of installation. Plus, it won’t eat up much floor space. There are even vent-free models on the market.
How Does it Work?
A gas fireplace works by burning either natural gas or propane to create heat. The pilot light or a spark electrode ignites the gas. This produces a realistic-looking flame that goes over and around ceramic gas logs, giving it a look similar to a wood-burning stove. Air drawn over the flames provides heat to the room, which can be adjusted to the desired temperature through a thermostat.
Reflective glass panels in gas furnaces create a realistic effect by reflecting the flames and light from the burner. This produces the illusion of a larger and more vibrant flame and enhances the appearance of the glowing embers and the logs, thus producing a natural-looking fire.
Because this type of fireplace uses propane or natural gas, it needs proper venting for safety. Venting is necessary because the combustion process produces harmful byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, that can build up inside the house and cause poisoning if they’re not expelled out of the living space. Also, the combustion process requires a steady oxygen supply to support the flames, which likewise requires proper ventilation.
Do you feel that a fireplace will enhance the look of your home? You might be wondering if the price of getting a new gas fireplace is worth the cost. The good news is that gas fireplaces are reasonably priced. However, the actual amount you’ll spend depends on several factors. These include the type of fireplace, the fuel source, and the installation method.
The price of a gas fireplace unit varies. The model’s size, style, and features are all factored into the total upfront cost of the appliance. Expect to spend around $2,300 to $8,000, depending on what kind of gas fireplace you want.
For example, a built-in gas fireplace costs anywhere from $500 to $2,000. More advanced models with additional features like remote control, LED lighting, and more sophisticated venting systems can cost upwards of $5,000.
Meanwhile, gas fireplace inserts can range from around $1,000 to $5,000. However, some high-end models with advanced features like adjustable flames and decorative inserts can have a sticker price of $10,000 or more.
Depending on the product and retailer, the installation expenses may not be included in the unit cost, so check with the vendor to understand what comes with the sticker price.
Like the unit cost, the gas fireplace installation costs go up and down based on various factors, such as the type of gas fireplace, the complexity of the installation, and where you intend to locate the unit. Moreover, the expenses associated with installing a gas fireplace have different components, all of which you pay for. These include the price of materials, labor, and permit fees.
How much a gas fireplace costs depends on whether it’s a vent-free or vented gas fireplace. Moreover, the costs to install a fireplace unit tend to be higher when remodeling than on a new installation.
Gas fireplaces burn propane or natural gas to create realistic-looking flames. The process produces gasses that must be released to the outside environment to prevent them from building up inside your home. Constructing a chimney or vent expels the combustion gasses to the outside to avoid a buildup.
Depending on its shape, size, and features, installing a vented fireplace costs around $1,000 to $10,000, excluding the price of the venting pipe. Add around $700 to $5,000 to the gas fireplace installation costs for labor.
Unlike vented gas fireplaces, vent-free ones don’t have a chimney or venting system. A vent-free gas fireplace draws in air from the room, heats it, and releases it back into the living space. This means the exhaust also circulates through the room because there’s no vent for it to escape through.
The absence of a venting pipe reduces this type of gas fireplace cost by almost one-half. On average, a vent-free gas fireplace costs between $1,500 to $4,600 to install, including labor. The lower expenses associated with this fireplace type make it the most cost-effective option for those with tight budgets. However, they’re quite controversial due to some safety risks and aren’t permitted in all areas.
Check your local regulations to determine if you can install a vent-free gas fireplace.
The low prices of natural gas and propane make gas fireplaces more cost-effective to run than electric-powered fireplaces. The running cost of a gas fireplace is 3 times lower than its electric counterpart.
That said, it’s essential to understand that how many greenbacks it takes to run a gas fireplace varies due to different factors. These include the room size that needs heating, the hours of usage per day, the appliance’s energy efficiency, the fuel used, and the like. You’ll usually find the gas consumption of your fireplace in the manual or on the unit itself.
To determine how much a gas fireplace costs per day, week, and month, we must first establish its running cost per hour when the appliance is set to its maximum heating output.
Finding the average cost of using gas fireplaces per hour:
- Gas fireplace that uses natural gas as a fuel source
Multiply the British Thermal Units (BTU) output of the fireplace by the cost per therm your energy provider charges. So if your gas-powered fireplace is 50,000 BTUs and your gas provider charges $0.60, the equation goes like this:
50,000 X 0.60 ÷ 100,000 = 0.30
This means that the cost to run a fireplace that uses natural gas is $0.30 per hour.
- Gas fireplace that uses propane as a fuel source
Multiply the BTU output of the fireplace by the price of propane per gallon ($1.20) then divide the figure by the BTU equivalent. Here’s the equation.
50,000 X 1.20 ÷ 100,000 = 0.60
This means it takes $0.60 per hour to run a gas fireplace powered by propane.
Now that we know how much gas fireplaces cost to operate per hour, we can calculate their running cost per day. Of course, the amount depends on how many hours you keep the unit operating.
- Gas fireplaces that run on natural gas: They cost $1.20 to operate for 4 hours, $2.40 for 8 hours, $3.60 for 12 hours, and $7.20 for 24 hours.
- Gas fireplaces that use propane: These fireplaces cost $2.40 to run for 4 hours, $4.80 for 8 hours, $7.20 for 12 hours, and $14.40 for 24 hours.
To determine the monthly running costs of gas fireplaces, you’ll simply need to multiply the daily cost by the number of days you use your gas fireplace. Of course, you’ll also have to consider the heating output of the appliance and the other factors affecting the cost of running the unit.
Types of Gas Fireplaces
Their convenience, ease of use, and energy efficiency make gas-powered hearths popular for many homeowners. Are you planning to install one in your home? Here are the different options you can consider.
This type of fireplace consists of a set of artificial logs that are made to look like real wood logs. The logs are placed over a burner system that runs on natural gas or propane, creating a natural-looking flame pattern. These gas logs are typically made of ceramic, refractory cement, or other heat-resistant materials and are designed with realistic textures and colors.
There are two types of gas log sets: vented and ventless. Vented gas logs require a chimney or flue to vent the combustion gasses outside, while ventless gas log sets are designed to burn more cleanly and do not require a venting system.
Don’t worry, you won’t run out of options, as both vented gas logs and their ventless equivalents come in a range of sizes and styles to fit different fireplaces and preferences. Some even include features like glowing embers, or realistic crackling fire sounds to enhance the overall fireplace experience.
A gas insert is designed to fit into an existing fireplace, converting it from a wood-burning furnace to a highly efficient gas-powered one. It’s an excellent option if your home already has an open hearth, chimney, and flue. You’ll only need to drill holes for the electrical and gas lines.
Gas fireplace inserts warm the room air by radiating heat from its firebox and circulating it over your living space. Unlike wood-burning models that can lose up to 90% of their heat up the chimney, inserts are highly-efficient as they radiate their heat directly into the room. Moreover, they have sealed glass fronts that prevent heat from escaping.
Like gas inserts, built-ins don’t require an existing fireplace but only need electrical and gas lines to operate. They come in two types. The vented model with fixed glass panels cycles the air and releases the exhaust through a wall opening. Meanwhile, the ventless type, which has either a metal screen or glass panel, expels the exhaust into the room.
Advantages of Gas Furnaces
Gone are the days when you had to put up with the inconveniences that come with using a wood-burning fireplace if you want to add warmth and ambiance to your living space. Now, several fireplace options exist, and your choice will depend on which one has the most advantages to offer.
Let’s see what makes gas furnaces an attractive choice for many homeowners.
You won’t have to remove ashes or debris with a gas hearth. That’s because it doesn’t burn wood, which produces ashes. As such, this fireplace type needs minimal upkeep.
Cleaning the fireplace is as simple as vacuuming or wiping down the logs and glass doors, and the fuel itself is easy to replace. Moreover, with a gas fireplace, there is no need to worry about constantly purchasing wood, chopping it, and hauling it into the house.
With a gas-powered furnace, no sparks will come shooting out of the fireplace, which can start a fire like a wood-burning furnace. It also doesn’t require matches or lighters to start the fire, reducing the risk of accidental burns or fires caused by children playing with matches or lighters.
Moreover, gas furnaces have safety features that automatically shut off the gas supply if there is a problem with the fireplace or it is not being used properly. This reduces the risk of gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Installing a gas-powered fireplace may cost more upfront, but it beats other types when it comes to efficiency. A gas furnace converts almost all the gas it consumes into heat, whereas wood-burning fireplaces lose a significant amount of heat through the chimney. As such, gas fireplaces require less gas to produce the same amount of heat as wood-burning fireplaces, which translates to lower energy bills.
Gas-powered furnaces cost approximately $100 to run for a year. That’s way cheaper than the $375 you’ll need to run a traditional wood-burning fireplace.
Easy to Use
Warming your living space is as easy as pushing a button. You don’t need to gather firewood, kindle a flame and struggle to keep it burning. Instead, you use a remote control or switch to regulate the heat and flame effect in the furnace, making heating your home a simple task.
Disadvantages of Gas Furnaces
While gas furnaces offer many benefits, they also come with some drawbacks you should consider before deciding to install one in your home. Here are some of the main disadvantages of gas-run hearths.
Not Realistic Enough
While gas fireplaces can mimic the appearance of a wood-burning fire, they do not produce the same crackling fire sounds, aromatic scents, or natural flickering flames that many people find appealing in a traditional wood-burning fireplace. As such, they tend to lack the warmth and ambiance of a real wood-burning hearth.
Potential for Gas Leaks
Gas hearths run on natural gas or propane, both of which can be dangerous if there is a gas leak. While gas-powered fireplaces are equipped with safety features, such as oxygen depletion sensors and automatic shut-off valves, it is still important to have them installed and maintained by a professional to ensure they are functioning safely.
Higher Installation Costs
Gas furnaces can be expensive to install. They require a gas line which can be costly and often require professional installation. Additionally, the cost of the gas itself can add up over time.
Limited Heat Output
Although some gas furnaces can mimic the look of a wood-burning fireplace, they don’t provide as much heat. While they can warm your living space to a certain degree, they are primarily decorative and do not offer the same heat output as their wood-burning counterparts.
Factors Affecting the Running Cost of a Gas Fireplace
While gas-powered fireplaces are generally considered a cost-effective heating solution, the cost to run gas fireplace varies depending on several factors. These factors can significantly impact the overall cost of operating a gas fireplace. As such, you’ll need to understand what influences the expenses involved in using this type of fireplace to make the best decision.
Type of gas used in the fireplace
A gas furnace can burn natural gas or propane to produce heat. Which of these fuel sources it uses can affect how much it costs to run the unit. Natural gas prices are usually lower than those for propane, so a gas hearth that runs on this fuel source can save you money. However, if your home is not connected to a natural gas line, the expenses involved in installing one can hike the total cost of your appliance.
Efficiency rating of the gas fireplace
A highly-efficient gas-powered furnace is designed to use less fuel while still producing the same amount of heat. Thus, it can significantly reduce your energy bills. Efficient gas fireplaces can also be equipped with features like thermostats, which can help regulate the temperature in your home and save you money on heating costs.
The more you use your fireplace, the more fuel it will consume, and the higher your energy bills. If you only use your gas furnace occasionally, you can save money on fuel costs. On the other hand, running it 24/7 will definitely drive up your energy expenses.
You’ll need to consider the cost of maintaining the unit in figuring out its running costs. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and inspecting the fireplace, helps ensure it operates efficiently and safely. However, this involves money that can add to the cost to run expenses. On the other hand, neglecting maintenance can lead to higher fuel consumption and repair costs.
Gas vs Electric Furnace
Gas and electric fireplaces can work for homeowners who want to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a fire without the hassle and maintenance of a traditional wood-burning fireplace. However, because each type offers unique benefits and drawbacks, it’s essential to understand their key differences before deciding.
Gas-powered fireplaces are known for their efficiency and convenience. They require minimal to no construction and you turn them on with the flip of a switch. They also offer a realistic flame, providing a cozy and inviting atmosphere. On the downside, gas furnaces can be more expensive to operate and maintain than fireplaces that run on electricity. They also require regular maintenance, including the installation of a carbon monoxide detector.
Electric furnaces are cheaper to operate and maintain than gas fireplaces. They are also safer because they don’t produce any toxic fumes. Moreover, they offer a wide variety of design options, allowing you to customize your fireplace to fit your home’s decor.
Regarding disadvantages, a fireplace that runs on gas tends to create a more realistic-looking flame than its electric equivalent.
Ultimately, your choice will depend on your lifestyle, budget, and preference.
Fireplace to Gas Furnace Conversion Cost
If you’ve had the mess associated with a wood-burning fireplace, converting it to a gas fireplace can be a great way to enjoy the convenience and efficiency of a modern fire. However, you can’t simply install a gas-powered furnace in your existing hearth.
At the minimum, the conversion process involves removing the fireplace damper, running electrical and gas fuel lines, and replacing or converting the firebox. Depending on the type of gas fireplace you want, you may have to factor in the cost of a new venting system.
How much does it cost to turn your old hearth into a gas-run fireplace? The amount depends heavily on the type of gas furnace you intend to install. Expect to pay between $500 and $5,000, with $2,580 being the average. The expenses can vary based on the work required to make your existing fireplace safe to convert into a gas fireplace.
Here’s a general estimate of the cost depending on the type of gas furnace you’ll install.
|Type of Fireplace
|Estimated Cost Range (includes all associated expenses)
|Vented Gas Log Fireplace
|$500 – $2,500
|Ventless Gas Log Fireplace
|$1,000 – $3,000
|Gas Fireplace Insert
|$2,000 – $5,500
Now, let’s dig into the expenses associated with each component of the installation process.
Natural Gas Line Installation
Installing a natural gas line to your fireplace can either be a breeze or one heck of a job, depending on your floor plan. For example, running a gas line to an exterior wall is more straightforward than putting a long gas line on an interior wall.
If you don’t have an existing natural gas line, the expenses can go as high as $1,000. Gas plumbers typically charge between $75 to $100 per hour, while running the gas lines costs about $15 to $25 per linear foot on top of the labor costs.
You’ll want to ensure your chimney is free from creosote and other debris before installing your gas fireplace. The expenses involved vary depending on factors such as location, the size of the chimney, and the amount of buildup in the chimney. On average, the cost of gas fireplace chimney cleaning ranges from $100 to $300.
Professional chimney cleaners typically charge an hourly rate, ranging from $50 to $150 per hour, and the job can take anywhere from one to three hours to complete.
The job’s complexity, the size of your fireplace, and the type of insert or logs you choose will affect the expenses involved with installing your gas furnace. It’s always a good idea to consult with a contractor with fireplace conversion expertise to better understand how much you need to budget for converting your old hearth into a gas furnace.
Is it Cheaper to Run an Electric Fireplace or Heat?
Several factors should be considered in answering this question. These include the electricity rates in your area, the efficiency of your electric furnace, and the cost of other heating options available to you. In general, if you only need to heat a small area, an electric fireplace can be a cost-effective option. However, if you need to heat a larger room or live in an area with high electricity costs, using a central heating system or other heating options may be cheaper in the long run.
Are Electric Fireplaces a Good Idea?
Electric-powered fireplaces are generally more energy-efficient than other types of furnaces. They’re also easy to install, require minimal maintenance, and are safe and versatile. All these reasons make them a good option for those who want the ambiance of a fireplace without the hassle and maintenance of a traditional fireplace.
Can I Leave my Electric Fireplace on All Day?
You can but you might not want to. While fireplaces that run on electric power are generally considered safer than traditional wood-burning fireplaces, they still generate heat and use electricity. While it’s relatively safe to leave them on all 24/7, turning them off is advisable, particularly if you’ll leave the house for extended periods. The fire risk may be negligible, but leaving them on can waste energy and increase your electricity bill significantly.
Is it OK to Sleep with an Electric Fireplace On?
An electric fireplace does not produce an actual flame, which reduces the risk of fires. It’s also one of the safest fireplace types around. So if you happen to fall asleep with your fireplace running, you won’t be in grave danger. However, in the interest of safety, it’s best to turn it off before you go to bed, as some things could go wrong. Without you monitoring the appliance, the situation could escalate into something more hazardous.
How much does it cost to install and run a gas fireplace? Well, it won’t break the bank. Although the amount we’re talking about may vary depending on various factors, gas-powered fireplaces are more cost-effective than traditional wood-burning fireplaces, as they require less maintenance and produce less waste.
Getting one for your home is a good idea due to several reasons. First, a gas fireplace provides a convenient and efficient source of heat that can help reduce your overall heating costs. Second, it is cleaner and more environmentally friendly than wood-burning fireplaces. Finally, it adds aesthetic appeal to your home and can increase its overall value.