At Stylish Fireplaces, we have been talking about the benefits of electric fireplaces for almost 20 years. For most clients, this discussion has centered around how much heat they need, and whether a gas or electric fireplace will best meet their needs. Conversations around energy-efficiency have been driven by misconceptions about electricity costs vs. natural gas costs, and whether or not they will pay more to run an electric fireplace. You can read more about this comparison on our website. The desire to save the planet hasn’t really been the primary motivator to buy an electric fireplace – until now.

We have started to hear from clients who have followed the discussions at COP26 – the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Glasgow from October 31 through November 13. (COP stands for Conference of the Parties, thus COP26.) As they have listened to the urgent speeches from the conference, some clients have become concerned about their personal use of fossil fuels. We believe this group of conscientious consumers will only grow as our governments scramble to meet the commitments they’ve made at COP26, and previous climate change conferences.

COP26 had 4 goals related to climate change: Mitigation, Adaptation, Finance, and Collaboration. (Read more detail on the COP26 website.) World leaders came away with agreements on further actions to be taken at high levels by participating governments. But what can individuals do to help address climate change, and support high-level initiatives? How does your purchase of an electric fireplace fight climate change? To better understand this, we can focus on Mitigation.

COP26 Goal: Mitigation of climate change – secure global net-zero and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

According to the COP26 website, “The world is currently not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The targets announced in Paris would result in warming well above 3 degrees by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. If we continue as we are, temperatures will carry on rising, bringing even more catastrophic flooding, bush fires, extreme weather and destruction of species. We have made progress in recent months to bend the temperature curve closer to 2 degrees; but the science shows that much more must be done to keep 1.5 degrees in reach.  The world needs to halve emissions over the next decade and reach net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century if we are to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.”

Reducing carbon emissions is considered key to limiting the rise in global temperatures. Carbon emissions are created by the burning of fossil fuels, like coal and gas. As governments work to meet their emission reduction targets, they will be pushing regulations and targets down to industries and consumers. We are already seeing such regulations in home building, for example, where building codes throughout North America require greater energy-efficiency standards than ever before. As a result of better building science and better building materials like windows & doors or insulation, our new homes are able to be kept comfortable with much less energy use. We are starting to see natural gas appliances being banned, or reduced, in some jurisdictions. For instance, your new home might be limited to 1 additional natural gas hook-up, and you will have to choose between the gas range, gas BBQ, or gas fireplace.

How can an electric fireplace help to meet this COP26 goal?

An electric fireplace doesn’t burn fossil fuels; it gets its power from electricity. By choosing an electric fireplace instead of a gas fireplace, you are reducing your personal carbon emissions. As long as you live in an area with clean electricity production, like hydro-electric or nuclear, you can rest assured that your choice is reducing carbon emissions. If you live in an area that generates electricity through the burning of coal or natural gas, the reduction of carbon emissions isn’t as clear-cut, but you have at least done your part to tackle climate change by choosing not to add to the burning of fossil fuels with your fireplace.

Your use of an electric fireplace for zone heating can further reduce your carbon footprint, by reducing the use of your gas-powered furnace. Zone heating means that you are warming up only the space you are using, so you can leave the temperature in the rest of the home at a lower level.

Focus on making appliances and equipment more energy-efficient (to reduce strain on electricity grids)

While COP26 focused on accelerating the transition from coal to clean power, they have also suggested that we can all increase our energy efficiency to help in this transition. Since 2009, an initiative known as SEAD (Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment) has been focused on creating more energy-efficient appliances and equipment, to reduce the strain on electricity grids around the world. This in turn reduces the need for countries to turn to carbon sources, like coal, to keep up with electricity demand. These more efficient appliances will gradually make their way into our daily lives. Meanwhile, we can pay more attention to how we use our existing appliances.

How can I improve the energy-efficiency of my electric fireplace?

Unlike a gas fireplace, the flames on an electric fireplace are not created by combustion. Electric fireplace flames are created with LED lights, and consume very little energy. The heater and flames operate independently of each other on an electric fireplace, so you can have flames with or without heat. With the heater turned on, an electric fireplace consumes more energy. The most efficient way to operate an electric fireplace heater is to use the thermostat to regulate the heat output. Just like on your furnace, you can set your preferred temperature on the fireplace, and it will regulate the heater to turn on and off as required, to keep the room comfortable. If you want to be as energy-efficient as possible, avoid electric fireplaces that don’t have a thermostat. If the heater has just high/low controls, the heater will run at 1500 watts (high) or 750 watts (low) until you turn it off. If you walk away and forget about the heater, it will run indefinitely and waste energy. It’s not only bad for the planet, but it will cost you more, as well. Many of our electric fireplaces also have a timer feature, allowing you to turn off the fireplace automatically, in case you do forget about it.

Stylish Fireplaces knows that adding a fireplace to your home can be challenging. With an electric fireplace and their NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialists, it’s easy to create a space you’ll love to share with family and friends. Check out all the options and connect with their experts for help to find the perfect electric fireplace for you. You’ll live stylishly ever after. 

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