As electric fireplace experts, we hear this question A LOT. We hear it first-hand from homeowners, and we also hear it from designers who are trying to convince their clients to go electric. It’s understandable that no one wants to blindly install a fireplace without understanding the costs. When it comes to electric fireplaces, the cost of operation is one of the most misunderstood factors in the buying decision.

Part of the hesitancy around the cost of operating a fireplace with electricity instead of gas may stem from how we’ve been programmed to embrace natural gas in our homes. Gas furnaces are very efficient at providing home heating, and so the assumption is that a gas fireplace must also be efficient. By contrast, electric heating tends to be associated with old baseboard heaters that are more costly when it comes to home heating. Maybe your parents were constantly reminding you to turn off the lights to keep the electricity bills down. The reality is that both gas and electricity rates go up and down over time. At the same time, innovations like LED’s have transformed lighting, and the associated cost of electricity to power our homes and businesses.

Do electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity? What you really want to know is: ‘How much will it cost me to run an electric fireplace?’ Luckily, Napoleon has taken the time to create an Electric Cost Calculator, which simplifies the cost calculation for everyone. All you need is a recent electricity bill, and some details about how you want to use your fireplace. Here’s an example, using my own bill and usage patterns:

  • My fireplace is hardwired for 220 volts.
  • Most of my usage is in the evening, at Off-Peak rates, for 4 hours in the evening.
  • My off-peak rate is $0.082 per kWH
  • I use the fireplace with flames-only for 6 months of the year, and with heat + flames for the other 6 months.
  • My total cost of electricity is $169 per year.

Do electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity? What if you don’t need heat? More and more of our customers tell us that they want a fireplace for ambiance only; they don’t need heat at all. If you plug that into Napoleon’s Electric Cost Calculator, your 4 hours per day will cost $3.35 for the entire year, using the same parameters as noted above. Clearly, it’s the heater in an electric fireplace that uses all the electricity. Fortunately, the flames on an electric fireplace may be operated without the heater, or it may cycle the heater on and off, without affecting flame quality or appearance. This greatly reduces the amount of electricity that is needed to operate the fireplace.

There’s a common misperception that a gas fireplace will cost less to run than an electric fireplace. After all, gas appliances are extremely efficient – right? While a gas furnace is very efficient at heating a home, a gas fireplace is less so. If you look at the pilot light on your furnace, you see a blue flame, the hottest and most efficient flame. But when you look at a gas fireplace, you want to see big yellow flames, not blue flames. In order to create a pleasing flame, a gas fireplace must burn less efficiently than a furnace. The flames may be modulated to some extent, as the heater is adjusted up or down, but as long as there are flames, gas is being burned and heat is being produced. There is no way to have flames without heat, so gas is constantly being consumed.

Do electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity? What if I want a really big fireplace? Fortunately, the cost of operating the LED lights needed for flames is so low that the size of an electric fireplace doesn’t really affect the cost of operation. When it comes to heat, electric fireplace heaters are the same from one size to the next within a given model, so the cost of operation doesn’t change as the fireplace gets larger. With a gas fireplace, the bigger the fireplace, the bigger the burner, and the more gas is being used. So, if you want a really large fireplace, it’s more cost-effective to go electric, where the costs of operation don’t vary, vs. a gas fireplace where the cost of operation will increase with size.

Do electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity? No, they don’t! Is it more expensive to run an electric fireplace than a gas fireplace? No, it’s not!

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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