As electric fireplace specialists, we find ourselves doing a lot of myth-busting when it comes to gas vs. electric fireplaces. One of the most common misconceptions about electric fireplaces is the cost to run them. Because electricity is more expensive than natural gas for most of our customers, the assumption is that it’s cheaper to run a gas fireplace than an electric fireplace. The truth is that an electric fireplace will cost less to run than a gas fireplace, for many people.
The key to understanding the cost to run a gas or electric fireplace is to consider how they operate.
With a gas fireplace, when the flames are on, heat is being produced, whether you need heat or not. In order to produce an attractive flame, gas must be consumed. More attractive or larger flames may need more gas to achieve the desired appearance. Also, the most efficient gas flame is blue in colour, like a pilot light or the base of the flame on your gas stove. In order to produce the yellow flame that we want to see, the gas must be made to burn a little less efficiently.
With an electric fireplace, the flames are separate from the heater. The flame effect is created with LED lights, which consume very little electricity. Only with the heater turned on does an electric fireplace consume any noticeable amount of power. Electric fireplaces with built-in thermostats will cycle the heat on and off, thus conserving power when the heat isn’t needed. Since more and more homeowners are buying a fireplace for ambiance, rather than heat, they are able to have flames without using a lot of electricity, because they are not running the heaters on their electric fireplaces.
The separation of flames from heaters also allows homeowners to use their electric fireplaces year-round. Anyone with a gas fireplace can attest that they are not able to run the fireplace once the warmer weather arrives. In fact, even in cold weather, gas fireplaces often make a room too warm, and we have to turn off the fireplace completely.
If you are purchasing a fireplace as a primary source of heat, and you will be running the heater all the time, then you may find that it’s cheaper to run a gas fireplace rather than electric. However, if your HVAC system and furnace are handling the heating in your home, and the fireplace is used mostly for ambiance, you will find that it is cheaper to run an electric fireplace, and you can use it more often than a gas fireplace.
If you want to check the cost of running an electric fireplace in your area, Napoleon has a simple Electric Cost Calculator. You will need to know the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity, from your electrical bill. Plug that into the calculator, along with the answers to a few simple questions about how you plan to use the fireplace, and it will tell you how it will cost to run an electric fireplace.
Is it cheaper to run a gas fireplace than an electric fireplace? For most homeowners, the answer is No!
Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors specializes in electric fireplaces and custom designs. Their Toronto-area showroom features over 50 electric fireplaces set into finished displays, for side by side comparison. They also carry all of the wallcoverings to complete a fireplace project, including stone & brick veneers, wood planks, and metal, glass, and leather panels. Their experts are NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialists who can advise clients on design and technical considerations for their fireplace projects.