Do electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity and increase your electric bill?
How much energy do they use, how much do they cost to run, and when can they be a cost-effective alternative to other heating systems?
I am an electrical engineer and a certified energy manager, and I wrote this short guide in order to help you answer these questions and know when to use electric fireplaces, and when they might not be the right choice for heating.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Do Electric Fireplaces Use a Lot of Electricity?
Electric fire places can use a lot of electricity if you run them on the highest setting, and for many hours every day, which could make them one of the biggest energy users at home.
In one hour, an average electric fireplace could use as much electricity as any of the big appliances like AC units, electric ovens, stoves, or electric water heaters.
However, the main difference is that you may run the electric fireplace for many hours every day, unlike the oven or the electric stove, which makes the fireplace consume a bigger amount of energy during the day or the month.
But this does not mean that electric fireplaces are bad or should not be used, as they might be, even with the high electricity consumption, an energy and even a money saver when used the right way.
Which is what I will explain now.
Are Electric Fireplaces Energy Efficient?
Electric fireplaces are efficient in transforming electricity into energy as they are basically made to work like space heaters of either of the two types:
- Like convection space heaters that heat the air using a heating element that is heated by running electricity through it, and then blowing the hot air to the room using an internal fan inside the fireplace, which makes it a good option for a big, enclosed room as you can preserve the heat even after turning them on.
- Or like infrared space heaters that use infrared radiation to directly heat the objects and people in front of them without heating the air, which makes them a better solution for open spaces or room where maintaining the heated air might be difficult.
And some electric fire places come hybrid using both technologies of convection and IR heating.
But in general, electric fireplaces are energy efficient compared to many other heating methods and systems.
How Efficient Is an Electric Fireplace?
The efficiency of an electric fireplace could reach 90-99% percent like it is with electric space heaters, depending on the technology and the manufacturer.
The important question is that if they are cost effective or not, which depends on every situation differently.
As I explained earlier, electric fireplaces are good when used for heating one big room instead of running the whole central heating system, or as a supplemental heating source for one room for few hours if the central heating was not enough for that room.
However, it might not be cost-effective to install many electric fireplaces and run them to heat multiple rooms at the same time.
Do Electric Fireplaces Waste or Save Energy?
Electric fireplaces could save energy when used the right way, for example, as an alternative to the full central heating system when you want to heat only one big room to certain level, and not worry about other rooms.
Sometimes even when running the central heating system in order to maintain a minimum temperature all over the place, you may still need one room to be heated to a higher degree for few hours a day, you can use the electric fireplace as a supplemental heat source for the room.
Or, if you want instant heat for short periods of time (intermittent heating), then the electric fireplace could do that job and save you energy and money instead of running the central heating that uses a big boiler and needs to heat a big amount of water before giving heat to the network of radiators or underfloor heating pipes.
Or, to heat a space in an open room, heating the air with traditional fireplaces may not be effective as the warm air would escape the room to other spaces.
In that case, you may use the infrared type electric fireplace as it gives direct and instant heat through infrared light to the people in front of it, without having to heat the air, exactly like IR space heaters that are highly efficient in such situations.
Electric fireplaces are in essence decorated space heaters that could use a lot of electricity when used to heat every room at the same time, but can save energy and money when used for specific purposes.
This is the case for almost all heating systems, each one could be the best in certain situation, and could be not so good in some other situations.
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How Much Electricity Does an Electric Fireplace Use?
An average electric fireplace uses around 1,500 watts of electricity in order to run, which translates into 1.5 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy on the meter for every hour of its operation.
Assuming that you run the electric fireplace for five hours a day, everyday of the month, then the total electricity consumption of an electric fireplace would be 7.5 kWh’s a day, and 225 kWh’s per month.
1.5 X 5 = 7.5, and 7.5 X 30 = 225.
Some fireplaces might come with multiple heating settings of 750-1,500 watts that allow you to use less electricity in case you don’t need to run them on the high setting, and some could consume more as they come with the rating of 1,000-2,000 watts.
Are Electric Fireplaces Expensive to Run?
Electric fireplaces could be either cheap or expensive to run based on different factors, and mainly:
- The power rating of the fireplace.
- How many hours you keep them running every day of the month.
- The electricity rates in your area, as different energy companies charge different prices.
Do Electric Fireplaces Increase or Lower Electric Bill?
Electric fireplaces can increase your electric bill when used as an alternative to central heating that uses gas or diesel to heat the water.
But when used as an alternative to an AC with a heating mode (heat pump), or to portable space heater, then the electric fireplace might increase or lower your electric bill depending on the difference in power rating between the fireplace and the previously used appliance, and depends on how long you run each of them in order to get the comfort level you seek.
For example, if you where used to use 1-ton air conditioner on the heating mode, then a 1,000-watt fireplace would use almost the same amount electricity, and the effect on electric bill would be almost the same.
But running a 1,500W as an alternative to the 1-ton AC unit, for the same number of hours and timing during the month might increase your bill.
How Much Does an Electric Fireplace Cost to Run?
On average, an electric fireplace costs around 21 cents per hour to run, based on the average rating of 1,500 watts, and on the average electricity price of 14 cents per kilowatt-hour.
1.5 kWh X 14 cents/kWh = 21 cents per hour of operation.
In some locations, like in California for example, where the electricity rate is 22 cents per kWh, the cost would be 1.5 X 22 = 33 cents per hour of operation.
While in places like Utah where the price is around 10.5 cents/kWh, the cost to run it would be around 1.5 X 10.5 = 15.75 cents per hour of operation.
These are the costs to run the electric fireplace for an hour, based on the mentioned electricity rates and on the average power rating of 1,500-watt.
The total cost at the end of the month depends on the number of hours you run the electric fireplace every day of the month.
How Much Does it Cost to Run an Electric Fireplace per Month?
The cost to run the electric fireplace per month is around $31.5, based on the average power rating of 1,500-watt, the average electricity price of 14 cents/kWh, and the average time of running it for 5 hours a day, every day of the month.
Total energy consumption per month: 1.5 kWh/hour X 5 hours/day X 30 days/month = 225 kWh/month.
Total cost per month: 225 kWh X $0.14/kWh = $31.5.
And for a place like California where the electricity rate is around 22 cents/kWh, then the total monthly cost of running the 1,500W electric fireplace for five hours a day would be 225 X 0.22 = $49.5.
And for Utah, the cost would be 225 X 10.5 = $23.6 per month.
So, an electric fireplace can increase your electric bill for an average of $31.5 when run for five hours a day, every day of the month, as an alternative, as as a supplement to a central heating system that runs on gas or diesel.
Conclusion – Are Electric Fireplaces Worth it?
The answer depends on each case differently.
Electric fireplaces are energy efficient, and could be cost effective where you use them to heat a certain room instead of turning on the central heating for the whole place, for intermittent heating for a certain room, or heating a certain area of an open space.
Another advantage they have over the traditional fireplaces that burn wood or gas is the fact that you don’t lose heat through the chimney, and you don’t need to clean them.
In these cases, electric fire places can help you lower your heating bills in the winter.
However, they might not be the best choice if you want to heat multiple rooms at the same time.
However, if you were alone, and instead of turning on a big energy consumer like the central heating, an electric fireplace, or a heat pump, then heated throws and electric blankets don’t use a lot of electricity and could be cheaper to run.
I hope that my article was helpful in answering your questions on whether electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity, their cost-effectiveness, and how much they cost to run.
If you still need any help or have other questions on this topic, please, let me know in the comments section below, and I will do my best to help you out 🙂