The Cost To Run An Electric Fireplace

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It’s that time of year when you start to feel a chill in the air and you need to warm up at home. But, you hesitate. Questions run through your mind; “Can I afford to run the electric fireplace?” “What does it even cost to run?” “Should I just use the central furnace?”

Well, I am here to help, and in this post, I’ll answer all these questions and more so that you have a good idea of what it costs to run an electric fireplace. Then, you can make informed decisions on how best to stay warm at home. 

How Much Electricity Does An Electric Fireplace Use?

A typical electric fireplace will use 1.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity when it is used on full power. Every electric fireplace will have a watt value that tells you how much power it uses, but most electric fireplaces are 1500 watts, which corresponds to 1.5kWh of electricity usage.

You can find the wattage of your particular electric fireplace by looking at the manual, the box, or a label on the side. You’re looking for a number followed by the letter W.

electric fireplace wattage label
wattage label on the side of an electric fireplace

Appliances list their power consumption in watts, but when you buy electricity it will be charged by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). This is how many kilowatts (1000 watts) of electricity you use in an hour.

How to calculate kWh based on wattage

To find the kWh cost of running your electric fireplace per hour, you take the wattage and then divide it by 1000.

So, for a typical electric fireplace, this would be 1500 divided by 1000 to give the 1.5kWh.

Most electric fireplaces use 1.5kWh of electricity for every hour that you run it on full power.

To determine the total electricity used to run your heater per day, you will need to multiply this by the time you have the fireplace turned on.

For example, 3 hours run time will use 4.5kWh. Or, if it’s running for just 30 minutes it will use 0.75kWh of electricity. 

How Settings Affect Electricity Usage

The electricity usage of your fireplace will also depend upon the setting that’s used. Most electric fireplaces will have a range of settings from high to low and each will use a different amount of electricity.

If your typical electric fireplace (max power of 1500 watts) was running at half power (750 watts) for an hour, it would use just 0.75kWh of electricity.

The very lowest setting could just be for decorative purposes with lights or flames but with no heat output. This setting will use far less electricity than the highest setting and will, of course, be much cheaper to run. 

electric fireplace with no heat, flame only
an electric fireplace with flame effect but no heat

How Much Does It Cost To Run An Electric Fireplace?

A typical electric fireplace will cost $0.21 per hour to run. This is based upon a 1500 watt fireplace running on the average US electricity rate of $0.14 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

The cost of running an electric fireplace is directly proportional to the power output of the fireplace, measured in watts. As stated above, an electric fireplace will have a maximum wattage setting but it is also likely to have a range of settings or a dial to reduce the heat output. 

As you reduce the heat setting, you reduce the number of watts used to run the fireplace and the number of kWh you are charged for. This reduces the cost of running the electric fireplace. 

The other important factor that affects the cost of running an electric fireplace is the cost of electricity. In the USA, the average cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour is 14 cents, but there is a huge variation in this cost depending on where you live from just 10 cents in Washington up to 34 cents per kWh in Hawaii. 

The only way to know for sure what you are paying is to take a look at your bill and check the rate you are being charged by your provider. But you can get an idea of how prices vary by region by taking a look at this page.

Once you know what you pay for your electricity and how many kWh your fireplace uses, it is easy to work out the cost of running it.

To work out how much an appliance costs per hour, you can use this formula:

Kilowatts X Cost of Energy


1.5 x $0.14 = $0.21 per hour

Electric Fireplace Cost Calculator

I’ve also created a calculator so that you can work out exactly how much it costs to run your electric fireplace based on the wattage, how much time you turn it on for, and how much you pay for electricity.

Is It Expensive To Run An Electric Fireplace?

Running an electric fireplace will increase your bills by around $50 per month if you have it on the high setting for eight hours per day. If you have it on a low setting for just four hours in the evening, it will cost around $12 per month in electricity.

These figures are based upon the average cost of electricity in the USA and will vary depending on what you actually pay for your electricity. 

One of the great things about electric fireplaces is that they warm up instantly and can be used to heat just one area of your house. This means that you can just heat the room that you are using and only when you are actually in it. By zoning your heating in this way you can reduce the amount of electricity you use and save money.

Many modern electric fireplaces will have a thermostat that controls when the fire comes on and off. It is often also possible to set a timer to tie the heating in with your routine so that you can have it set to go off when you leave for work and come on just before you get back.

Some electric fireplaces even come with a remote control so you can simply turn it on and off or adjust the settings from the comfort of your armchair.

electric fireplace with remote control
many electric fireplaces have remote controls

Is It Cheaper To Run An Electric Fireplace Or The Furnace?

Running an electric fireplace is a lot cheaper than using the furnace to heat your home. A gas furnace costs between $0.28 and $0.95 per hour to run, depending on the size of your home. Yet an electric fireplace costs just $0.21 per hour on average.

Electric fireplaces are cheaper to run than both gas and electric furnaces because a furnace will warm up your entire house when you may only need heat in one or two rooms.

Whether it is cheaper to use an electric fireplace or the furnace will depend upon how you use your home. Do you spend most of your time in just one room? If so then you are probably best off just heating that space with an electric fireplace or space heater – it makes no sense to spend money heating rooms that you aren’t using. 

Suggested read: Which Type Of Heater Is The Cheapest To Run?

If you have a busy household with kids running in and out and using all of the rooms during the day it might be more sensible to use the furnace to heat the whole house up and keep everyone comfortable. 

If you don’t fit either of these clear usage patterns in your household, finding out whether it is cheaper to run an electric fireplace or the furnace in your home is actually quite complicated.

It will depend on a number of factors like the efficiency of your central furnace, how modern it is, and whether it has been well maintained. Other factors like the amount of insulation in your home and the quality of your windows will also play a part.

Are Electric Fireplaces Better Than Space Heaters?

Electric fireplaces are better than space heaters in many ways; they look much better with a beautiful flame effect and can actually add value to your home. They are safer, easier to install, require less maintenance, and create a far better ambiance. 

I don’t think that it is a very close contest when comparing electric fireplaces with space heaters. Aesthetically electric fireplaces look so much nicer and you don’t have to worry about tripping over trailing wires all the time.

beautiful electric fireplace
electric fireplaces can look beautiful

Usually, an electric fireplace can be installed simply and cheaply without the need for an electrician or other professional help. I can’t think of anything that is more comforting than putting your feet up by the fire and having a warm drink when you have just come in from the cold. Putting your feet up by the space heater just isn’t quite the same!

If you are looking for occasional heat that can be moved around your house then it might be best to look at getting a space heater as these are so easy to move around from room to room.  But for a more permanent heating solution, an electric fireplace is usually best.

Suggested Read: The Cost To Run a 1500 Watt Space Heater

elctric fireplace and electric heater
An electric fireplace next to an electric heater

Are Electric Fireplaces More Efficient Than Gas Fireplaces?

Electric fireplaces are more efficient than gas fireplaces. In fact, electric fireplaces are 100% efficient as all of the electricity used is converted directly into heat. Gas fireplaces have inefficiencies as heat is lost through the flue.

When it comes to heaters, efficiency is defined as the amount of energy used that actually provides heat to your room.

So, for example, a fire that is rated as 90 percent efficient will mean that 10% of the energy that has been used (and paid for) will have been lost somewhere in the system.

A 100% efficient electric fireplace will mean that all of the energy you use will translate directly into heat for your room. This is a definite benefit of electric heaters – who wants to pay for energy that is wasted and provides no benefit? 

Modern glass-fronted gas fires can also be highly efficient with up to 90% of the energy being converted into heat in your room. This isn’t too bad and might be worth considering depending on your situation.

gas fire
open-fronted gas fireplace

It is certainly a big improvement on older open-fronted gas fires which could only reach around 75% efficiency.

So, if you have an ancient gas fire knocking around it is probably worth your while to consider getting an upgrade to either a more modern gas fire or a 100% efficient electric fireplace.  

The Best Energy-Efficient Electric Fireplaces

If you’re looking for a new electric fireplace, here are some of the best low-wattage electric fireplaces that will heat your room without wasting electricity.

The Best Recessed Electric Fireplace

This wall-mounted electric fireplace is ultra thin, so it’s easy to install in any stud wall. It’s low noise and has a timer for increased energy efficiency. You can even adjust the flames to be 12 different colors!

The Most Realistic Electric Fireplace

This 1500W electric fireplace has the most realistic looking flame and it even comes with a fire crackling sound that you can turn on or off with the remote control. It comes in three different sizes to suit your space perfectly.

The Best Portable Electric Fireplace

If you like the look of an electric fireplace but prefer the portability of a space heater, then this small electric fireplace is ideal. With a realistic flame effect, it looks lovely. And, as it uses just 1000 watts, it will keep your bills lower than a more powerful heater.

The Bottom Line

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and now have a better idea of the cost to run an electric fireplace. According to the United States energy information administration, the average household spends 45% of its energy cost on heat, so it’s wise to be looking for ways to economize. 

You should now know how to work out what it costs to run an electric fireplace and how much you can save by turning it off for an hour or two. This knowledge should also help you to decide when it’s time to use the central heating, and when it’s best to just heat one area of your home using an electric fireplace. 

It’s encouraging to know that an electric fireplace is 100% efficient and that you’re not wasting any money or energy when using it. Of course, the best way to save money is to only use energy when you need it, so be sure that your thermostat is not set too high. Doing this is not only good for your bank balance but you will also be doing your bit for the environment. 

Wondering what’s the best temperature to set your thermostat to in winter? I have all of the info on that for you here: The Average (And Best) House Temperature in Winter.

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