Are Electric Fireplaces Cost Efficient?
If you’re looking to save money on your heating costs this winter, investing in an electric fireplace could be a wise decision. Are you looking to save?
Just a few generations ago, most homes were heated with wood.
In fact, according to industry estimates, it wasn’t until around 1885 that coal overtook wood as a home energy source.
Now, property owners have a lot of choices when it comes to fireplaces. You may be asking: would an electric fireplace be cost-efficient for my home?
The answer? Yes. These types of installations can absolutely be a cost-efficient way to heat a property.
Save on your energy bills and enjoy a clean, easy hearth for cozy winter nights. Let’s talk about how:
No Wood, No Smoke
One of the arguments against electric fireplaces is that they’re not the same “experience” you get with a wood fire.
However, more and more people are ordering electric fireplaces, because they’re not only cheaper – they’re easier to maintain. (Take a look at Top Ten Reviews for some of the most popular electric fireplace models.)
Yes, wood is cheap. You can get it for free at a lot of places. But that doesn’t take into account the work you have to do to keep your home heated with wood!
You have to haul all of that wood to a place near your house (that requires a lot of time, as well as all of the cost of owning a truck, if you end up hauling more wood than you can fit in a family car).
You have to bring it inside and keep stoking the fire. And you have to deal with all of the ashes, as well as any ambient smoke that may have escaped through the chimney – which can be a major annoyance.
Wood and Effective Heating
In the 1800s, people kept a roaring wood fire to stay warm. But, by today’s standards, wood is actually quite ineffective when it comes to heating a building.
In a traditional wood fireplace, a lot of the heat escapes. Arctic blasts down the chimney can cancel out some of the heat coming from the fireplace. Most of the heat simply escapes out of the chimney and up into the outside air. (For more, see this Hartford Courant article).
By contrast, with a modern electric fireplace, the installation uses energy-efficient heater designs to project warmth in direct correlation to the kilowatt-hours of electricity used.
This means the heat isn’t lost – it stays in the building.
So we’ve figured out that an electrical fireplace is a good way to heat a room… but what about your whole home?
Work With your Furnace — Not Against It
Here’s the deal:
One of the key principles of using an electric fireplace as an energy-efficient heating source is to coordinate with the furnace that heats your entire house.
You have to figure out how to work with your furnace, not against it. As heat sources, they should complement each other. If not, you’re burning through (pun intended) money.
When you’re working with the furnace, you can save a ton of money and help the home heating system last longer.
The result? You’re saving quite a bit on energy bills. Doesn’t matter your principal source of heating is oil, gas or electric.
For example, if your furnace heats multiple floors of the home evenly, and your fireplace is downstairs (as it usually is) you may be pumping more hot air into the ground floor by running the furnace and the electric fireplace at the same time.
Depending on where the thermostat is located, the furnace may keep going, even if the fireplace is heating up a living room or other space.
That means you’re racking up a bigger energy bill, and putting more stress on one of your most expensive home systems!
The solution is to cut back on the furnace and heat only the rooms that you’re in at a given time.
If you’re in the living room, crank up the fireplace. Why heat rooms you aren’t using?
In some cases, the ambient heat coming up from the first floor to the second floor may even provide warmth when it’s time to go to bed.
Another good tip is to close off doors to additional rooms that don’t need to be heated (whether it’s the laundry room, pantry or other additional space that people aren’t going to be sitting in).
Zone heating is the key to using a fireplace in an energy-efficient way.
Rather than having the whole house system working hard all through winter nights, the fireplace can be a way to provide localized heat for whoever is in the house.
You’ll also hear less of that furnace noise (you know, the noise that indicates dollars are being spent).
Energy-Efficient Electric Fireplace Models
Speaking of energy-efficiency, why not choose a fireplace model that’s actually designed to be energy-efficient? You’ll save even more this way.
Truth is, if your fireplace isn’t any better than an electrical baseboard system, and you’re trying to use it for more heat than it’s supposed to provide, you’ll run up the kilowatt-hours.
With the right planning and support, an electric fireplace can be a very efficient and convenient way to heat a property. Many of these new models have a lot of functionality built in — for example, on many of them, you can choose to either just use the light features to provide a visual, or turn on the actual heating function which uses more energy.
Some of these modern fireplaces have remote controls, which make it as easy to crank up the heat as it is to change channels on your TV set.
Look into these energy-efficient options, and how they can help you to better manage heating costs for your property. You’ll find that good electric fireplace models can be great for a cheaper result, as well as a very effective way to enjoy on-demand light and heat. You may find you’re glad to have one of these models instead of an old “analog” fireplace.