Electric fireplaces are more than just beautiful design additions to the home. They are also great forms of supplemental heat with amazing cost savings. While gas or wood fireplaces rarely reach their full energy potential while burning fuel, electric fireplaces are streamlined to get your money's worth every time you plug in your electric fireplace. Check out the numbers.

Wood-burning fireplaces:

On average, it costs a homeowner with a wood stove or fireplace nearly $4,200 just for the installation. A full fireplace mantel can cost even more due to chimney, flue, and mantel costs. In addition to annual maintenance checks during the year, wood fireplace owners need to be prepared to pay nearly $5,000 if their fireplace or chimney is damaged. Assuming, the whole fireplace is fully operational and passes the maintenance inspection, homeowners need to be prepared to spend nearly $160 on a cord of firewood, depending on where you live. Most homeowners use about 3 cords of wood each winter, and all that money is spent on a fireplace unit that wastes most all of its heat output through the chimney and flue.

Full installation cost: $4,200

Potential repair cost: $5,000

Maintenance inspection: $100

+ Annual cost of firewood: $480

Total cost: Nearly $9,780

Gas fireplaces:

On the outside, gas fireplaces seem like effective alternatives to wood fireplaces. Not only do they cut down on the mess, but they are also easier to control and monitor, right? Gas fireplaces cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 for an installation, depending on the vented or vent-free option selected. Repairs for a gas fireplace can be close to $130, depending on the maintenance needed and manufacturer. In addition, gas fireplaces cost anywhere from 17 to 20 cents an hour to produce a flame. While models will vary, a gas fireplace can burn a gallon of propane gas in four to 6 hours. With national propane gas costs averaging around $3.20 per gallon, gas fireplace users could pay nearly $2,000 for a month of fuel alone.

Full installation cost: $5,000

Potential repair cost: $130

+ Monthly fuel cost: $2,000

Total cost: Nearly $7,130

Electric fireplaces:

While electric fireplace installation can vary depending on the type, overall costs are significantly less than alternatives because there are so many design options. Because full electric fireplace mantels do not require ventilation or expensive renovations to a home, installation for a full electric fireplace mantel, like the Wexford Brown Cherry Electric Fireplace Mantel, can be as low as $450. Additionally, electric fireplaces are under warranty so if any repairs are needed, customers need only to make a phone call for maintenance to inspect the unit. Finally, all electric fireplace units operate with standard home electricity. With costs averaging about 7 cents an hour for both the flame and heat effect and 3 cents an hour without the flame, depending upon location, electric fireplaces can also be used throughout the year. For a full month's worth of straight 24-hour heat use, homeowners can expect to pay $500 in electricity.

Full installation cost: $500

Potential repair cost: Free

+ Monthly fuel cost: $500 (nonstop use)

Total cost: Nearly $1,000

In the end, the numbers speak for themselves. It's obvious electric fireplaces are more than just flattering design pieces for your home, they're essential, cost-effective supplemental heat units, too.

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