The Numbers Game - Cost Effective Heating
While the features of electric fireplaces are amazing, the amount of money customers save when they choose an electric fireplace over a gas or wood-burning fireplace is absolutely astounding. Most homes within the United States were heated by gas or wood-burning fireplaces up to the 1970s. Research has shown at least 43 percent of Americans have switched to electric heating within the past ten years. So, why did they decide to go to electric?
Wood-burning, gas and electric fireplaces each have the ability to push out heat into your room, but the annual cost to do so can vary with each. Gas fireplaces typically cost between 17-19 cents an hour to produce enough heat to administer 20,000 BTUs. However, much of this heat is often lost up the chimney. Depending on the price of gas within the area, the average yearly cost of the gas fireplace would be about $60. Wood-burning fireplaces, however, would cost about $190 per year to produce 20,000 BTUs. Again, this is not very efficient since a majority of this heat also is lost in the chimney. Electric fireplaces produce less heat per unit, but can be a great way to utilize zone heating since there is little heat lost up the chimney. To compare, electric heaters will cost an average of 8-12 cents per hour to produce heat, making the average about $25 a year. Additionally, wood and gas-burning fireplaces do not have the option of operating with only the flame effect, so while a gas or wood-burning fireplace could safely operate for about five months out of the year, depending upon location, an electric fireplace could operate year-round at a fraction of the cost.
According to a recent survey done by the National Center for Real Estate Research, a fireplace can increase the average cost of a home by nearly 12 percent. If a home does not already have a fireplace within it, though, homeowners can expect to pay around $5-7,000 to install a flue, chimney, mantel and fireplace. Additional costs can add up when renovations or room expansions are needed, too. After all that hassle, most wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace owners still need to pay professionals to annually inspect the chimney and flue and pay fuel costs so the warmth can still be provided. Electric fireplaces, on the other hand, can be easily installed because they only need a standard wall outlet to operate, and they do not need a chimney or flue because they do not emit any smoke. In addition, electric fireplaces come in a range of styles that will fit any home, condominium, apartment or office space and certain styles can be easily stored when not in use. Electric fireplaces allow homeowners to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a traditional fireplace and mantel without the hassle or expense of long renovations and installations.
On top of the installation and annual operation fees, both gas and wood-burning fireplaces depend upon natural resources to produce heat within a home. The average cost of fire wood in the United States in 2012 was about $300 for a cord of wood or $6-8 for less than a cubic foot of wood from the local grocery store. Costs, however, can vary depending upon location and the type of wood. Typically, hard woods like oak burn for a longer amount of time than soft woods like pine would. Although hard woods burn longer, they can also be more expensive. Even soft wood costs can add up, though, if a fireplace is in constant use.
Gas fireplaces depend upon the average gas prices within the area. With the average cost for gas in 2012 being around $3.60 per gallon, gas fireplaces can quickly add up when they are regularly in use. Additionally, gas fireplaces require a pilot light, which is a single flame designed to ignite and maintain the flame throughout its use. If a pilot light goes out unexpectedly, owners can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $75.
Electric fireplaces do not need wood or gas to fuel the flame effect. Instead, electric fireplaces can run off a standard home outlet. To avoid wasting energy, homeowners also have the option of unplugging the unit from the wall.
After comparing the numbers, electric fireplaces and heaters will save homeowners thousands in installation, fuel and annual fees. On top of all of the money saving, owners can expect a fireplace that gives off the traditional look and heat of a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace without the hassle of maintenance and upkeep throughout the year.