When assessing the cost of using an electric fireplace in the home, it is important to always consider not only the initial price of the fireplace, but any ongoing operating and maintenance costs as well.
Depending on the style and size of the electric fireplace you purchase, the initial costs can vary greatly. A small, basic unit, for example, might cost around $200, while a more complex, built-in unit could be as much as $2000 and require professional installation. A standalone portable unit doesn’t require any installation, but an inset wall unit might have to be installed by a professional.
Because electric fireplaces don’t use or burn combustible fuel, they don’t suffer the corrosion that can shorten the lifespan of other types of fireplaces. As such, the overall cost of using an electric fireplace can be spread over the expected product lifetime of 10 or more years. As a bonus, electric fireplaces require almost no maintenance, only occasional cleaning of the glass or dusting of the surround.
Because all of the energy that an electric fireplace uses converts into heat, electric fireplaces are 100% energy efficient. In a traditional fireplace, much of the heat from a fire escapes through the chimney, allowing drafts to enter the house. Because of the reliable production of heat from an electric fireplace, most people who purchase them find that utilizing zone heating reduces the need to run central heating. Reducing the use of a power-hogging central heat system results in considerable cost savings without sacrificing comfort. Each hour than an electric fireplace runs costs between 7 and 13 cents, depending on local energy pricing roughly the amount of running a regular coffee maker.
When considering purchasing an electric fireplace, assess the overall costs. Add the initial purchase price of the unit to the expected annual energy use and lifespan based on how often you plan to have the unit running. Ten years is a reasonable expected life of an electric fireplace unit, so the energy costs of using electric fireplace should be multiplied by ten to obtain a rough estimate of the lifetime operating cost. Then, subtract a rough estimate of a 10% reduction in central heat usage that the unit will save you.