Is it cheaper to use electric heat or gas fireplace?

This is another question where the answer could be, it depends. The main 3 variables here are:

  1. Your electric rates.
  2. The current cost of gas.
  3. How much do you use your fireplace monthly?

Remember that BTU’s are what it takes to heat your home or warm up a room. Gas fireplaces produce significantly more BTU’s/hour than an electric fireplace. That being said, the two examples below should help give you a rough idea of the operating costs of an electric vs. a gas fireplace.

Let’s talk electric first. Many electric fireplaces, stoves and inserts use 1500 watts of power on the high setting and half that, 750 watts of power on low (1500 watts converts to 5118 BTU’s/hour).

For the example below, we’ll assume:

  1. The fireplace is on for 10 hours a day.
  2. Heating element uses 1500 watts of power on ‘high’ and 750 watts on ‘low’ for each hour.
  3. With the heating element off, the motor and LED lights consume 50 watts/hour.


ELECTRIC RATE 5ȼ per kWh 10ȼ per kWh 15ȼ per kWh 20ȼ per kWh
High Heat On 78ȼ/day $1.55/day $2.33/day $3.10/day
Low Heat On 40ȼ/day 80ȼ/day $1.20/day $1.60/day
No Heat/LED’S & Motor Only 2.5ȼ/day 5ȼ/day 7.5ȼ/day 10ȼ/day


Try to extrapolate your estimated cost per kWh or the length of time the fireplace is on each day. Since we’re using 10 hours a day in this example, let’s say your appliance is only operating for 5 hours a day. Then use half, or 50% of the cost listed above. If it’s on for only 2½ hours a day, use one quarter or 25% of the cost. Then, multiply that cost by the number of days in the month that you’re using the fireplace.

Next, let’s discuss operating costs for gas equipment. The burner on most gas appliances is adjustable. The more gas that’s burned, the more heat you’ll get from the fireplace. To figure an approximate cost to run the fireplace, remember these key points:

  • Natural gas is measured in therms. One therm equals 100,000 BTU’s of heat.
  • LP gas is measured in gallons. One gallon of LPG equals 91,500 BTU’s of heat.
  • For this example, the burner size is 30,000 BTU/hour.
  • For each hour of fireplace operation, figure a bit less than 1/3 of one therm of NG.

And, about 1/3 of one gallon for LPG.

  • Apply your current fuel rate.
  • Adjust actual usage up or down, based on burner consumption.

Let’s take a quick example. Using the numbers above, a NG fireplace operates for two hours. The rate is $1.00/per therm. For each hour of operation, figure about 30ȼ. For LP, figure roughly 33ȼ/hour if the rate is $1.00 per gallon. This is nearly 6 times more BTU’s/hour than the electric example above.

Below is a list of fireplace and grill stores that service Virginia (VA)

Manassas, VA

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109

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Mechanicsville, VA

Hearth & Home Shoppe
8151 Mechanicsville Tpk
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

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Roanoke, VA

Dixie Building Products Inc.
3342 Melrose Ave NW
Roanoke, VA 24017

Warrenton, VA

Costello's Warrenton Fireplace & Hot Tub
251 West Lee Hwy
Warrenton, VA 20186

For more information, contact your local fireplace and grill store..

2 Responses

  1. Jeanette Eberhardt
    I'm trying to compare an electric furnace to running a vented gas fireplace. I'm only using gas insert (brick lined) to an electric furnace to running a gas fireplace only occasionally to heat a big room w a ceiling fan to help augmentation of said electric furnace please??
    • Joseph Bodden
      Jeanette, thank you for your question. We could get into several calculations comparing electric vs. gas rates, but suffice to say that if you're looking to add some extra heat into a large room, the gas fireplace will do a better job of it at less cost than your electric furnace. Hope this helps! Joe

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