Manufacturers of electric fireplaces are now placing more importance on the energy efficiency of their products more than ever before.
Fireplaces have always traditionally been very inefficient forms of heating a home, but the rise in popularity of electric fireplaces means that the efficiency of fireplaces is moving in the right direction.
Solutions like wood burning stoves help to improve on the poor energy efficiency of traditional open fireplaces, but are electric fireplaces energy efficient?
Electric fireplaces can convert 100% of the energy into heat, with minimal to no wastage. LED lighting and thermostatic control helps electric fireplaces to use only what energy is necessary in order to keep a room at a desired temperature.
However some models of electric fireplace will be more energy efficient than others.
We’ve explained below what makes an electric fireplace typically more energy efficient compared to other types of fireplaces, and what desirable features you should look for on an electric fireplace in terms of maximizing energy efficiency.
Why Electric Fireplaces Are Energy Efficient
Electric fireplaces can be considered to be 100% efficient because almost all of the energy consumed is converted to heat.
Unlike other types of fireplace such as wood burning and gas, electric fireplaces don’t produce a real flame and therefore don’t release any other byproducts such as smoke or waste gases.
This, and a number of other features, helps to make electric fireplaces a solid investment for your home when it comes to maximizing the heating potential of a room, while also helping to reduce the amount of energy used in order to generate the heat.
The main reasons why electric fireplaces can be considered to be energy efficient are that:
- All of the energy (electricity) used is converted to heat.
- No other harmful byproducts are produced such as waste gases or smoke, which could reduce the efficiency.
- Can typically use flames without the heater being on.
- No solid fuels burnt.
- Use of LED lighting rather than halogen bulbs.
- Thermostatic control to regulate temperatures and save energy.
Unlike other fireplaces, electric fireplaces are the only type that run solely off an electrical supply. This means that electricity is the source of energy for both the flame effects and the heater.
We’ve explained how an electric fireplace works in more detail here, but they typically produce the flame effects by reflecting a light source off a set of rotating mirrors onto a screen, while a form of space heater, such as fan forced or infrared, produces supplementary heat.
There may be some minor energy loss in the form of light and noise but an electric fireplace is able to produce a lot of heat for the amount of energy used.
Furthermore, unlike some other types of fireplace such as wood burning, an electric fireplace can be turned on and off in an instant.
This means that no energy is wasted in setting up the fireplace or letting it burn through (as you would do with a wood burning fire). With an electric fireplace you’re able to receive all of the heat immediately as well as being able to stop the fireplace from producing heat and consuming energy at the switch of a button.
In comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that for the energy efficiency of open wood burning fireplaces:
Most traditional open fireplaces lose over 90 percent of the fire’s heat out of the chimney, and much of the heated air in the room goes with it.EPA
Wood burning stoves mostly help to solve the issue of the poor energy efficiency of open wood burning fireplaces by burning the wood and distributing the heat more efficiently, but can’t be on the same level as an electric fireplace can provide in terms of energy efficiency.
No Harmful Byproducts
As an electric fireplace is a form of electrical appliance and runs on electricity, there are no major waste byproducts released from the creation of the flame effects or the generation of the heat.
Much of the energy used in a wood burning or gas fireplace is converted to steam, smoke or gas, which need to be vented out of your home; meaning less heat being produced as a result.
Flames Without Heat
The heater on an electric fireplace will typically consume much more energy than what is consumed by the components that create the flame effects.
An electric fireplace needs to draw a lot of power in order to generate the heat. Thankfully many models of electric fireplace allow you to enjoy the look of the flames without the heater being on.
Our electric fireplace stove has this functionality. When turning the electric stove on at the unit, the flames automatically turn on without the heat. We need to turn on more switches if we want the fireplace to start releasing heat.
Electric fireplaces have traditionally used halogen bulbs to produce the light needed for the flames, which can use much more energy compared to LEDs and typically need to be replaced every couple of years.
Newer models of electric fireplace generally now incorporate LED lights into their flame effect components rather than bulbs.
This allows electric fireplaces to use much less energy to generate the flames, and the LEDs can last many tens of thousands of hours.
Our electric fireplace stove uses LEDs, whereas the previous version of this particular model of fireplace used a bulb.
The instruction manual for our electric stove explains that there are no user serviceable parts within the fireplace, meaning that the LED in the unit is rated to last as long as the lifespan as the fireplace.
Many electric fireplaces incorporate a thermostat into the functionality of the unit that helps with the overall energy efficiency of the fireplace.
A thermostatic on an electric fireplace helps to regulate the desired temperature of a room.
Once the required temperature is set on the thermostat a fireplace will bring the room up to that temperature and then continuously turn its heater on and off to keep it at that set temperature.
As an electric fireplace isn’t consuming any energy when it’s off, this helps to improve the energy efficiency and stops it from wasting too much energy by only being on when it’s required.
Our electric stove has a thermostat, and we use it to help regulate the temperature of any room that we use it in.
Electric Fireplace Energy Consumption
Electric fireplaces can be considered to be a form of space heater.
We’ve explained why this is in more detail here, but an electric fireplace uses similar components found in a conventional home space heater, such as a blower and heating element.
Our electric fireplaces stove uses a fan forced heating system where air is sucked in from the back of the fireplace and a blower forces the air over a heating element to release warmer air into the room.
So how much energy do electric fireplaces use?
The energy usage of an electric fireplace will scale linearly with the wattage of the unit. A 1500W electric fireplace that uses a conventional fan space heater will use 1.5kW of electricity every hour, which equates to 1.5kWh.
Therefore a higher wattage electric fireplace will use more electricity than a lower wattage one, but will be able to generate more heat.
When buying an electric fireplace its power should be sized accordingly to the size of the room or the amount of space you’re trying to heat.
For more information we’ve explained how big of a room electric fireplaces are able to heat, as well as explaining in another article what BTUs are on an electric fireplace.
However, many electric fireplaces offer the functionality of being able to choose between high and low heat settings.
This has the energy efficiency benefit of allowing you to use only what is required for every specific situation. The low heat setting of an electric fireplace can be used where you want to take the chill out of a room and will save on electricity costs in the process compared to using a high heat setting.
Our electric fireplace stove has this feature. On high heat setting it has a maximum power of 1850W, while on the low heat setting it uses 925W.
There are two switches on our electric stove that control on the low (I) and high (II) heat settings.
Are Infrared Electric Fireplaces Energy Efficient?
Infrared electric fireplaces use infrared heaters to generate heat rather than using the more conventional fan forced heating system found in the majority of electric fireplaces.
In terms of energy efficiency an infrared electric fireplace has the same efficiency as a conventional fan electric fireplace. An infrared electric fireplace will convert all of the electrical energy consumed into heat.
However there are some main differences between infrared and conventional electric fireplace heaters that make the way they transfer the heat to the room work in a different way.
You can find more information about infrared electric fireplaces and how they compare to fan electric fireplaces in another one of our articles here.
Are Electric Fireplace Inserts Energy Efficient?
Electric fireplace inserts will have the same energy efficiency as all the other types of electric fireplace.
Depending on the model, an electric fireplace insert will use similar components for both the heater and flame effects as found in other electric fireplaces.
Electric fireplaces are considered to be100% efficient meaning that all of the energy consumed is used without wastage.
This is much higher compared to open wood burning fireplaces where they can be as little as 10% efficient, and still more efficient than wood burning stoves that are still typically only around 70-80% efficient in terms of converting energy into heat.
The power consumption of an electric fireplace will scale linearly with the wattage rating of the unit. A 1500W electric fireplace heater will use 1.5kW of electricity per hour and therefore have a power consumption of 1.5kWh.
Many features can be found on modern electric fireplaces that help to improve their energy efficiency such as the use of LED lights instead of bulbs, thermostatic control and the ability to use the flames without the heater.