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How Much Does it Cost to Run a Gas Fireplace?

Last Updated on May 25, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Gas fireplaces provide cozy supplemental heat and ambiance for many homes during the colder months. But firing them up daily consumes fuel and impacts energy bills. What exactly determines the costs of running a gas fireplace for seasonal heating?

This in-depth guide examines gas fireplace operating costs, calculates personalized projections based on local fuel rates and usage patterns, compares efficiencies to other heating systems, provides tips for maximizing cost-effectiveness, and outlines best practices for safe operation. Let’s dive into the typical pricing per hour, day, and month.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a Gas Fireplace?

On average, operating a 20,000 BTU vented gas fireplace costs $0.20 to $0.60 per hour, based on fuel rates ranging from $0.50 to $2.00 per therm for natural gas and propane.

This equates to $1.60 to $4.80 per day assuming 4 hours of daily evening use. More efficient ventless models average around $0.10 to $0.40 per hour, saving over 50% on fuel.

  • Hourly: $0.20 – $0.60 per hour on average for a vented gas fireplace
  • Daily: $1.60 – $4.80 per day (based on 4 hours of use)
  • Monthly: $48 – $144 (based on 4 hours daily use)

According to ElectricRate, the average cost to run a gas fireplace can range from $0.40 to $0.48 per hour, depending on the BTU rating of the fireplace. They provide an example where running a 38,000 BTU gas fireplace for 8 hours a day would cost approximately $1.60 per day or $33.60 per month.

The article emphasizes that the actual cost can vary based on individual usage patterns and local natural gas prices.

Inspire Clean Energy also discusses the cost of running a gas fireplace, stating that a 38,000 BTU gas fireplace would use around 0.38 therms per hour. At an average natural gas price of $1.06 per therm, this would equate to a cost of approximately $0.40 per hour to run the fireplace.

The article compares the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of gas fireplaces to central heating systems, noting that gas fireplaces can be a more affordable option in certain regions with higher heating bills.

Fireplaces Direct provides a more general estimate, stating that the average cost to run a natural gas fireplace is around $0.70 per hour or about $60 per year. For propane-fueled gas fireplaces, the estimated cost is higher at approximately $2.30 per hour or $200 per year.

The article also discusses the various factors that can impact the cost of running a gas fireplace, such as the fireplace’s features, BTU output, and hours of use.

These averages can vary based on:

  • Fireplace efficiency rating (vented vs ventless)
  • Type of gas used – natural gas vs propane
  • Local gas utility rates in your area
  • Frequency of daily and seasonal use
  • Home insulation and heat retention factors

Now let’s look at what impacts natural gas and propane fireplace running costs.

Factors That Influence Gas Fireplace Heating Expenses

Fireplace Efficiency Ratings

  • Ventless gas fireplaces are up to 99% efficient, costing 50% less to run.
  • Vented fireplaces average 70-80% efficiency depending on model, venting, and installation.

Type of Gas Used

  • Natural gas costs $0.50 – $1.50 per therm on average.
  • Propane runs $1.50 – $3.00 per therm on average.

Local Gas Rates in Your Utility Region

  • Prices range from $0.50/therm in inexpensive markets to $2.00/therm in costly areas.

Frequency and Duration of Use

  • Sporadic users see lower costs than daily 4+ hour high-setting users.
  • Programmable thermostats allow optimizing usage schedules.

Home Insulation

  • Well-insulated spaces retain heat better, reducing the operating time needed.

Now let’s compare ventless and vented fireplace models.

You might also like our articles about the cost of running a space heater, converting a wood fireplace to gas, or refacing a fireplace.

Ventless vs Vented Gas Fireplaces

Ventless Gas Fireplaces

  • Up to 99% efficient since no heat escapes through venting
  • Hourly costs average $0.10 – $0.40 depending on gas prices
  • Condensation concerns in humid environments

Vented Gas Fireplaces

  • Around 70-80% efficient depending on configuration
  • Hourly operating costs average $0.20 – $0.60
  • Some heat lost through venting lowering efficiency

Due to higher efficiency, ventless models generally provide the most cost-effective operation.

Gas vs Electric Fireplace Heating

Gas Fireplaces

  • $0.20 – $0.60 hourly cost on average
  • Less expensive per BTU than electric heat in most regions
  • Sufficient heat output for larger rooms

Electric Fireplaces

  • $0.08 – $0.25 hourly operating costs
  • Slightly more efficient use of energy
  • Limited heat output capacity for larger spaces

For whole home heating applications, gas fireplaces offer lower total costs in many situations. Now let’s calculate personalized estimates.

Gas Fireplace Hourly Heating Costs

Run a Gas FireplaceSteps to Determine Costs:

  1. Find your gas rates on recent bills – therms for natural gas, gallons for propane.
  2. Determine your fireplace model’s BTU rating.
  3. Divide BTUs by 100,000 to calculate therms used per hour.
  4. Multiply therms used per hour by current gas rates.

Example for a 30,000 BTU Vented Natural Gas Fireplace

  1. Natural gas rate = $1.35 per therm
  2. Fireplace BTU rating is 30,000 BTUs
  3. 30,000 BTUs ÷ 100,000 = 0.30 therms/hour
  4. 0.30 therms/hour x $1.35/therm = $0.41/hour

Use this formula to calculate your personalized gas fireplace heating costs.

Using Gas Fireplaces More Cost-Effectively

  • Install a programmable thermostat to lower temps when away or asleep
  • Service fireplace annually to optimize efficiency – replace worn parts
  • Only use in main living areas, not 24/7 even on low settings
  • Add insulation, seal air leaks, replace windows to improve heat retention
  • For propane units, take advantage of off-season tank filling discounts
  • Use humidifiers to control moisture and avoid ventless condensation

With some wise preparation and usage habits, gas fireplace costs remain affordable and reasonable while providing cozy warmth.

Gas Fireplace Safety Precautions

  • Always use the safety screen and keep objects away from the heat chamber
  • Turn off the fireplace and allow full cooling prior to any servicing
  • Ensure adequate home ventilation to remove exhaust gases
  • Make sure smoke and CO detectors are functioning properly
  • Use fire extinguisher, sand or baking soda to contain minor flare-ups
  • If any issues arise, shut down the system immediately and call for service

Following best practices keeps operation safe and reliable all winter long.

Fireplace Ambiance vs Heating Efficiency

For Primary Heat

  • Operate on higher output settings continuously
  • Keep ventilation to a minimum
  • Budget for higher hourly fuel consumption

For Ambiance

  • Use lower/medium settings occasionally
  • Ensure proper ventilation for safety
  • Supplement with other heating sources

Adjusting intensity levels appropriately for your goals saves fuel costs.

Planning a New Gas Fireplace Installation

  • Size fireplace appropriately for space – excessive BTUs waste money
  • Select efficient ventless models if humidity allows
  • Compare installation bids – prices range $2,500 to $5,000
  • Inspect chimney liners and ventilation needs for vented units
  • Consider dual fuel capabilities for added versatility
  • Prepare for gas line installation and hookup costs if not existing

Advance planning optimizes costs for install and operation.

Final Words

With operating costs averaging $0.20 – $0.60/hour depending on model efficiency and fuel rates, gas fireplaces provide economical supplemental warmth alongside more permanent HVAC systems.

Just be sure to use them strategically when occupying main living areas, and reduce central heating accordingly. With proper installation, maintenance, and usage habits, they deliver cozy heat without skyrocketing your winter utility bills. Ventless models in particular present an energy-efficient option proven to stand the test of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can gas fireplaces run continuously?

It is generally not recommended, as most models are designed for efficient supplemental zone heating, not continuous round-the-clock primary heating. Extended use has clear ventilation safety implications and waste of fuel when not home. Look to a high-efficiency central furnace or heat pump as a primary heating system in combination with a gas fireplace for optimal efficiency.

Can I leave my gas fireplace on all day?

No, it is not advisable to run a ventless gas fireplace continuously 24 hours a day for home heating needs. Doing so provides minimal cost savings over central heating, while presenting safety issues from excessive moisture and ventilation concerns. Limit use to several hours in the evenings when occupied for most efficient, cost-effective, and safe operation.

Is it OK to sleep next to a gas fireplace?

It is not recommended, as the venting and oxygen dynamics can potentially create hazardous conditions if asleep for extended periods. Take proper fireplace precautions like screens, follow manufacturer guidelines, and be sure to extinguish flames before sleeping to ensure adequate air exchange and ventilation.

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