Electric Fireplace Costs Secrets

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The graphs below provide approximate running costs and greenhouse gas emissions for different types of heaters (electric fireplace heaters included) in an average home with an insulated ceiling.

The costs and emissions are estimates only and will vary from location to location and with different types of use. It is intended that the graphs give an indication of the comparative costs between different types of heaters under similar conditions. The assumptions are shown below.

CENTRAL HEATERS (150m² floor area)
Approximate Annual Running Costs
Centcost2
Approximate Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Centcost3
SPACE HEATERS (60m² floor area)
Approximate Annual Running Costs
Spaccost2
Approximate Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Spaccost3
PORTABLE HEATERS (30m² floor area)
Approximate Annual Running Costs
Portcost2
Approximate Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Portcost3

Black BoxRange for central and space heaters is from most efficient to least efficient models known to be available. This is little variation in efficiencies of portable heaters.
Grey BoxThe more natural gas appliances used, the lower the natural gas price and the less the heater will cost to run (see assumptions).
 
Noteelectric fireplace heaters which use NaturalPower instead of conventional electricity will have no greenhouse gas emissions, but will cost more to run.
If wood is sustainably grown the fuel is greenhouse neutral. However wood fires stil cause pollution.

Assumptions
Prices
The standard domestic electricity price of 13.94 cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) has been used. The supply charge (about $93 a year) is not included.
Off-peak electricity is priced at 6.56 c/kWh. This is Western Power's off peak energy charge during 9pm - 7am all year round. It assumes that no heating occurs during the much more expensive shoulder or peak periods. If this happens, there may be a big increase in the cost. The supply charge (about $93 a year) is not included.
Natural gas is priced at 6.65 c/kWh for the first 12 units (1 unit = 1 kWh) used on average per day, 4.31 c/kWh for the next 24 units used on average per day and 3.17 c/kWh for units used on average thereafter. The supply charge (about $33 per year) is not included.
Where a natural gas hot water system is also used, the heater cost is derived using the second (4.31 c/kWh) and third (3.17 c/kWh) tier natural gas prices (i.e., it is assumed that the hot water system uses the first 12 units per day).
A 45 kg LPG cylinder is priced at about $68 which does not include any hire or delivery costs. A full 45 kg cylinder contains 630 kWh of energy. LPG prices can fluctuate widely and vary geographically (note - this variation is not shown in the graph).
Kerosene is priced at $0.70/litre.
Wood is priced at $130/tonne. Its energy content is 4.5 kWh/kg or 16.2 gigajoules/tonne (GJ/t).

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Consuming 1kWh of electricity from Western Power's south west electricity grid emits approximately 0.99 kg of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.
Consuming 1kWh of natural gas emits approximately 0.21 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Consuming 1kWh of LPG emits approximately 0.22 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Consuming 1kWh of kerosene emits 0.24 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Consuming 1kWh of wood emits 0.34 kg of carbon dioxide. If the wood is sustainably regrown the new tree absorbs this carbon dioxide making the fuel greenhouse neutral (ignoring transport emissions).

Technical
Central heater figures based on heating an area of 150 m2 in a typical insulated house for a Perth heating season (with a heating requirement of 2250 kWh/year).
Space heater figures based on heating an area of 60 m2 in a typical insulated house for a Perth heating season (with a heating requirement of 900 kWh/year).
Portable heater figures based on heating an area of 30 m2 in a typical insulated house for a Perth heating season (with a heating requirement of 450 kWh/year).
The Coefficient of Performance (COP) for reverse cycle air conditioners ranges from 2.07 to 3.15 and is derived from the Government's Energy Rating website. For ducted reverse cycle air conditioners, an additional allowance has been made for duct losses.
Ducted gas heaters operate with an efficiency of 51% to 87%, which is derived from the Australian Gas Association's January 2001 'Directory of Certified Gas Appliances and Components'. An additional allowance has been made for duct losses and electricity use (eg fan use).
Flued gas heaters operate with an efficiency of 60% to 88%, which is derived from the Australian Gas Association's January 2001 'Directory of Certified Gas Appliances and Components'. An additional allowance has been made for electricity use (eg fan use).
In floor electric and radiant panel electric heaters operate with an efficiency of 80% to 90% due to heat losses through the floor (in floor electric) and ceiling and walls (radiant panel electric).
Open fireplaces with real fire operate at an efficiency of 10% to 15%, with the majority of heat lost up the chimney.
Slow combustion wood heaters operate at an efficiency of 65% to 75%.
Portable electric fireplace heaters operate at an efficiency of 100%.
Portable gas heaters operate at an efficiency of 82%. This includes an allowance for increased ventilation requirements and electricity use (eg fan use).
Portable kerosene heaters operate at an efficiency of 75%. This includes an allowance for increased ventilation requirements.

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