How much does it cost to run a gas fireplace?

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What is the cost to run a gas fireplace?

Gas fireplaces provide warmth and ambiance to a home at a fraction of the operating cost of central heating systems. But how much does it actually cost per hour and month to run a gas fireplace? There are several key factors that determine the operating expense.

What are the main factors affecting gas fireplace operating costs?

There are three primary variables that decide how much a gas fireplace costs to operate:

1. The fireplace heat output or BTU rating

  • Gas fireplaces are rated by their heat output in BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour. A higher BTU rating means more gas is burned to produce higher heat.
  • Typical direct vent gas fireplaces range from around 25,000 BTUs to 50,000 BTUs for larger models.
  • The BTU rating directly correlates to how much gas is consumed per hour of use.

2. Local price of natural gas or propane

  • Gas fireplaces run on either natural gas from a utility line or propane in tanks or a bulk tank.
  • Natural gas prices average around $1.20 per therm nationally, with regional variations. Propane costs around $3 per gallon.
  • Higher local gas prices mean higher operating costs for a gas fireplace.

3. Hours of use

  • A fireplace used sparingly for only ambient heat will have lower monthly costs than one used as a main heat source.
  • Frequent, extended use of course burns more gas overall.

How is the hourly cost of a gas fireplace calculated?

The operating cost per hour of a gas fireplace is based on:

  • BTU rating
  • Gas type (natural gas or propane)
  • Local price per therm or gallon

The calculation is:

BTUs x Gas Price / 100,000 BTUs

Where 100,000 BTU = 1 therm of natural gas


  • 35,000 BTU fireplace on $1.20/therm natural gas:
  • 35,000 x $1.20 / 100,000 = $0.42 per hour
  • 50,000 BTU fireplace on $3/gallon propane (approx $22/therm equivalent):
  • 50,000 x $2.20 / 100,000 = $1.10 per hour

So a higher BTU unit on more expensive propane gas equals more operating cost.

What does it cost to run a gas fireplace monthly?

To determine the total monthly cost of a gas fireplace:

  1. Calculate hourly cost based on above formula
  2. Multiply by average hours used per day
  3. Multiply by number of days in month

Hourly Cost x Hours/Day x Days/Month

A few examples for a 35,000 BTU fireplace at $1.20/therm:

  • 2 hours/day use x 30 days = $0.42 x 2 x 30 = $25/month
  • 4 hours/day use x 20 days = $0.42 x 4 x 20 = $34/month
  • 8 hours/day use x 30 days = $0.42 x 8 x 30 = $100/month

So you can see a large difference in cost for frequent use as a primary heat source.

How do gas fireplace operating costs compare to other systems?

  • Natural gas furnace: $1 – $1.50 per hour
  • Electric heat pump: $0.15 – $0.25 per hour
  • Wood fireplace: $0.60 – $0.80 per hour for wood
  • Electric fireplace: $0.10 – $0.15 per hour

So direct vent gas fireplaces offer operating costs in between electric and wood heat, and can provide big savings over central furnace use.

What other costs are involved with gas fireplaces?

Aside from the regular gas usage costs, gas fireplace owners will also incur:

  • Electricity for blowers or ignition: Minimal, often less than $5 per month
  • Installation cost: From $2,000 to $4,000 installed for a direct vent model
  • Annual service: Recommended professional cleaning/service around $75 – $150
  • Repairs: Gas valve or ignition system replacements around $200 – $500

So the recurring operating cost is the main expense, averaging $60 – $150 annually for most homeowners depending on usage levels.

What can increase gas fireplace operating costs?

Factors that may increase your real-world costs include:

  • High daily use as primary heat source
  • Large, inefficient older model
  • Premium designer model with higher BTU rating
  • Use of propane instead of natural gas
  • High energy costs in your area
  • Frequent pilot or burner use even when fireplace is “off”
  • Large, high ceiling room being heated

What can decrease gas fireplace operating costs?

You may be able to reduce costs by:

  • Using for supplemental heat only a few days per week
  • Choosing an efficient, properly sized newer model
  • Having access to lower-cost natural gas
  • Installing ceramic glass doors to retain heat
  • Situating in smaller room that needs less heating
  • Turning off pilot light and burners completely when not in use
  • Having yearly professional service to ensure proper operation

So in summary, the cost to run a gas fireplace depends largely on the unit’s BTU rating, your local energy prices, and operating hours. With the right expectations, installation, and usage, a gas fireplace can add warmth and beauty while still fitting affordably into most home heating budgets. Careful selection of the model, venting type, and installation location can help manage costs for years of enjoyment.

What is the cost to install a gas fireplace?

Installing a stylish and efficient gas fireplace can completely transform a living room or family room. But like most major home upgrades, this improvement comes at a cost. What exactly determines the price to install a new gas fireplace?

Who is involved in installing a gas fireplace?

There are two main parties involved:

The homeowner

  • Selects the type of gas fireplace, venting method, and aesthetic design
  • Arranges for gas line work if needed
  • Obtains any permits required by local codes

The contractor/installer

  • Provides recommendations on fireplace models and venting
  • Physically installs the fireplace unit and runs venting
  • Connects the gas line and tests for leaks
  • Completes finish work like mantels and surrounds

What factors affect the cost to install a gas fireplace?

The total installation price depends on several key variables:

Type of gas fireplace

  • Vent-free: $500 – $1,500 for unit. Needs no venting but limited on size and efficiency.
  • Vented: $1,500 – $4,000. Requires venting but higher heat output and efficiency.
  • Inserts: $2,000 – $3,500. Designed to fit existing masonry fireplaces.
  • Custom built-ins: $5,000+. Constructed on-site for a fully customized fireplace.

Venting method

  • Direct vent: $20+ per linear foot. Uses a two-pipe system through walls or roof.
  • Natural vent: Uses existing chimney. Lower cost but must have proper chimney.

Gas line installation

  • Running new gas lines can add $200 – $500+ depending on length.
  • Conversion projects may also need updated gas lines for capacity.


  • Installation experts charge $50 – $100 per hour typically over 15 – 25 hours.
  • Masonry for custom builds takes more labor hours.

When is the cost to install a gas fireplace higher?

You can expect a higher total bill when:

  • Selecting a larger, higher-end gas fireplace model
  • Needing to install or extend gas lines from scratch
  • Requiring a long direct vent run to desired location
  • Adding extensive decorative mantels and surrounds
  • Constructing a fully custom masonry fireplace
  • Using a high-demand contractor during peak seasons

When is the cost to install a gas fireplace lower?

The price tag will be reduced when:

  • Converting an existing wood-burning fireplace
  • Able to use existing gas lines with minimal update
  • Short direct venting path through walls is available
  • Opting for a basic surround instead of custom mantels
  • DIYing parts of the project like surround construction
  • Scheduling off-peak times with the contractor

How does the cost compare to a wood-burning fireplace?

  • Gas fireplace insert: $2,000 – $4,000
  • New wood-burning fireplace: $5,000 – $8,000

Gas fireplaces provide efficiency and convenience at a significantly lower installed cost compared to traditional masonry wood-burning fireplaces. They can be a great upgrade option to add ambiance and warmth to your home.

How can I get the best value on my gas fireplace installation?

These tips can help maximize your return on investment:

  • Get quotes from 3 reputable local contractors
  • Select the right size fireplace for your space needs
  • Consider DIYing parts of the project like surrounds
  • Use existing infrastructure like gas lines and chimneys
  • Schedule during a contractor’s slower seasons
  • Apply for any tax credits, rebates, or incentives

Overall, installing a beautiful new gas fireplace generally ranges from $3,000 to $5,000. Carefully planning the project scope and features as well as finding the right qualified professional will ensure you get the fireplace look and performance you want at a competitive price.


Does running a gas fireplace use a lot of gas?

  • Gas fireplaces are generally pretty efficient in their gas usage. The amount of gas consumed depends on the BTU rating.
  • Models with pilot lights do use a small amount of gas continuously. Newer intermittent pilot or electronic pilot models use less gas overall.
  • Using a gas fireplace as a supplemental heat source is the most efficient way to limit gas usage. Running it as the sole heat source will consume more gas.

How much gas does a gas fire use per hour?

  • An average direct vent gas fireplace of around 35,000 BTUs will burn approximately 35 cubic feet of gas per hour when operating on high.
  • The exact amount depends on the BTU rating. Higher BTU models will use more gas to produce more heat output.
  • Refer to your owner’s manual or product specs to find your fireplace’s BTU rating and gas usage rate.

Is a gas fireplace worth the cost?

  • Gas fireplaces require an upfront installation investment, but provide many years of service at an affordable operating cost.
  • For supplemental or part-time heating, a gas fireplace can be a worthy investment over time compared to costs of central heat.
  • The ambiance and design value for your home also adds to the worth of installing a gas fireplace.

Is it cheaper to run a fireplace?

  • Yes, operating costs of gas and electric fireplaces are typically cheaper than central furnace heat.
  • Wood fireplaces have higher energy costs for purchasing firewood, along with more cleaning and maintenance.
  • Using a fireplace as a secondary heat source for only part of the day or season provides the most cost savings over main heat.

Is it worth installing a gas fireplace?

  • Yes, for most homes gas fireplaces offer an attractive return on investment. The ambiance and heating ability add value.
  • Gas fireplaces also provide efficiency savings over central furnace heat if used wisely.
  • Upfront costs are reasonable compared to wood-burning fireplaces. Operating costs are affordable as well.

How much does it cost to change to a gas fireplace?

  • Converting an existing wood-burning fireplace to gas averages $3,000 to $5,000.
  • This includes installing a new gas fireplace insert, modifying gas and venting, and surround work.
  • Exact costs depend on the insert chosen and what needs to be modified from the existing wood fireplace.

Can I install a gas fireplace on an interior wall?

  • Yes, an interior wall installation is possible with the right type of direct-vent gas fireplace.
  • The venting runs horizontally until exiting the house, instead of vertically through the roof.
  • An interior wall location may be more expensive overall for framing, drywall work and venting labor.

How much does it cost to run a gas fireplace?

  • Operating costs typically run $0.40 to $0.70 per hour for natural gas, or around $100 annually for supplemental use.
  • Propane at $2 to $4 per gallon can cost $1.50+ per hour to run. But propane units provide flexibility in placement.
  • Frequent use as a primary heat source will raise the operating cost significantly.

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