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What is a BTU and How Does it Affect my Energy Bill?

What Is a BTU?

There are countless ways for people to heat their homes during the cold winter months. HVAC units, radiators, and even a fireplace. Out of these options, fireplaces easily give the best sense of a cozy and comforting home. Of course, this doesn’t have to be just a traditional wood fireplace. There are also gas fireplaces and electric fireplaces as well.

For obvious safety and efficiency concerns with traditional fireplaces, and the huge leaps electric fireplace technology has made over the years, more and more people are choosing electric fireplaces over more traditional ones. This isn’t a surprise since most regions of the country don’t even allow homeowners to build new traditional wood fireplaces in their homes.

For people who are leaning toward electric fireplaces as a solution to warm their homes, they will be curious about how powerful and efficient electric fireplaces can actually be. They see electric fireplaces with a specific BTU rating, and another with a rating that has a higher BTU number, and don’t know how this affects them. This article is going to cover two very important questions: what is a BTU and how does it affect your energy bill?


BTU of an Electric Fireplace

What is a BTU?

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. In short, a BTU is defined by how much heat is needed to increase a pound of water by a single degree Fahrenheit. In essence, it is a measurement of heat energy. You can compare it to the standard unit for energy, the Joule. For instance, one BTU is about 1,055 Joules of energy. You can also compare BTUs to calories. Where a BTU is about the amount of energy needed for raising the temperature of a pound of water a single degree in Fahrenheit, a calorie is about the amount of energy required for raising the temperature of only a gram of water a single degree, but in Celsius.

BTUs are the standard measurement unit you will usually see referenced when you are looking at heating devices like bedroom electric fireplaces, but also the cooling power of cooling systems like central air conditioners or any other kind of air conditioning system. Whether you are talking about an air conditioner or a heating device, you will often also see a mention of BTUs per hour which directly correlates to a kilowatt-hour in terms of energy usage. More BTUs produced per hour will generally cost more in terms of electricity usage compared to a device with a lower BTU output.

For lots of stats and information about energy and energy usage when it comes to heating devices, you can check the Energy Information Administration website at Because it is a gov website, you can be sure that all information is accurate and up to date.

When talking about BTU, be sure not to get confused with the company Peabody. Peabody is an energy company that uses BTU as its unique ticker when traded on the New York Stock Exchange. While Peabody is an energy company and uses BTU as their ticker, this has nothing to do with the actual unit of measurement when used for the purposes of this post.

What does a BTU have to do with traditional fireplaces?

Traditional fireplaces are ones that burn wood to keep your home warm. Despite it not being electric, the heat it puts out can still be defined in BTUs. Of course, traditional fireplaces can have a huge range of BTU output depending on how many logs are burning at once, and how hot they are burning due to oxygen flowing to them. While traditional wood fireplaces tend to have an extremely high BTU output, the numbers are wildly misleading. This is because so much heat is lost through the ventilation system that fireplaces require. As smoke and harmful fireplace emissions escape out of the fireplace’s chimney, a lot of that heat escapes with it. This means that while burning wood in a fireplace can produce a huge number of BTUs, the effect it has on your home and how warm the fireplace makes you feel is only a fraction of the BTUs it produces. Because of this, wood fireplaces are incredibly inefficient when it comes to heating your home.

Gas fireplaces that use natural gas or other forms like propane are a little bit better of an alternative when it comes to the energy efficiency of the BTUs they put out. However, gas can be expensive when it comes to sufficiently heating a home, and many gas fireplaces still require ventilation. This means you will have the same heat loss problems that traditional wood fireplaces suffer from.

What does a BTU have to do with an air conditioner?

BTUs aren’t only in reference to heating systems but also cooling like in an air conditioner. In this sense, it is the same energy required, but for cooling instead of heating. Air conditioners with higher BTUs are typically more powerful but not necessarily the best. If you have too many BTUs, the air conditioner will cool off your home quicker but will cost you a lot more energy than is necessary to do so. Conversely, if you have too few BTUs on your unit, the air conditioner will simply continue to run, and the space will never seem to get cool enough.

What does a BTU have to do with an electric fireplace?

Think of electric fireplaces as the opposite of how air conditioners work above. While it is important to have a powerful heating device inside of an electric fireplace, you don’t need it to be too high. All this does is cost you a lot more energy to heat a room slightly faster. Electric fireplaces in the 5,000 BTU range are best for this reason. They are powerful enough to keep a home nice and warm but not so high that they are wildly inefficient. A wood fireplace or even the rare gas fireplace might have 10,000 or more BTUs of heat output, but all this does is barely warm a space faster for a ridiculously higher energy cost. Electric fireplaces with half as much heat production can heat a room almost as quickly but for a small fraction of the energy cost due to their high efficiency.


Kilowatt-hour electric meters, power supply meters. 3d rendering

What does a BTU have to do with my energy bill?

BTUs directly correlate with your energy bill. While some systems are more efficient than others, producing more BTUs will generally require more energy usage. This means that producing a lot of BTUs, whether it is by burning wood, burning gas, or electric heating, will use as much energy. When it comes to electric heating, this is easily reflected in your electric bill.

How are electric fireplaces better for my energy bill?

Even though electric fireplaces technically produce fewer BTUs than wood or gas fireplaces in many cases, they are incredibly more efficient with the BTUs they produce. The electric fireplace pulls cold air in from the surrounding room. An efficient heating element like an infrared quartz coil quickly heats the air inside of the electric fireplace, and that now warm air is gently blown back out into the room. There is no ventilation required, so there is no heat loss. All of the residual heat stays in the room for a much longer time, keeping the room warm at a much lower cost of energy.

Electric fireplaces around 5,000 BTUs are easily one of the most efficient ways to keep your home warm, and you will see the difference in your heating bill.

If you have a large home with many rooms, you can actually help your energy bill even further by installing two or more electric fireplaces depending on your needs. By placing these fireplaces around the house in multiple rooms, you only need to run the fireplaces in the zones that are occupied. You then leave doors closed to unused rooms. By keeping the space you need to heat smaller like this, your electric fireplace warms your home like an incredibly efficient oven.

What are some other benefits electric fireplaces have over traditional fireplaces?

Beyond energy efficiency and lower cost of heating, electric fireplaces have many more benefits:

  • No Work or Hassle – Wood fireplaces require a lot of work to clean and maintain them. Electric fireplaces you simply turn on and enjoy.
  • Effortless Installation – For most electric fireplaces you can simply place them where you want them and plug them into a wall outlet.
  • Many Types and Styles – Electric fireplaces come in many shapes, types, and styles so that you can find one that perfectly fits your home décor preferences.
  • Realistic Visuals – If you invest in a high-end fireplace like MagikFlame, you can get the super realistic flame effect that is hard to distinguish from the real thing.
  • Incredibly Safe – Electric fireplaces don’t burn anything, so there is no additional risk of a house fire or harmful emissions you might breathe in. Both of these are substantial safety concerns for wood-burning and gas-burning fireplaces.

Which electric fireplace should I consider putting inside of my home?

Now that we have established the fact that electric fireplaces are an incredibly efficient way to warm your home compared to more traditional options, which electric fireplace should you consider getting?

Unfortunately, electric fireplaces vary a lot in quality between brands. If you run out and buy a cheap fireplace that you saw on sale, you likely won’t get all of the benefits that you are looking for in an electric fireplace. To truly get an electric fireplace that exceeds traditional fireplaces, you need to make sure you are investing in a high-end electric fireplace. Luckily, the additional savings someone would get on their electric bill from using a premium electric fireplace, will easily offset the pricing of a luxury electric fireplace over time.

It is better to think of getting a high-end electric fireplace for your home as an investment, not a purchase. The brand that best fits this description is MagikFlame. MagikFlame fireplaces have a number of wonderful features you can benefit from; energy efficiency is only one of them. The MagikFlame features you can most expect to benefit from are:

  • Astoundingly Realistic 3D Holographic Visuals – Electric fireplaces have many different ways of generating flame effects to imitate a traditional wood fireplace. Unfortunately, many of them truly fail in their attempt to simulate a fireplace realistically. This isn’t the case with MagikFlame; they are easily one of the most realistic electric fireplaces you can purchase. This is due to their unique holographic technology. Instead of the cheap tactics that the competition uses to fake flames, MagikFlame projects super realistic 3D flames as a hologram onto a real log set that sits inside the fireplace. These flames move realistically like a real wood fireplace, and have embers that dance around and shoot off the flickering flames. With MagikFlame, you aren’t just stuck with one type of flame style; you can select between 30 different types of flames with a quick touch of a button. This allows you to set the way the flames move or how roaring the fire is depending on what kind of mood you are in.
  • Immersion-Driven Auditory Experience – A real wood fireplace will always have the crackling and popping sound of burning logs. Many electric fireplaces fail to add this important audio sensation to the atmosphere they create. MagikFlame stands out in this regard. With MagikFlame electric fireplaces, you have the incredible sound of crackling logs that play along with the realistic fire visual effects. Adding these audio effects to accompany the visual effects adds to the rich ambiance and makes people feel like they are sitting in front of a real fireplace. On top of the crackling and popping sounds of logs MagikFlame can produce, there is also a selection of relaxing nature sounds you can choose to play if you want to.
  • Powerful and Energy-Efficient Infrared Quartz Heating Unit – MagikFlame electric fireplaces have a very powerful and efficient 5,200 BTU heater built directly into them. The high amount of heat you get for the small amount of energy you use is impressive. The 5,200 BTU infrared quartz heater can warm a 1,000-square-foot area. If you have an apartment or a modestly sized home, this is enough to keep the whole house warm with only one MagikFlame unit. If you have a larger home with more square footage that requires a bit more heat output, you can easily place more than one MagikFlame electric fireplace in different rooms in a zone heating strategy. This will further help to save you money on your heating bill when you only use fireplaces when those rooms are occupied.
  • Convenient Smartphone Operation – Are you interested in setting the thermostat from the comfort of your seat? With the incredibly convenient smartphone app that MagikFlame has, you can select the temperature settings of your fireplace from any room in your house by using your smartphone or tablet. This means you can turn on your MagikFlame fireplace that is in the living room when you first wake up in bed, and have the main room warm before you even get in there. On top of turning your fireplace on or off or setting the temperature, you can also easily change all of the additional features of your fireplace like a cycle between the different visual and audio effects.

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