Most people love the “ambiance” that a fireplace will give any room (why else would Arizona have almost as many homes with fireplaces as Minnesota?), but with the ongoing energy debate, some people are now leery of buying one, fearful that it will run up their electricity bill. Here’s the bottom line: the actual monthly energy cost will vary according to the price of electricity in your particular area, but the fact is you aren’t going to see a huge increase in your electricity bill unless you leave the thing on 24/7. Also, most electric fireplaces can shut off the heat source, so that you can run the “flames” only, creating the look of a fire without the heat, which is what many people actually want, and that costs pennies! Generally, an electric fireplace will cost about as much to run as an electric room heater, but just like an electric room heater, an electric fireplace is not designed to heat up a house, it is designed to warm an area only. However, an electric fireplace can actually be more energy efficient and even save you money if you use it for this kind of “zone heating,” or heating the room you are in only, rather than turning on the heat throughout the house to warm the place up. Using your thermostat will heat areas of the house that are unoccupied, which costs more in the long run. Another big concern is safety. Here, electric fireplaces win out again; they are far safer for children and pets than either gas or real wood fireplaces. Electric fireplaces do not use actual flame, the exterior of electric fireplaces does not get hot, and they don’t produce smoke or fumes or carbon monixide. There is little chance of starting a fire either, as there is no real flame, and it is very difficult to push them over. Even if they do topple, however, there is an automatic “off” system that is required by law. Finally, electric fireplaces are far cheaper and easier than either a real fireplace or a gas fireplace, both to buy as well as to install, because they require no wood, no gas, no remodeling, and no venting. There are certainly pricy models of electric fireplaces that have many different design features, but you should remember that you are paying for the look, not the actual heating element, because the “guts” of electrical fireplaces are all pretty much the same. If you are a “DIY-er” that likes easy weekend projects – an electric fireplace is perfect! All you have to do is choose it (often the most difficult part), bring it home, unbox it, plug it in, flip a switch, and – add a beautiful design accent to your room almost instantaneously – for as little as $200! Without even breaking out your tool kit!