Even more convenient than gel or ethanol is the “fireplace” that requires no fuel of any sort, only an outlet in which to be plugged: the electric fireplace. Like gel and ethanol, electricity is a comparatively poor means of generating heat, although the roughly 5,000 BTUs per hour emitted by the cheaper variety of electric fireplaces is probably enough to warm a mid-sized room. Price-wise, electric units vary widely (from $50 to $2,000); their operating costs, however, are minimal. Requiring anywhere between 750 to 1,500 watts of power, an electric fireplace, if used for but a few hours at a time, should exact no substantial increase in one's monthly electric bill.
Less advantageous, however, are the electric fireplace's aesthetics: If the sight and sound of actual fire is crucial to one's enjoyment of the fireplace experience — and it's hardly a mark of superficiality if so — then the electric fireplace is an option over which one should probably pass. The more expensive electrics provide fibre optic displays and flickering lights that, at first glance, do a passable job of portraying fire, and one can buy scented materials that emit the distinct fragrance of burning wood. But a flame is a flame is a flame, and to make one, one must burn fuel.