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Photo: James Bombales

A roaring fireplace is a ubiquitous symbol of the winter holidays, but for those of us without a gas or wood burning set up, we’ve had to rely on streaming “Yule Log” programs on our televisions to replicate the ambiance. No matter how much you enjoy watching Nick Offerman sip whiskey for 45 minutes, nothing beats the look and feel of your very own fireplace.

In previous decades, the mere mention of an electric fireplace was enough to make most consumers turn up their noses, but thanks to new technology and innovative designs, the popularity of plug-in models is heating up.

“The beauty of an electric fireplace is that you can install it anywhere,” said Jo Alcorn, the owner of Whitewash & Co. and a designer on the HGTV series Home to Win. “You can also move it around. If you’re someone who likes to change up the look of a room, or if you move [house] regularly, an electric fireplace can go with you.”

We spoke to Jo at an event held by Dimplex, a company that offers a wide range of residential and commercial electric fireplaces. She gave us these five reasons why an electric fireplace could be a good fit for your living room this winter.

1. They’re better for the environment.

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Photo: James Bombales

Did you know that a gas fireplace wastes about 30 per cent of the fuel it consumes? Wood burning fireplaces are even more inefficient, with heat constantly escaping up the chimney. Fine particle pollution is another issue for wood burning fireplaces, as it contributes to poor air quality and respiratory problems. Electric fireplaces produce no emissions and are 100% energy efficient, which makes them cheaper to operate.

2. They’re adaptable.

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Photo: James Bombales

“A lot of people are tired of their wood burning or gas fireplaces,” said Alcorn. “The electric fireplace is an insert that you can replace it with. You can close up the chimney or cap the gas line, and then install an electric fireplace and run the electrical behind it.” If you live in a home with a non-working fireplace, an electric fireplace can be retrofitted to your space. “If you have nothing at all, you can actually purchase an electric fireplace with a mantle or one that’s inside a media console,” said Alcorn. “They’re perfect for condos, apartments and other small spaces.”

3. You can control the temperature.

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Photo: James Bombales

If you’re throwing a holiday party this season, you might want to light a fire to add to the festive ambiance. Gas and wood burning fires heat up quickly, and it can be difficult to control the temperature — seriously, nobody likes to sweat in semi-formal attire. The flame in a Dimplex electric fireplace operates independently of the heating unit, which means the fire can flicker all night, while the temperature remains constant.

4. They’re low maintenance.

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Photo: James Bombales

“With a wood burning fireplace you’re constantly lugging firewood into the house, and there’s a dirtiness to it with the soot and ash,” said Alcorn. “When it comes to gas, you have a monthly bill and the expense to run a gas line. With an electric fireplace you don’t have to deal with that.” Dimplex fireplaces are remote controlled, and you can even alter the flames and the crackling sound effects with the touch of a button.

5. You can style them just like you would a traditional fireplace.

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Photo: James Bombales

“I love to layer pictures or mirrors, and add in different decor items,” said Alcorn. “With a fireplace mantle, you can really beef it up and go a little bit over the top with your accessories.” She also recommends decorating with greenery and varying the heights of your pieces. “Mix in what you love, because a mantle commands attention. It’s a spot that you’ll always be able to see and enjoy.”

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