How energy efficient is an electric fireplace?

With the current state of the world, being conscientious of your home’s energy usage has never been more important. Whether it’s rising energy bills, your home’s environmental impact, or both, there’s a lot more to be concerned about these days. As such, these considerations must be made when choosing the heat source for your home. You may be left wondering which type of fireplace offers the most energy efficiency and flexibility in their energy consumption.

With the current state of the world, being conscientious of your home’s energy usage has never been more important. Whether it’s rising energy bills, your home’s environmental impact, or both, there’s a lot more to be concerned about these days. As such, these considerations must be made when choosing the heat source for your home. You may be left wondering which type of fireplace offers the most energy efficiency and flexibility in their energy consumption.

Our electric fireplaces are incredibly energy efficient, they are built to have 2 heat settings for convenience and also to save energy. You can choose 800w setting for a warm fire, or on colder nights 1600w setting to give you a lovely hot fire. Our electric fires are also built with an energy-saving open window cut out device.

In terms of efficiency the controls on an electric fire mean they are 200% energy efficient, this means no energy or heat is wasted or lost. In comparison to this, a gas flueless fire is 99% efficient but a non-flu gas fire is only 25% efficient which means approximately 75% of the heat and energy is wasted.

What Does Energy Efficiency Mean?

Energy efficiency is a measure of the overall efficiency of an appliance’s use of electricity. In simpler terms, the energy efficiency of an appliance represents how much energy it uses versus how much it wastes. Talking about fireplaces specifically, energy efficiency refers to the amount of energy the fireplace uses to generate usable heat for the room.

For example, if a fireplace has 100% efficiency, it will channel the entirety of the heat it produces into the room; a fully efficient fireplace loses no heat, thus wasting no energy. If a fireplace instead has 50% efficiency, only 50% of the heat it generates will go into the room; the remaining 50% is lost in the fireplace’s waste byproducts, i.e. via the smoke, gas, or steam it produces. A fireplace must therefore produce no waste byproducts in order for it to be completely energy efficient.

How is the Energy Efficiency of a Fireplace Calculated?

As we’ve just explained, the energy efficiency of a fireplace is a percentage that represents energy usage vs energy wastage.

You can use this simple calculation to figure out the energy efficiency of any given fireplace:

Energy efficiency = (Energy input / heat output) x 100

Dividing the energy input by the heat output will give you the overall energy efficiency of a fireplace as a decimal. Multiplying this figure by 100 will then give you the energy efficiency as a percentage. Fireplaces usually come with the figures for their energy input and output on the unit formatted as kilowatt (kW) values. If you can’t find them on the unit, check the spec sheet or product description for your fireplace. If you’re still unable to find these figures you can alternatively contact the manufacturer directly.

Comparing Energy Efficiencies of Different Fireplaces

Between traditional fuel-burning fireplaces and more modern gas and electric fireplaces, the energy efficiencies of each type vary greatly. Electric fireplaces are generally the most energy efficient type of fireplace, with gas fireplaces ranking in second. Fuel-burning fireplaces come in last as they typically are extremely inefficient in their energy usage.

1. Electric Fireplaces: 100% Efficiency

Electric fireplaces are the most energy efficient type of fireplace. They convert 100% of the energy they draw from your electrical supply into power for the heater and flame effect. Other fireplaces lose energy via waste byproducts like smoke or gas emissions; electric fireplaces do not produce any byproducts and therefore do not waste heat or energy in this way. Every penny that it costs to run an electric fireplace will go straight towards producing heat for the room.

2. Gas Fireplaces: Between 50% and 90% Efficiency

Gas fireplaces can also be relatively energy efficient to run, but often much less so than electric fireplaces. The energy efficiency of a gas fireplace can range between 50% to 90%; this figure ultimately depends on the specific model. For instance, B-vent gas fireplaces are less energy efficient as they typically run at 50% to 60% efficiency. Direct vent gas fireplaces are usually more efficient, running at up to 70% to 90% efficiency. Choosing the right model could still provide you with a reasonably energy efficient fireplace; however, no gas fireplace can guarantee 100% energy efficiency like an electric fireplace.

3. Fuel-Burning Fireplaces: Between 5% and 15% Efficiency

Fireplaces that use traditional fuel like wood or coal are the least energy efficient type of fireplace by far. Fuel-burning fireplaces usually only run at about 5% to 15% efficiency. In other words, the majority of the heat that a fuel-burning fireplace generates is lost during the fuel’s combustion process. As the fuel burns, the fire produces byproducts like smoke and gas emissions. These byproducts are channelled out of your home via a chimney or vent, along with 95% of the heat that the fire generates.

Why Are Electric Fireplaces So Energy Efficient?

Electric fireplaces come with a multitude of unique benefits that make them the most energy efficient type of fireplace.

In summary, electric fireplaces are the most energy efficient type of fireplace because:

  • Electric fireplaces waste no energy, converting 100% of their energy input into powering the unit.
  • Having no real flame, electric fireplaces produce no wasteful byproducts, such as gas, smoke, or steam.
  • You can switch on the flame effect on an electric fireplace without running the heater when heating isn’t required.
  • Modern electric fireplace models use highly energy-efficient LED bulbs to create their flame effect.
  • Many models of electric fireplaces come with thermostatic controls that automatically regulate the heat output and energy consumption of the unit.

We explain each of these benefits in more detail below.

Electric Fireplaces Use 100% of their Energy

Electric fireplaces are the only type of fireplace to use 100% of their energy input, making them the most energy efficient. Both the heat and flame in an electric fireplace are fully powered by electricity; as soon as you switch it on, the electric fireplace will begin using its electric source to power the unit. The fireplace will convert 100% of the energy it uses into powering the heat and flame effect.

In comparison, traditional fuel-burning fireplaces are very prone to energy loss and wastage. Wood-burning and gas fireplaces waste up to 90% of their energy through emissions lost via their chimney or flue; electric fireplaces produce no byproducts and therefore do not lose energy this way. Traditional fireplaces further waste energy after you’re done with the fire, as you would typically let the fuel burn out; you can instead switch an electric fireplace on and off in an instant. Also, the glass front on a traditional fuel-burning fireplace can impact energy efficiency by restricting the fireplace’s heat output; the heater and flame effect on an electric fireplace are separate mechanisms that do not impact each other.

Electric Fireplaces Do Not Produce Waste Byproducts

As we’ve mentioned, electric fireplaces produce no waste byproducts during operation. Both the flame and heat that an electric fireplace produces are powered entirely by electricity; they don’t burn real fuel, nor do they have a real flame. Consequently, electric fireplaces produce no harmful waste byproducts. It therefore isn’t necessary to have any sort of ventilation system for an electric fireplace.

Traditional fireplaces burn real fuel, like wood or gas, and have a real burning flame. As these materials burn, they produce smoke, steam, or gas, and give off harmful emissions like CO2 and other contaminants. Because of their danger to health, proper ventilation is necessary to channel these byproducts out of your home; they require a chimney, flue, or direct vent to operate safely. The majority of the heat energy that a traditional fireplace produces is contained in the byproducts expelled through the ventilation system. Electric fireplaces, on the other hand, do not produce any byproducts. They convert the entirety of the energy they use into creating the unit’s visual effect and heat output.

Electric Fireplaces Have a Flame-Only Setting

One of the biggest advantages of an electric fireplace is the ability to operate the heat and flame effect independently from each other. The heating element and the flame-effect mechanisms are separate, with the flame in an electric fireplace producing no heat. You can therefore make use of the flame effect on your electric fireplace without having the unit generate heat.

An electric fireplace will consume the most energy when both the heater and flame effect are running. Using the flame-only setting, you’re able to enjoy the visual effect of the fireplace even at times when heating isn’t desired. This is a huge benefit that traditional gas and wood-burning fireplaces cannot facilitate. With an electric fireplace, you can ultimately keep your energy usage to a minimum by only switching on the heater when necessary; the fireplace will stop consuming energy to produce heat the moment you switch its heater off.

Modern Electric Fireplace Models Use LED Lights

The components within modern electric fireplace units are also highly energy efficient. In place of a real flame, electric fireplaces create the illusion of a flame using an internal lighting mechanism. The most common of these mechanisms is a series of rotating mirrors that refract light from a bulb; this mechanism creates the highly realistic visual effect of a flickering flame without any actual fire or burning fuel.

While older models previously used halogen bulbs for this mechanism, modern fireplaces now typically use LED lights. LED light bulbs are extremely energy efficient, using less energy to create the flame effect, and lasting for tens of thousands of hours. This essentially means that the lifespan of the bulb in an electric fireplace is as long as the unit itself; it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever need to replace the bulb in the unit. In contrast, traditional fireplaces require a constant stock of fuel to create their flames.

Which Type of Electric Fireplace is Most Energy Efficient?

There are two main types of electric fireplaces that utilise one of two heating technologies; models either contain a fan-forced heater or an infrared heating element. Both types of electric fireplace are equally energy efficient, converting 100% of the energy they use into heat for the room. With that said, infrared heaters will work faster and more efficiently to heat up a room than fan-forced models, particularly if it’s a larger space.

Fan-forced heaters are the heating mechanisms most commonly used in electric fireplaces. These heaters take in cool air from the room, passing it over a heated coil within the unit. They then expel the heated air back into the room through an outlet blower. A fan-forced fireplace can heat up a small to moderately sized room with ease using this technology. Although fan-forced models tend to have a lower heat output than infrared heaters, they’re still 100% energy efficient.

Electric fireplaces with infrared heaters use a different technology to heat up a space. These fireplaces convert electricity into radiant heat, emitting the heat into the surrounding environment via rays of infrared light. Infrared heaters don’t actually warm up the air like traditional fan-forced models; they instead use their infrared rays to heat objects and people within the room directly. Thanks to this mechanism, infrared heaters can heat up a room more quickly than their fan-forced counterparts. They typically have a higher heat output and are better able to heat up larger spaces.

How Much Electricity Does an Electric Fireplace Use?

How much electricity an electric fireplace uses will depend on the wattage of the particular unit. The higher the wattage of the fireplace, the more electricity it will use. With that in mind, fireplaces with a higher wattage use more energy but are also capable of generating more heat.

For example, a 1600W fireplace with a conventional fan-forced heater will use 1.6kW of electricity per hour. A fireplace with a lower wattage would use less energy per hour, but would have a lower heat output. To maximise the overall efficiency of your fireplace, it’s important to pick a model with the ideal wattage according to the size of the room you intend to heat. A fireplace with a higher wattage would be unnecessary for a small room; conversely, a fireplace with a low wattage would struggle to sufficiently heat up a larger room. Choosing the right wattage to suit the size of the room ensures no energy is wasted in the running of the fireplace.

Many models of electric fireplace also offer the ability to switch between low and high heat settings. This feature gives you further control over the heat output and energy consumption of the fireplace. On its ‘low’ setting, an electric fireplace will typically consume about half the energy it would use on the ‘high’ setting. You can make use of the low setting to warm up a chilly room without incurring the costs of running the fireplace at full power.

How Much Does it Cost to Run an Electric Fireplace?

Again, the running costs of an electric fireplace are primarily influenced by the wattage of the individual unit. Fireplaces with higher wattages will generally cost more to run than those with lower wattages. It’s also important to consider the length of time the fireplace runs for, and how much money your energy provider charges per kilowatt.

To calculate the running costs of a particular electric fireplace, follow this method:

Firstly, you’ll need to find out three values before you can begin calculating your fireplace’s running costs. These include the fireplace’s energy input, its estimated daily run time, and the amount your supplier charges for electricity.

  1. Determine the energy input of the fireplace in question. The energy input will be in the format of kW. You’ll find this figure either on the unit, in the product description or specifications, or by contacting the manufacturer. Make a note of this figure.
  2. Estimate the total time you expect to use your electric fireplace per day. E.g., if you usually run your fireplace for 1 hour in the morning and 2 hours in the evening, this totals 3 hours of daily usage. Note down this figure too.
  3. Find out how much your energy provider charges for electricity in pence per kilowatt. You should find this figure on your energy bill, or you can contact your supplier directly to find it out. This is the last figure you’ll need to make your calculations.

Using the values discovered in the previous steps, you can then calculate the running costs of your fireplace. Follow this formula first:

Energy input (kW) x daily estimated run time (hours) = kWh (kilowatts per hour)

Then place the resulting figure into this formula:

kWh (kilowatts per hour) x your energy costs (pence per kilowatt)

Using the result from the last formula, divide the figure by 100. If you follow the steps correctly you should then be left with a number in ‘0.00’ format; this number is the estimated daily running cost of your fireplace in pounds and pence.

Electricity is more expensive than gas at the moment (the difference will depend on your provider) however Electric fires are more efficient so if you are running an open gas fire at 10p per hour (approx) but 7.5% of that is wasted energy it is better and more efficient to have an electric fire running at 30p per hour but 100% is used to warm the room.

Those are estimates, looking at the average UK cost per KWh, electricity is around 14p whilst gas is around 5p. This seems a big difference but electricity gives you a lot more control over that wattage. Our electric fires (https://www.fireplacefactory.co.uk/electric-fires/) can be controlled between 800w or 1600w whereas very few gas fires have that level of energy and heat control which is why some rooms with gas fires can become uncomfortably hot.

  • Electric Fireplace – 800w – 1600w – 11.2p – 22.4p per hour
  • Flueless Gas Fire – 2kw – 10p per hour
  • Wood Burning Stove – 2.35kw – 23.5p per hour
  • Open Flame Wood Burner – 8kw – 80p per hour
  • Open Flame Gas Fire – 8kw – 40p per hour


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