Gas or Electric Fire: Which is Cheaper to Run?

Posted by in Home Furnishings, Home Improvements

As the days get colder and the nights grow longer, it’s time to start preparing for the months ahead. Whether you need to replace an existing fireplace or are looking to top up the warmth provided by your central heating system, with the right choice you can minimise your energy spend without compromising on warmth. This post will help you decide between a gas or electric fire based on your heating requirements and the space for which it is intended.

Gas fire or electric fire?

Gas or Electric Fire: Which is Cheaper to Run?

Initial cost vs. long-term use

While electric fires tend to be cheaper to purchase initially, gas fires are usually cheaper to run per kW of heat produced. However, they can also be harder to control, so you’ll need to take care not to waste power by overheating the space.

Installation and maintenance

The installation and maintenance costs of a gas fireplace are typically a great deal higher than those of an electric fire. Most need a chimney except for flueless gas fires, which are fitted with catalytic converters to convert the carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Gas Safe recommends that they are safety checked once a year and serviced according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

By contrast, electric fires are simply plugged into a wall socket and require very little maintenance provided they’re looked after properly.


Electric fires are more or less 100 percent efficient, so for every £1 you spend, you get £1 worth of heat. Flueless gas fires are similar as there is virtually no leakage. High efficiency, balanced flue gas fires with closed combustion systems are up to 90 percent efficient, whereas for traditional glass fronted fires with open combustion systems, the figure is usually more like 70 – 80 percent.

So which should you choose: a gas or electric fire?

If you’re likely to be using your fire a lot, a gas fire may be worth the higher initial purchase and maintenance costs as these will eventually be cancelled out by the lower running costs. If you’re not going to be using it so much – perhaps just on the odd evening or weekend – these expenses may not be justified and you’re probably better off with an electric fireplace.

If you choose a gas fire, opt for the most efficient one you can afford from a reputable manufacturer such as Stovax & Gazco, DRU, Chesney, Flavel or Valor to minimise repair and maintenance costs. It’s also well worth checking an energy price comparison website such as uSwitch to make sure you’re with the cheapest supplier in your local area.

With so many confounding factors to consider, choosing the right fireplace can be tricky so if you still can’t decide whether to choose a gas or electric fire, your local supplier should be able to help. If you live anywhere near Manchester, the staff at Housing Units are very knowledgeable and will be happy to discuss your heating requirements with you and help you to make an informed decision.

Good luck with your fireplace shopping. Keep warm and stay safe!