Most efficient fireplace.
  • Category:
    Energy Efficiency
  • Published:
    February 24, 2017
  • Updated:
    December 1, 2023

Gas vs. Wood vs. Electric Fireplaces: Which Is Best for You?

The choice between a gas vs. wood fireplace or even an electric one may improve the value of your home and may improve its energy efficiency as well. Fireplaces are a highly desired feature, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Make the right investment and then make the most of it by optimizing how you use your fireplace. When considering a wood-burning vs. gas vs. electric fireplace, here are some details about each and their pros and cons.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces

Wood-burning fireplaces are a traditional favorite. Wood is relatively cheap and plentiful in most locations and nothing beats the warm ambiance of a cracking fire.


  • Reliable operation with few moving parts
  • Produces a good deal of heat
  • Versatile–you can even cook using them
  • Inexpensive to use, depending on the cost of wood in your area

Things to consider:

  • Expensive to build–upwards of $5,000
  • Takes effort–you have to keep adding wood and tending the fire
  • Higher maintenance dealing with ash and soot and requiring regular chimney and flue cleaning to prevent a fire hazard
  • Relatively inefficient, as they draw warm air from your room and send it up the chimney
  • Wood smoke pollutes the air and has a negative impact on the environment

Gas Fireplaces

A gas, wood or electric fireplace offers ambience and heat. A gas fireplace, however, burns natural gas or propane instead of firewood. Are gas fireplaces safer than wood? In many cases, yes. If you have a wood fireplace, you can convert it to gas and enjoy its benefits.


  • Super easy to use, flick a switch or click a button and you have fire
  • Cleaner burning–a gas fireplace vs. wood emits far fewer toxins
  • Burns efficiently, providing high heat output
  • Affordable–especially if your home already has natural gas or propane service
  • Convenient–you don’t have to constantly add fuel
  • They can cost pennies an hour to run, depending on how much you pay for gas

Things to consider:

  • If you aren’t hooked up for gas, it can be costly to install
  • Without proper ventilation they are a carbon monoxide risk–definitely install a carbon monoxide detector and alarm
  • Some people miss the crackling of a wood fire
  • You can lose heat up the chimney

Electric Fireplaces

If you are looking for an easy option, electric fireplaces are easy to install and use. Depending on the price you pay for electricity, they can be an affordable option for staying warm. New technology recreates the feeling of a traditional wood-burning fire without the negatives.


  • Super easy to install–many are simply plug and go, no chimney required
  • Typically they are portable
  • Easy to use, as you don’t have to build or tend a fire
  • Clean–no shoveling ash
  • Largely maintenance free
  • All of the heat they produce goes into your room, not up the chimney

Things to consider:

  • Electric fireplaces tend to have shorter lifespans than wood-burning fireplaces
  • Not an efficient long-term heat source
  • May increase your energy bill
  • Not an amenity that adds to resale value

Most Efficient Fireplace Types: Gas vs. Wood-Burning Fireplace

Gas vs wood burning fireplace.

You might be wondering which is better, wood burning or gas fireplace. In the battle for the most economical fireplace, a gas fireplace is always going to win. When it comes to having a lower impact on the environment, again, in a gas vs. wood fireplace, gas is better. Gas fireplaces burn more cleanly and produce fewer polluting emissions. Wood-burning fireplaces typically emit 28 pounds of particulate emissions per MMBtus (one million British thermal units), Project Greenify reports, compared to natural gas, which produces up to 99 percent less emissions. And lastly between a wood burning vs. gas fireplace, properly constructed, your gas fireplace are typically more energy efficient.

Most Efficient Fireplace Types: Gas vs. Electric Fireplace

Gas vs electric fireplace.

When comparing gas vs. electric fireplaces, or even wood burning vs. electric fireplaces, electric is the cleanest fireplace. Electric fireplaces are the only ones that do not release pollutants into the atmosphere on-site. They can also be safer in homes with small children and animals. From an efficiency standpoint, all the energy they consume goes to heat your home with none wasted in venting.

How to Make Your Wood Fireplace More Efficient (If you already have one)

If, after weighing a gas vs. wood vs. electric fireplace, you still want the wood-burning option, you can make it more efficient and safer. While the wood burning option may not be the most economical fireplace, you can improve its heat productivity with these tips.

  1. Burn seasoned firewood. Green, or unseasoned, wood burns inefficiently and also creates a large amount of smoke. Seasoned wood — i.e., wood that has had at least an entire year to dry — burns more efficiently and with less polluting smoke.
  2. Open the damper as wide as possible. This will increase the amount of air the fire initially receives. Doing this improves combustion and the amount of heat the fire produces.
  3. Clean your chimney annually. Doing this prevents the buildup of creosote, a natural product created when fire burns. Creosote can build up on the side of your chimney flue, restricting air flow and, in worst-case scenarios, potentially creating a fire hazard.
  4. Consider installing tempered glass doors in the front of your fireplace. Keep the doors closed while the fire is burning. This will increase the temperature in the chimney and reduce the amount of warm air the fire draws from the room. You’ll find this is a great option for a gas or wood fireplace.
  5. Install a fireplace insert. Fireplace inserts, literally large metal coverings that include doors, often include circulating fans as well, which can blow warmth into the room, further reducing the amount of air that is drawn up the chimney. Again with a gas fireplace vs. wood, this tip works.
  6. Add insulation and a fan heat exchanger. This device will blow heat back into the room and minimize heat loss up the chimney.

So, What Is the Most Efficient Fireplace Overall?

The final tally is in. If you want the most efficient fireplace, you want an electric one. Get more energy-efficiency tips for your home on our blog.

Full gas vs. electric vs. wood-burning fireplace comparison table here:

Most efficient fireplace types.

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Comments ( 15 )

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Carlos Robinson - 3/12/2022

I was thinking of setting up an Electric fireplace for my home, but I had very little knowledge. That’s why I was looking for some suggestions on the internet regarding it. Thanks for sharing details about the cost and maintenance of this Electric fireplace, which are helpful for me to set this at my home.

Mark - 3/18/2021

Good article, but there is no discussion of the aesthetics of wood v gas v electric. Sure, it’s subjective and not directly tied to efficiency, but is a consideration for most people. My previous home had a wood-burning fireplace and I loved the sounds, smells and the rituals of getting the wood, tending the fire and cleaning the ashes.

Our current house has a relatively old gas fireplace, which we’ve had serviced. As much as I may miss the wood-burning experience, the gas fireplace is convenient and efficient and replicates a lot, though not all, of the quality-of-life intangible benefits of sitting by the fire. It produces a very “realistic” (in comparison to a wood flame) fire, and the ceramic logs are good enough that we decided not to replace them. I get that some people prefer the “cool” look of glass or stone, but it’s not for me.

It looks like electric fireplaces have come a long way, but I still get a distinct, “fake-fire” reaction to them, where I am too conscious of their not being wood-burning. It all depends on what you like and what you are looking for. I know there are some very pretty and very efficient gas-flame fireplaces that incorporate a glass sealed front door which really facilitates the heat preservation and distribution, but again for me highlights the artifical aspects.

JoAnn Agnone - 1/15/2021

The pictures under “Gas vs. Wood Fireplaces” shows a wood stove, not a fireplace”

ASH Green - 8/29/2020

One of the best articles that I’ve read in a very long time! I Took notes and surely gonna implement and test bunch of stuff you talked about.
You’re a beast! Cheers, Ash

website - 7/21/2020

I love that everything is explained in detail. Also, i like the layout of your site. All in all a very nice article!

Karl Petersen - 10/14/2018

You can’t compare efficiency between electric and gas fireplaces without stating the heat output of each fireplace you’re comparing. A 20,000 btu gas fireplace will cost more than any electric fireplace to run for one hour, but the gas one will heat up a 900 sq ft space in an hour, while the electric one may not heat more than 200 sq ft.

    Constellation Community Team - 1/23/2019

    Hi Karl, you make a valid point. It’s a good idea to look at the prospective fireplace’s reviews online, to see if the fireplace heats an area well. Some gas fireplaces fall short in that area, as do electric fireplaces.

ss - 3/4/2018

untill you lose power.

    Constellation Community Team - 4/12/2018

    Good point. For anyone worried about power outages disrupting the enjoyment of a warm electric fireplace, we recommend considering a generator. If you’re looking for one, we have our Guide to Buying a Generator!

Joe - 3/1/2018

These prices must be based on the part of the country with the least exspensive costs for gas and electricity. Do regional comparisons based on updated utility rates.

    Constellation Community Team - 4/12/2018

    Hi Joe, unfortunately, we are unable to price out costs for states, as they vary state to state, region to region, and bill to bill. That’s why Constellation is happy to offer fixed-rate plans, so that energy prices may stay the same for each customer for the term of their contract.

Jack - 1/15/2018

I ran an electric heater in one room for one winter month. The cost of electricity in New York surpasses any maintenances cost for any source of heating be it oil, gas, or wood. I find electricity to be the most expensive source of heat (even without maintenance cost)So the comparison would be between gas or wood for fireplace (insert).

    Constellation Community Team - 2/28/2018

    Jack, that’s a good perspective, we appreciate you sharing it!

Randy Robinson - 6/10/2017

I agree, gas is the most efficient, but there is something special about the look, smell and crackle of real wood burning. I like your ideas for how to make wood burning more efficient for us wood lovers. lol I especially like the idea of installing tempered glass. That was new to me. Great article.

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