Cutting to the chase - yes. Next? The thing is, when you switch off your electric fire, the heat stops straight away. You can’t get much more fuel efficient than that. There’s no waste of energy, like waiting for the fire to die down (as with solid fuel), or in other words, no waiting for the units you’ve just bought and thrown onto the hearth to finish what they started. Instead, you turn the electric on, and you have the heat right then and there. Turn them off and it stops. Electric fires don’t need to be told twice.
But there are secrets to ensuring even better fuel efficiency. Let’s say, for a start, that your electric fire only needs to heat a small space. Perhaps you already have central heating for the rest of the house, and this electric appliance is required on a few occasions when the spare room needs an extra burst of heat. If so, then choose a model that’s small enough. Make sure you’re not accidentally heating the other rooms too. A big electric fire in a small corner might mean you have to turn the central heating down, and if that’s the case, you’re using a more expensive fuel source when you had the cheaper option already in place.
The thing is, gas central heating is probably your best bet if you’re hoping to maximise fuel efficiency in a big space. But you could set the thermostat in the rest of the whole house to a level you can live with for moving around and doing things, while in the space where you’re going to sit and relax, you could use an electric fire. Want that extra boost of heat from one source, to make it comfortably warm for the family to sit and relax? That’s the place an electric fire could supplement your normal room temperature.
Or if you have a room that isn’t centrally heating and if you’re not looking to add another radiator to the system, how about electric. Or if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to warm up a conservatory or summer house, electric fireplaces will be able to solve that problem quite easily, as long as you don’t choose one that so big and powerful it heats the garden too! And if you have a student in the house who moves around to different accommodation during term time, a small electric fire is flexible, affordable, and useful for a variety of rental spaces and spare bedrooms. Again, keep it small enough for the space, and that will mean it’s easy to transport and store as well.
In a solid fuel burning fireplace, a lot of the heat escapes through the chimney. That reduces the fuel efficiency. You end up paying for heat that you can’t use. Because an electric fire doesn’t use a flue you don’t get that problem.
Energy efficiency is really important these days, not just for cost but for environmental considerations. Everyone wants to do their bit to save the earth, and to be on the safe side, you can use a thermostat or a timer on your electric fire to ensure you’re only using the energy you need.
But yes. The short and simple answer is that electric fireplaces are energy efficient.