How much does it cost to run a gas fire?

Are gas fireplaces fuel-efficient?
(Image credit: Adam Manola c/o Fireplace world)

It is one of the most popular ways to warm a home, but how much does it cost to run a gas fire in light of the uncertainty surrounding energy costs in the UK?

Gas fires are regarded as reliable, safe, and odourless, and allow householders to quickly heat their home. So, if you're looking for fireplace ideas, they are well worth considering.

One of the benefits of gas fires is that they are highly efficient – some gas fires can boast an efficiency rating of as much as 90%. This means that of all the gas fed into the fire, 90% of it is converted into heat for the room and just 10% of the gas energy is wasted. They also do not suck in unnecessary air like wood-burning stoves, so more energy is produced to heat your room.

The installation of gas fires soared when the Clean Air Act was passed by the UK government in 1956 to restrict the use of smog-producing solid fuels in urban areas. Coal fires were ripped out and replaced with gas fires throughout the 1970s and 1980s and the vast majority of fires were gas by the 1990s.

But what about modern gas fires? Here's everything you need to know about how much it costs to run a gas fire - and if it could be cheaper than a wood-burning stove or even central heating.

How much does it cost to run a gas fire?

The cost of running a gas fire or stove depends on several factors, but at its core relies on the size and efficiency of the unit and the gas utility company chosen.

Fireplace and stove producer Stovax has put together a method of discovering an approximate running cost of a gas fire or stove. First, identify the input rating (kW) of your gas fire or stove, then check how much you pay for your gas per kWh by checking your last gas bill or contacting your provider.

Then calculate you appliance’s cost per hour using the equation: input rating (kWh) x gas price per kWh.

For example, if you have a balanced flue Riva2 530 gas fire, which has an input rating of 6.6kW and your house tariff is 10.3p per kWh, the cost per hour would be 67.98p (6.6 times 10.3).

Is a gas fire cheaper than a wood burner?

As with any comparison of heating costs, this depends on a number of factors, such as the level of heating you need, the size of the property, fuel supply, how cold it is, and how well insulated the home is.

Watch where you source your firewood

Most people with wood burners source cheap or even free wood locally. Just remember that everything within a wood, including fallen branches and logs, is the property of the woodland owner.

This means removing logs from a wood without consent is theft, so make sure you have the consent of the wood owner before you take any wood.

As well as needing consent, be mindful of what you pick up. The Woodland Trust states that bits of wood that may look abandoned could provide a valuable service to the local ecosystem.

Each log burning stove is unique, with its own unique airflow and deposit build-up rate, and each property requires different levels of heating, so the results will vary. However, to get a rough indication of cost, we can take an example wood burner that will consume 3.75kg of wood over an evening.

A 40 litre bag of kiln-dried Hardwood Firewood Logs from Amazon is £18.95 for roughly 15kg, so £1.26 per kg. If we use the £18.95 bag from Amazon as an approximate gauge, if you use 3.75kg of logs over an evening, then you’re paying £4.15 to run your wood burner each evening. Compared to running your gas fire at 67.98p an hour, the gas fire probably is cheaper. 

Of course, it very much depends on how much you are paying for your wood and how fast you are burning it. There's also the question of how much heat each one might put out to consider too, which can be boosted by adding one of the best stove fans. The type of wood used is a key factor in this too. Kiln-dried hardwood is more expensive than cheaper soft woods as it will burn hotter for longer.

Wood sold at petrol stations and supermarkets is far more expensive too, so it’s worth buying in bulk where possible from local suppliers and storing it in a log shed. Buying from local suppliers can be as cheap as £180 for four cubic metres of seasoned hard and soft wood (a tipper truck load). Word of mouth can be handy for getting the best deals in your area so it's well worth talking to your neighbours about what they do. And make sure it is seasoned wood as any wood that is still moist will smoke, clog up your flue and be a fire risk especially if you have a thatch roof. It also won't burn as hot and will spit.

As well as traditional log burners, you can also choose from multi-fuel or wood pellet stoves. And if you are fully invested in the idea of ripping out a gas fire to replace with a log burner, you can read our guide on 'how to replace a gas fire with a log burner'.

Is it cheaper to run a gas fire than central heating?

As a rough indicator of central heating costs per hour Worcester Bosch says a typical boiler running 10 radiators in a three-bedroom detached house with two to three people living in it will use an average £2.82 per day or 12p an hour (divided by 24 hours) for a gas boiler.

This can be compared to the cost per hour of a gas fire above at 67.98p per hour. Again, this is a rough estimate and circumstances can vary widely.

This may differ depending on your fireplace type, for instance bioethanol fireplaces will be cheaper to run than gas fires but their heat output might not be as high. 

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.