I live in a small home and was wonder how efficient those small electric fireplaces are. The a/c unit on my roof is also a gas pack. So my heat is currently gas and my last months bill was $95 for my heat and hot water tank.
And one of those electric fireplaces would look nice. Just wondering how much cheaper it would be to run one of those instead of my gas heat.
Resistance electric heat is all the same. It doesn't matter if its an electric fireplace or a cheap plug in heater- the number of BTU's per kilowatt is the all the same. An electric heat pump is much more efficient than a resistance heater.
Electric vs. gas heat- It all depends on your local cost of electricity and cost of gas (propane or natural gas). It also depends on how efficient your gas furnace is. If you have a vent free gas heater (98% efficient), then I would say that gas would probably still be cheaper.
The best way to save money would be to insulate better or to turn the thermostat down while you are gone or to close off unused rooms.
Electricity is usually a much more expensive source of heat than gas.
IF you live in an area where the electricity is cheaper than gas (which I'd be surprised about), I bet the payback period on an electric fireplace is SO long that you'll never get back half of your investment.
Instead maybe just try leaving the TV on, or a few extra light bulbs...
EDIT: I just saw that you are in AZ. I bet a heat pump is a much much better way to go, as suggested above...
Here's an energy cost comparison calculator that allows you to put in your actual fuel costs and the efficiency of your appliance, and gives you a cost per btu, so you can make better comparisons. I have discovered that currently, water heated with electricity or LP (propane) ends up costing about the same. As soon as the winter peak LP price drops a bit, the electricity is definitely more expensive. And electric prices keep going up. So we heat our water with a coil in our wood furnace, and don't worry too much about the cost.
Why do you need heat at all if you live in Arizona? I would invest that money in to fixing your house, you can buy alot of insulation for the cost of buying another heat source, and once you insulate your house your A/C will run alot less as well.
It gets down to about 34 at night not cold but cold enough. My house is slump block construction and there is only 1 window that goes to the main living area. Insulation isn't the problem, just wanted to see if there is anything cheaper.
The wife stays home most days but the days she leaves I turn the heat down to about 68 because I have 4 dogs and 2 of them are small. When home the heat stays around 70-71. All the light bulbs are replaced except 3 and I turn off the strip cord to the TV and computer when not in use.