Heating an individual room is what these fireplaces are made for. A forced fan unit can heat up to 400 square feet. Some infrared fireplaces can cover up to 1000 square feet. In other words, an electric fireplace has no problem delivering warmth to the average living room or den.
However, an electric fireplace does a poor job of heating more than one room or heating an entire level or entire home. That simply isn’t what it’s made for.
In that individual room, though, the heat is more efficient than a wood fire. There’s no chimney for the heat to escape from. As much a half the warmth produced by firewood can vanish right out into the air. Not only that, but fires sometimes draw in the warm air from a room and send it up the chimney as well. With an electric fireplace, every bit of warmth stays right in the room where you want it.
Electric fireplaces work well in conjunction with zone heating. You can lower the heat directed to your family room and warm it with your electric fireplace instead.