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When the mercury dips below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius), you may find yourself reaching for a space heater like it was an old friend. Space heaters have been used in homes since the early 20th century. And when temperatures drop, so the demand for heating fuel — especially natural gas will skyrocket (and so may the cost).
But before you break out the space heater it’s important to know whether it costs you more to run it or if it’s cheaper to turn on the normal heat. Do these devices really help lower your energy bills?
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your energy cost this winter, there’s good news and bad news: The good news is that space heaters can be effective at cutting down on energy usage.. sometimes. The bad news is every location and space heater is different so knowing whether you will save money with a space heater or not can be difficult to determine.
If you are trying to use many space heaters to heat up your whole house then it is more expensive to do this than just to turn on your heat (since space heaters are less efficient than your normal furnace). However, if you just want to heat a room or two (such as bedrooms) then using space heaters is likely to be a cheaper option than heating the whole house that you aren’t using.
There are many factors to consider and reasons why a space heater might or might not save you money. Some things that will affect whether you should use a space heater or heat the whole house are:
- The efficiency of your space heater
- The efficiency of your furnace
- The cost of your natural gas (what most furnaces use) vs the cost of your electricity (what your space heater will likely use)
- How large a space you are wanting to heat
- How many rooms you need to heat
If you’ve decided it’s time to invest in a new space heater, these are just some of the things to keep in mind before you buy. To see the most popular space heaters just click here.
Can I Get A Space Heater That Saves Even More Money?
Not all space heaters are created equal. To determine which model will be most effective at keeping you cozy and saving you money, first take a look at your current home heating system. Are you currently running your furnace with oil, propane or natural gas? Do you pay extra to heat your entire house with electricity rather than fossil fuels? If so, you might want to consider investing in a hot air space heater that runs on electricity.
Electric space heaters are becoming increasingly popular because they’re often the least expensive option (for initial purchase). However, while they’re generally the cheapest upfront, they aren’t necessarily the most efficient. Although they start with a smaller price tag, electric space heaters will end up costing you more over the long haul if you try to heat your whole house with one.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average homeowner spends around $2,000 per year on utilities, including energy costs associated with heating and cooling their homes. That means you could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year simply by switching to an alternative heating method. For example, if you were able to replace your existing furnace with an electric space heater (that you only use in the room you are in) you’d be spending half as much on heating expenses alone.
While electric space heaters are generally the cheapest upfront, they can still be costly compared to traditional options when comparing monthly costs. So if you’re worried about your wallet, consider making the switch to propane.
Next up, let’s talk about space heater efficiency and how different types affect your utility bill differently.
According to the Department of Energy, the average American household spent about $2,400 on heating costs. Of that amount, 70 percent went towards natural gas, 15 percent toward oil and five percent toward electricity.
Does A Space Heater Use A Lot Of Electricity?
Although electric space heaters tend to be the cheapest upfront, they end up costing more over the long term in energy use. As mentioned previously, electric space heaters are less efficient than gas furnaces. They require larger electrical currents to operate and thus consume more energy overall (and in turn cost more money) when heating the same size of space.
For instance, according to the University of Maine, an electric space heater uses approximately 4 times more energy than a comparable gas furnace when heating the same size room/house.
The difference between gas and electric heat sources becomes evident when comparing the prices of both heating methods. Electricity costs around 13.75 cents per kilowatt hour (USA average), whereas gas costs upwards of $3.675 per therm. With gas heaters, homeowners enjoy savings of up to 75% percent on their monthly energy bill when compared to heating the whole house with a space heater.
So if you’re going to purchase an electric space heater, make sure you pick one that’s powerful enough to keep your home adequately toasty without burning the bank account.
Do Space Heaters Make Your Electric Bill Go Up?
Space heaters come in handy during cold weather months, but do they cause your electric bill to increase? Not necessarily.
If you use a space heater in your bedroom or office and can keep your normal heat off or set lower than a space heater will save you money. However, if you have many space heaters for your house or are using a space heater in addition to your normal heat then it will cause your electric bill to rise.
If you plug in an electric space heater, it will use electricity and in turn cause your electric bill to rise if all other things are equal. However, since many people use them instead of their normal heat that could cause your decrease in natural gas use to compensate for the increase in your electric bill.
In general, space heaters won’t drastically change your electric bill unless you have a particularly inefficient model or are using many of them to heat the entire house.
For example, if you purchase one of the most popular space heaters (found here) that uses 1500w that means you will use 1.5kWh of energy to run it for an hour. At an average of 13.75 cents per kWh (the average cost in the USA) that means it will cost you about 20 cents an hour to run a space heater.
So if you run your space heater for 8 hours while you are sleeping then you will spend $1.60 a day (or around $50 a month) to run your space heater. If your electricity costs more or less than that then you can adjust the above numbers to fit your current electricity costs.
Certainly no one wants to increase their electric bill by $50 a month. However, that is assuming you run the space heater at full blast for the entire 8 hours (unlikely) whereas if it was on the lower setting it would use half as much energy so it would cost about $25 a month to run the 750w space heater.
Most space heaters will be 1500w and then have a temperature setting (for the more expensive ones) that will automatically turn the heater on and off as needed to keep your room at the desired temperature. A cheaper space heater won’t have that temperature setting as an option so you will likely find yourself getting too hot or too cold when you use those.
Personally I prefer using the Lasko space heaters as I have had great luck with them lasting a long time and heating up the room quickly as well. They also have plenty of options for keeping the temp in your room what you want it to be.
Plus the Lasko heater oscillates (turns back and forth) to help keep the heat from all being blown into one part of the room.