Which Type of Heater is Cheapest to Run?

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a space heater

Space heaters are an excellent way to add supplemental warmth to your home, office, or garage. If your household doesn’t have a reliable furnace, the space heater might even be the primary agent in your line of defense against the harsh winter climate. If you think you might want to get a space heater this winter, there are lots of obvious considerations to take into account. Type, size, price, etc.

But there is another equally important consideration to think about as well. Which type of heater is the cheapest to run?

Let’s find out, shall we?

Defining Space Heater

The name almost says it all. A space heater is any product that you introduce into your home to warm up—you guessed it—a specific space. It’s different from a furnace in that the warm air is circulated in a select room, rather than throughout the entire house.

In other words, the space heater you have in your family room won’t do your kitchen any good.

These products come in all shapes and sizes. Additionally, there are many different categories that differentiate one unit from another.

However, most space heaters have a couple of common features that make them what they are.

Namely? A heating element, and a method of dispersing the warmth that it creates.

In the case of a convection heater, that dispersion method might be the natural air currents of the room.

In the case of a fan-driven heater, it will (naturally) be a fan. But regardless, you have heat, and to get it around a room, you have yourself a space heater.

So, what method is the cheapest?

There are so many variables and options out there that it would be very difficult, and certainly controversial, to point to one specific heater and say, “this one is the most energy-efficient.”

However, we can say pretty definitively that electric heaters are always going to be greener, and more financially efficient, than natural gas or propane options.

They will also be substantially more affordable than running your furnace.

For perspective, the average energy-efficient electric space heater might cost you $0.10 to run a day. Central heating might cost you as much as $1.50.

All of this said, some units are going to do a better job than others. It all comes down to wattage. The higher the wattage an electric heater has, the more it’s going to impact your electricity bill. The same is true of any electric device that you have in your home.

Great deal, right? Get a few of these electric space heaters, and you can entirely replace your central heating system.

Not quite. Even though space heaters do manage to keep your rooms warm, they don’t do anything for your plumbing. Without a furnace, your pipes will freeze over and burst in the winter, which can result in tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.

If you want to keep your plumbing intact, you do still need to keep your furnace. But a good electric space heater can supply supplemental heat, and also help you to reduce your heating bill.

a heater (up close)

Tip

To keep your space heater operating as economically as possible, remember that you don’t need to run it 24/7.

Most space heaters operate by heating the air in a room, meaning that even once they shut off, the warm temperatures will persist for some time.

If you want to maximize the heat-trapping potential of your home, remember to keep doors and windows shut. It can also help to keep your blinds closed so that heat doesn’t escape from the windows.

Not only will moderate use of your space heater keep the power bill down, but it will also extend the life of the unit itself.

There are even options out there that include timers so that they will activate and deactivate on their own based on settings that you input.

Conclusion

So, to recap, the key to saving money on a space heater is to get a low wattage electric unit. The type you get (convection, fan-powered, etc.) is secondary. If it has a low wattage, and an economical power source, you will save money.

If you buy smart, you can enjoy all the warmth of a space heater, at a price that will never put a hurt on your wallet.


Header image credit: Steven Groves