Space Heaters

Space heaters are rarely used as the primary heating source

If you are using a space heater in addition to your regular heating system, it is not saving you money. It is increasing your electric bill and you will still pay for the heating of other rooms in your house. You would need to turn down the rest of the rooms you are not using to minimal levels and just heat the one room you are in.

Three main types of space heaters are available, which can usually be bought for $25 to $400: radiant heaters, convection heaters and combination heaters. The more you pay for a space heater does not mean it is more energy efficient. They all use the same 1500 watts per hour and give off the same 5,120 BTU’s per hour. These are the facts! Do not be misled by claims that they will save money.

Radiant Heaters: A radiant heater heats objects and people, not the air, in a room. They are best used in rooms where the person who wants to be warmed can be in direct line of sight of the heater. Radiant heaters can be a good choice if you are in a room for a short period of time and want instant heat. They can pose a burn or fire risk and should not be placed near furniture, drapery, pets or small children.

Convection Heaters: Convection heaters are designed to heat the air, not people or objects in a room. Hot air from the convection heater rises to the ceiling and forces cooler air to the floor. The cooler air is warmed by the heater and rises to the ceiling, creating a cycle that continues as long as the heater is on. These are typically either baseboard heaters or oil or water filled heaters. The oil or water filled heaters are the most efficient and typically look like a small radiator. Convection heaters are generally warm to the touch and compared to a radiant heater, have a decreased fire and burn risk.

Combination Heaters: As the name implies, a combination heater tries to bring the best of the radiant and convection heaters into one package. They often have an internal fan that aids in distributing heat throughout the room. These heaters are versatile and more common as a result, although they do not typically perform as well as a radiant or convection heater.

Before purchasing a space heater 
Determine how and where the heater will be used and whether a radiant, convection or combination heater will do the job best. Combination units are versatile, but you will most likely get better performance from a radiant or convection heater. Use a radiant heater if you want heat instantly and will not move from one spot. If you need to warm an entire room, a convection heater should do the trick.

Use the formula below to determine what the monthly cost of operating a space heater will be before you plug it in:

Example for a 1,500 watt space heater:
(1,500 watts ÷1,000) x 24 hours x 11.03 cents (REA’s rate Sept – May) = $3.97
(wattage divided by 1,000) x hours used x cost per kWh = cost per day
To calculate a monthly cost, multiply your cost per day by number of days in the month.

Example: $3.97 x 30 days = $119.10. This is your cost per month.

Bottom line: space heaters are convenient, but can be expensive to use!