When Do Space Heaters Save Money?
During the colder months of the year, everyone leans on their heating systems more to stay warm. Even for those of us who make an effort to use energy efficiently, low temperatures often lead to using a heat pump for longer periods of time and having higher electric bills than at other times of the year.
Members often turn to space heaters as a convenient solution for warming drafty parts of their homes or to provide a little extra warmth. But for those using space heaters as a way of saving money, it could be more efficient to rely on their HVAC system.
According to the Department of Energy, the amount of energy your space heater uses, its age and the efficiency of your heating system are all variables that can have a major impact on which option is best for your home.
Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb is that space heaters can be an efficient choice for heating a single room or small space. If there is one area of your home that always seems a little colder than others, or if you’re just looking for a little extra heat, a space heater can be an efficient alternative to raising the temperature in your entire home.
However, using space heaters in every room as a way to replace your home’s central heating system is much less efficient and can lead to paying more on your monthly electric bill. In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that, on average, using an HVAC system costs less than half of what it would take to heat a home or business using portable heaters.
If you’re having trouble keeping your home warm, consider looking into more permanent fixes to conserve heat before using space heaters. Plugging areas of your home where warm air may be escaping with weatherstripping or upgrading your heating system if it isn’t functioning properly can help you save money while staying warm.
Space heater energy tips
In certain situations, space heaters can be a good option for staying warm in cold parts of your home. If you do use a space heater, keep these steps in mind to get the most savings:
- Buy a space heater that is made to heat a room about the size of the one where you plan to use it to avoid using more energy than you need.
- Compare wattages between similar models to see which one is more efficient.
- Look for a thermostat or timer setting that can save energy while keeping the room from becoming overheated.
- If you’re using the space heater, turn down the thermostat on the central unit to avoid doubling up on your heating costs.
- Follow all safety instructions associated with your space heater and never leave your heater unattended.