Do Space Heaters Raise Your Electric Bill?

As winter approaches, many people consider using space heaters to provide extra warmth in their homes. But these portable heaters inevitably consume electricity, leading homeowners to wonder - will a space heater increase my power bills?
Ted Curley
Journeymen wiremen at US Electric-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Hello, I'm Ted Curley, a licensed electrician with a wealth of experience in the electrical field. I've launched this platform to share my extensive knowledge and insights with you. My journey in the electrical field spans over a decade, during which I have cultivated a deep understanding and expertise in...Read more

Ted Curley
Journeymen wiremen at US Electric-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Hello, I'm Ted Curley, a licensed electrician with a wealth of experience in the electrical field. I've launched this platform to share my extensive knowledge and insights with you. My journey in the electrical field spans over a decade, during which I have cultivated a deep understanding and expertise in...Read more

The short answer is yes, space heaters will raise your electric bill if used improperly or excessively. However, there are ways to use space heaters efficiently to minimize the impact on your utility bill.

As a licensed electrician with over 20 years of experience, I'm Ted Curley, owner of tedreviews.com. I've helped many clients evaluate their home energy use and I often get asked how much running a space heater will add to their utility bills. The answer depends on several factors. In this article, I'll discuss how space heaters work, how much electricity they use, and provide tips to minimize their impact on your power costs.

Key Takeaways

  • Space heaters can significantly increase electricity costs if used improperly or excessively.
  • The wattage of a space heater determines how much electricity it uses. Higher-wattage models cost more to operate.
  • Setting thermostats properly and using space heaters only when and where needed can reduce costs.
  • Insulating rooms, sealing air leaks, and maintaining proper humidity also minimize the need for space heaters.
  • Newer, Energy Star-rated space heater models are more energy efficient than older ones.

How Much Electricity Do Space Heaters Use?

First, let's look at how space heaters operate. There are several types:

  • Ceramic heaters use ceramic plates or coils that heat up when electricity passes through them.
  • Mica panel heaters use mica sheets over heating elements.
  • Quartz heaters use quartz tubes and reflectors to direct heat.
  • Oil-filled radiators use electric current to heat oil inside metal fins that radiate heat.

No matter the type, the wattage rating indicates how much electricity a heater draws. Standard models range from 600-1500 watts. The higher the wattage, the more heat it produces and the higher the operating costs:

  • 600-900W: Low power usage, good for small rooms
  • 900-1200W: Medium power for larger rooms
  • 1500-2500W: High power for big rooms or very cold climates

To estimate the cost of running a space heater, multiply the wattage by your local electricity rate. For example:

  • 600W heater at 10 cents/kWh would cost around 6 cents per hour to run
  • 1500W heater at 10 cents/kWh would cost around 15 cents per hour to run

While individual hourly costs seem small, they add up the more you use the heater. Running a 1500W heater 8 hours a day at 15 cents/hour would add $1.20 per day or $36 per month to your bill.

Tips for Minimizing Electric Costs

Here are some tips to reduce the impact of space heaters on your power bills:

1

Set thermostats wisely

  • Keep central heat at 68-70°F if possible
  • In rooms using space heaters, set to 65°F maximum
  • Turn the space heater off once the room hits the desired temperature
2

Choose the right size heater

  • Match heater wattage to room size (see wattage guide above)
  • Don't use high-wattage heaters in small rooms
3

Use zone heating

  • Only heat rooms you're actually using
  • Close doors and use heaters to warm individual rooms
  • Turn heaters off when leaving the room
4

Limit running time

  • Use heavy blankets/sweaters to stay warm
  • Run heater only during waking hours or when really needed
5

Look for energy-efficient models

  • Energy Star-rated heaters are the most cost-effective
  • Newer heater models tend to be more efficient
5

Weatherize rooms

  • Insulate walls, seal air leaks around windows/doors
  • Use insulating drapes or shades to retain heat
  • Keep humidity between 30-50% to feel warmer

With some adjustments and smart use, you can stay cozy and warm this winter without sending your energy bills through the roof. Focus on zone heating only occupied areas, layer up, and invest in an efficient Energy Star heater for the best results. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Comparing Operating Costs of Different Space Heaters

To demonstrate how electricity costs add up, here's a table comparing popular space heater types and wattages:

Heater TypeWattageElectricity Used if Run 8 hrs/dayDaily Cost @ 10¢/kWhMonthly Cost
Ceramic600W4.8 kWh$0.48$14.40
Ceramic900W7.2 kWh$0.72$21.60
Mica Panel1000W8 kWh$0.80$24
Infrared1500W12 kWh$1.20$36
Oil-filled1500W12 kWh$1.20$36

A few things stand out:

  • Higher wattage = higher costs: The 1500W models cost 2-3X more to run than the 600W version.
  • Time used matters: Running a heater all day costs around 3X more than just at night.
  • Costs add up: Using an infrared heater 8 hrs/day could add $36 to your monthly bill.

The best way to save is to heat only occupied rooms and turn the heater off when unnecessary.

Getting the Most Efficient Space Heater

If you've decided a space heater is the best option for your home, here are some tips for choosing an efficient model:

  • Look for an Energy Star rating – these meet EPA standards for efficiency.
  • Seek units with safety auto shut-off so they turn off if tipped over.
  • Choose the right size heater for the room to avoid over-powering.
  • Newer models tend to be more efficient as technology improves.
  • Get a programmable thermostat to set automatic on/off times.
  • Ensure it has tip-over and overheat protection.
  • Read reviews – they can provide real-world info on efficiency and value.
Explore further:  Top 10 Tower Space Heaters for Ultimate Comfort!

Some good-quality, energy-efficient models include

Lasko 754200 Portable Home Office Personal Electric 1500 Watt Ceramic Space Heater with 3 Heat Settings and Adjustable Thermostat (2 Pack)

 in stock
Amazon.com

Honeywell Compact Ceramic Tower Heater, Black – Compact, Small Heater with Big Heat – Ceramic Heater with Two Heat Settings

★★★★★
$54.99
$49.98
 in stock
Amazon.com
as of July 13, 2024 3:03 pm

Dr Infrared Heater DR998, 1500W, Advanced Dual Heating System with Humidifier and Oscillation Fan and Remote Control, Cherry

★★★★★
$189.99
$143.88
 in stock
Amazon.com
as of July 13, 2024 3:03 pm

Vornado MVH Vortex Heater with 3 Heat Settings, Adjustable Thermostat, Tip-Over Protection, Auto Safety Shut-Off System, Whole Room, Black

★★★★★
$69.99
$59.99
 in stock
Amazon.com
as of July 13, 2024 3:03 pm

Avoid older, dusty models as they tend to be energy hogs. Also, beware of very cheap heaters from obscure brands – they often have exaggerated wattage claims and may be fire hazards. Spending more upfront on a quality Energy Star model can provide more value and efficiency in the long run.

Maintaining Proper Home Humidity Levels

Here's one last tip to reduce space heater usage – maintain proper humidity levels in your home. Most homes become too dry in winter, which makes it feel colder.

The ideal humidity range for comfort is 30-50%.

Some ways to boost humidity:

  • Use humidifiers
  • Hang damp towels to evaporate moisture
  • Place bowls of water near heat sources
  • Don't over-ventilate or run exhaust fans too much

Monitoring humidity with a hygrometer is helpful. Adding moisture to the air makes it feel warmer so you won't need to run space heaters as much for comfort.

Proper humidity also benefits your health and protects wood furnishings from drying out. Like zone heating, it's one more way to increase efficiency and reduce energy costs in winter.

Conclusion

I hope this overview gives you a better understanding of how much electricity space heaters use and some practical tips to minimize their impact on your utility bills. The key takeaways are:

  • Match heater wattage to room size to avoid overkill.
  • Zone-heat only rooms you occupy and turn heaters off when leaving.
  • Use Energy Star-rated models and look for safety features.
  • Maintain 30-50% indoor humidity to feel warmer.
Explore further:  How Long for Space Heater to Heat Room

Stay cozy this winter and contact me anytime if you need advice on choosing efficient heating solutions for your home.

FAQ

Do space heaters work well in large open floor plans?

Space heaters are best for heating single rooms. For large open layouts, it's better to use your central heating system which is designed to circulate air throughout the entire home.

Should I get a space heater with a fan?

Fan-forced heaters distribute heat quicker throughout the room. However, they use more electricity than models without fans. Choose based on your needs but remember fan heaters have higher operating costs.

Is it safe to leave a space heater unattended?

Never leave a space heater running unattended or while sleeping. Always unplug and safely store the heater when not in use. Models with automatic shut-offs provide an extra safety measure if tipped over.

Should I use a space heater to supplement my central heat?

Yes, using a space heater to boost warmth in occupied rooms can take pressure off your main heating system. This helps it operate more efficiently. Just remember to turn off the space heater when leaving.

Are older space heaters as efficient as new models?

Generally not. Newer space heaters have more advanced energy-efficient technology. Replacing an old inefficient heater with a new Energy Star model can provide significant energy savings over time.
Ted CurleyJourneymen wiremen at US Electric-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Hello, I'm Ted Curley, a licensed electrician with a wealth of experience in the electrical field. I've launched this platform to share my extensive knowledge and insights with you. My journey in the electrical field spans over a decade, during which I have cultivated a deep understanding and expertise in various roles. Let me take you through my journey and my passion for electricity and space heaters. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at ted.curley@tedreviews.com

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