Space heaters are a great way to warm up a small area or to keep your feet warm and toasty in the evenings, but they are not designed to be your primary source of heat. Many people try to cut corners and save money on their home energy costs by heating one or more rooms with a space heater while turning back the temperature setting on the furnace thermostat. But, does it really make financial sense to do so? The answer depends on your individual circumstances.
House Size Matters
Space heaters work best in enclosed spaces. If your home has an open floor plan or the area you want to heat is more than half the size of the home, a space heater isn’t likely to save you energy. Because heating an area with electricity costs about double what heating the same area with propane does, trying to use the electric space heater to heat the equivalent of half the home won’t save you any money. In fact, if you use the space heater in too large an area, it may actually cost you more to heat your home.
Space Heater Temperature Settings
Most space heaters have multiple settings controlled by a thermostat. At full power, many small space heaters use 1,500 W per hour and may use as little as 300 W an hour when running on low. How you set the thermostat can have an impact on whether using a space heater will save you money on your energy bills. According to Consumer Reports, to realize significant savings you will also need to turn the thermostat back for the rest of the home.
Hours of Use
How many hours a day you operate your space heater is also a big factor in whether you will save money on your energy bill. Running the space heater at full power all day to keep a seating area warm and toasty while the furnace works hard to keep the rest of the home warm isn’t likely to translate to lower energy costs.
Let’s Do the Math
According to Consumer Reports, you can get a good estimate of the what it will cost you to run one 1,500-Watt space heater:
- Multiply the number of hours of use each day by 1,500 W (or the number of KW your space heater uses per hour).
- Multiply this number by the cost of your electricity in Kilowatts per hour.
- Divide this number by 1,000 to find the cost of running your space heater per day.
To calculate weekly or monthly costs, multiply the cost per day by the number of days in a week or month. Compare these costs to your typical energy costs to determine how much you will save by using a space heater.