Space Heaters are getting very popular these days. They are a cost-effective solution to counter the winter problem compared to conventional central heating systems. They are advertised as the all-in-one solution for the cold problem and are often the ultimate money saver. But are space heaters good at saving money as advertised compared to the central heating system? The comparison of operation costs between space heaters and the central heating system is very complex because both work on different energy principles. To compare them, a relevant benchmark is required.
In this article, we will discover a little information about the operating cost of space heaters and briefly analyze whether they will be a cheaper solution for your needs or you have to consider a different key and what would be suitable for you.
Comparison Between Space Heaters And Central Heaters
About half of the average electricity bill is contributed by heating or cooling the house in the United States. The central heating system, based on gas or electricity, is the most convenient way to regulate the home’s temperature. However, there are heating systems based on oil, propane, or even coal, but the energy is used to generate electricity which is then used to spread the heat throughout the house. These systems are highly inefficient, and most of the power is wasted in the atmosphere, making a massive loss to the cost and the environment. These types of heaters offer only 30% or more efficiency.
On the other hand, a gas furnace heater can offer an efficiency of 78% on average. The amount of energy generated by these heaters is measured in the BTU (British Thermal Unit). On average, every United States household consumes about 50 to 150 million BTU of energy in the winter season.
Space heaters are far more efficient machines and can produce heat with an efficiency of almost 100%. The energy requirement for electrical space heaters is measured in watts, and commonly, space heaters are available in 1500 watt settings.
Cost Of Space Heater Working
If you use your space heater for 10 hours a day, it will cost you around $60 per month for a single room. If you use the space heater in more than one room simultaneously, the number will multiply. The estimation is made on the standard 1500 watt space heater, which is enough to heat the room of 150 square feet. If you use a more robust space heater, the electricity bill would be completely different.
The cost of a space heater is directly proportional to the price per unit of energy in your area, and on average, a space heater uses 1.5 units of energy to work for 1 hour. This makes 15 units per day and 45 units per month if you use it for 10 hours.
Cost Of Central Heating
Most central heating systems are based on natural gas because of their easy availability and low pricing. Gas is sold at around $1.25/ therm, and one therm contains 100,000 BTU. For 1 million BTU, 10 terms are required, which cost about $12.5, and considering the efficiency of 78%, 1 million BTU of energy is available for $16. An average house needs the power of about 180,000 BTU per day to create a temperature difference of 10 degrees Fahrenheit from the outside temperature. This will cost about $87 per month from gas to increase the temperature of the whole house to relaxing levels.
It may seem like space heaters are a cheaper solution because they consume about $60 per month compared to $87 per gas heater. But there are lots of variables in these calculations.
First, the space heater calculation is done for just one room while the central heating system will provide energy for the whole house. Many other indirect factors must also be considered. The installation cost of a central heating system is very high, whereas, in space heaters, it is next to nothing because space heaters are mostly portable. Safety precautions like fire and smoke alarms are necessary with the central heating system, and they come with extra cost while in the space heaters, many safety features are pre-installed. Space heaters provide better temperature control than a central heating system, contributing to energy consumption.
From the above parameters affecting the operation cost, it can be said that space heaters are cheaper to run in selected environments.
Where Space Heater Is Cheaper To Run
In some areas, space heaters are cheaper to run than central heating systems:
- When you need to heat just one room rather than the whole house.
- When you intend to use the space heater for a limited time in a day.
- When your home is small, it can be heated by a space heater.
- When you plan to use it as a personal heater in the office or garage.
Where Space Heater Is More Expensive
While space heaters offer more options in terms of controls and temperature management, they are not the ideal choice in a situation like:
- When you plan to heat the whole house and are willing to buy a separate space heater for each room.
- When you use the space heater for more than half of the day or 24 hours a day.
We can say no single, definite answer to the question from the above discussion. But space heaters are a more popular choice because they can be employed readily in any circumstances, they are relatively safer than the central heating system, need no time to set up, are incredibly cheap to buy and run, offer more portability, can be used as personal heaters, and are best if you are willing to heat only a little area for a particular time in the day. But if you plan to use space heaters to heat the whole house, then it would be wiser to use the natural gas central heating system because it would be a lot more cost-saving option for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it cheaper to run a space heater or heat the whole house?
Space heaters are not magical products that produce heat without consuming any electricity. They consume about 1500 watts of energy. For comparison, a refrigerator uses 180 watts, and if you are trying to heat the whole house using space heaters, your electricity bills would be higher than space heater costs.
Are space heaters cheaper to run than the furnace?
The only advantage space heaters offer in terms of their operating cost is their flexibility of working. You can use the space heater in a single room for a selected time, and it will save you a lot of money, but if you use it as a central heating system, it would be a disaster.