If you only want to heat one or a couple of rooms at a time, space heaters are more efficient than central heating. This is even more true if you live in a climate that makes a central heating system a white elephant 50 weeks out of 52.
“More efficient” doesn’t mean that these appliances aren’t energy hogs, though. Running a typical 1,500-watt heater consumes as much electricity as:
- twenty-five old-style lightbulbs,
- over a hundred energy-saving ones,
- three garbage disposals,
- ten 65″ LED televisions, or
- twenty-five ceiling fans.
In other words, if you’re currently setting your stereo volume to “low” in order to save electricity, you’re barking up entirely the wrong tree. Using your space heater efficiently will reduce your utility bills to a far greater extent, especially once you consider that these machines typically run for dozens of hours each week.
Still, when you’re shivering and your lips are turning blue, it’s far better to just turn on a space heater than continue to suffer. So let’s look at some ways of reducing its energy consumption without sacrificing comfort.
Choose the Right Kind of Heater for the Space
Once you start looking, you’ll soon see that every space heater isn’t made for the same purpose. All of them are designed to provide warmth, but the ways in which they work are actually quite different.
In general, they can be divided into two types: convection heaters which heat the air, and radiant ones that heat nearby objects.
Another important difference is that convection is the better choice for heating a space for a period of at least a few hours, while radiant works better for shorter periods. This applies both to reducing their total energy consumption and how well they actually improve your comfort level.
Energy-Saving and Safety Features
Another consideration is the power output of your new space heater.
This isn’t all that counts when reducing the energy consumption of a space heater, though. It’s definitely a good idea to get one with a thermostat, as this will prevent the machine from running when the room is already cozy.
In addition, a timer will come in handy when you forget to turn it off, while a remote control lets you adjust the power level without having to leave the comfort of your blanket.
It is really these features which make modern space heaters more energy efficient than older ones
Another reason to replace an old, cranky heater becomes more important if you have children or pets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 20,000 house fires per year are caused by malfunctioning or improperly used space heaters – it’s probably a good idea to spring for one with overheating, tilting, contact burn and other protection features. The best space heaters we reviewed have built-in safety measures.
Put on a Sweater Before You Turn on the Heat
Sometimes, your grandma’s solution to a problem really does work better than any modern gadget. In winter, walking around in shirtsleeves literally costs you money by increasing your space heater’s energy consumption.
Feet are especially important, as these body parts typically have the poorest blood circulation. Thick socks or trendy indoor shoes can work wonders. Did you know that microwaveable slippers are a thing? Technically, all slippers can be put in the microwave, but these will keep your feet warm afterward instead of melting or catching fire.
Do Some Interior Decorating
Aside from choosing a space heater that will fit in with your existing decor, whether classical or modern, there’s another aspect of your room’s appearance to keep in mind. A space decorated in warm colors like burgundy and orange automatically feels warmer, just like colorful food automatically tastes less bland.
When Jack Frost comes knocking, you may want to lay a few rugs in these shades on bare floors, simultaneously insulating them and improving the psychological temperature of the space. You can also stack a few snuggly blankets in a place easily accessible from the couch.
Use Alternative Heating Appliances
Considering how much electricity space heaters consume, they probably shouldn’t be your first resort in autumn months. Your ceiling fan, believe it or not, may be all you need. Hot air tends to collect at the top of a room, so circulating it actually makes you feel warmer. This is exactly what happens when you reverse a fan’s direction and let it run at the slowest speed.
Other options you’ll want to consider include heating pads, electric blankets, and hot water bottles. One of the best ways of cutting down your space heater’s energy consumption is to remember that the goal is to heat people, not necessarily the air around them.
Check Your Indoor Humidity
Strange as it seems, the reason tropical weather is so uncomfortable isn’t only because of the heat. Instead, moisture-laden air stops your sweat from evaporating and makes it feel hotter than it really is.
In winter, the air is dry and draws moisture out of your skin, leading to the opposite effect.
An indoor humidifier costs a great deal less to run than a space heater and may raise the apparent temperature by as much as 10 °F.
Do an Energy Survey on Your Home
If saving money is your priority, you probably don’t want to pay a professional several hundred dollars for telling you how. The good news is that you can do nearly as good a job yourself if you have a couple of hours to spare.
A good start would be to inspect the caulking around your windows, weather stripping around doors, and insulation all around the structure. Addressing any issues you find will cost at least some and potentially a lot of money, but will save you a lot more in the long run.
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An electric space heater can make visiting guests more comfortable, heat up an area of your home you use only occasionally, or – assuming that you have central heating installed – lets you keep the thermostat set low and save money overall. If you have a baby or elderly person living in your house, owning one is almost a necessity.
It’s important to remember that nothing, even comfort, comes for free. Turning on your space heater will most certainly impact your utilities bill. You may be surprised, however, at how much control you have over this increase. It really is possible to cut down on your space heater’s energy consumption.