Do Space Heaters Use a Lot Of Electricity?

Turning up the heat in the winter months is vital for your health and comfort.

Whatever your plans are for the day, you must figure out a way to stay warm to avoid hypothermia, frostbite, chilblains, dry skin, and other quite serious implications that can occur.

The easiest solution to warm up a room is a space heater. These heating systems can help you stay comfortable during winter if you want to limit the use of your central heating system or want a device to heat a specific zone.

One of the primary concerns in terms of heating a home is the cost. Many homeowners are concerned that space heaters use a lot of electricity and may still become a costly option or make them dread getting their monthly energy bills.

This is partly true considering that heating and cooling account for almost half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home.

To determine if a space heater will be a viable option for heating your home, you need to calculate how much it’d cost you to run the unit.

How Much Does an Electric Heater Cost to Run?

Before you can calculate the average amount you will spend to run your space, it’s important to understand that different heaters require different amount of electricity to perform their tasks.

Moreover, the amount of energy a space heater uses depend on the type and style of the heater – it has nothing to do with the efficiency. If you use any lower-wattage heater as per the manufacturers instructions, it may just be efficient than a high-wattage heater that is used improperly.

With that out of the way, how much will it really cost to run an electric heater?

Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this age-old question since many variables come to play.

You need to consider factors such as the outside temperature, temperature you need to heat your room to, size of your room,type of insulation behind your walls, your room spacing, your local electricity rate,etc..

In order to come up with a definite answer to help you figure out the total amount you’ll be spending to run your heater, let’s assume some things:

You run your space heater constantly for an hour (remember, this isn’t going to happen if your space heater is rightly sized for your room). The thermometer will do it’s job of turning the heater on/off depending on the temperature of the room. You can read further on how to turn on the heater in a house.

The wattage of your heater/the number of wattage the heater requires ( this number is usually embossed on the heater, but we’ll assume the number is 1500-watts).

Your local electricity rate. Here in Atlanta, the average electricity rate is 9.29¢/kWh.

The equation for calculating the cost per hours is:

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Total Cost/Hour = kW x Electricity rate

We need to convert 1500-watts into kilowatts by dividing it by 1000. The answer is 1.5, and that is the amount of electricity your heater uses to heat your room every hour.

From the formula, we will multiply this number by 9.29 to determine how much it will cost you to run your space heater for an hour straight.

1.5 x 9.29 = 13.94 cents or $0.14 or $3.34 if it runs constantly for 24 hours


Remember, this is only a simplified method of estimating how much you’ll spend to run your space heater every day.

As I had mentioned, you need to consider all the factors I had mentioned before. They can affect your energy usage in a great deal as they prevent specific estimations.

Here is why you should care about these factors

Factors Affecting Energy Usage of your Heater

The size of the space you want to heat

The size of the room you want to heat will definitely have an impact on the amount you spend to run your heater. When choosing a heater for your room size, don’t let its physical dimension fool you because that’s not what matters, but rather its heating capacity.

Your space heater will only be efficient, and lower your operating cost, if you select it based on the size of the room that needs cooling.

If you choose a space heater that is too powerful for the room you want to warm, the room will be heated too fast and when that happens, you’ll be forced to open the windows and doors to let in some cold air to regulate the temperature.

On the flip side, if the heater has a low cooling power compared to what is required for the room, the unit will take long hours to heat the room, and even then it may not reach the intended temperature to keep you comfortable.

Outdoor temperature: different season, different situation

Heating consumption will vary between the four seasons, and some situations will also play a part.

We can all agree that you’ll run your space heater quite often during winter than in summer. That means that your electricity bills will shoot high as well.

Heating usage will also vary from one region to another for the same type of home. This is because some regions experience longer and colder winters than the next and vice versa.

Another scenario is your bills increasing even when you haven’t changed your thermostat settings. Well, that’s perfectly normal. When the outside temperature drops, your indoor temperatures drop too. It, therefore, forces your heater to work much harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. That means, it’ll consume more energy.

Your homes characteristics

Is your home insulated? Do you have any air leaks? What’s the position, size, and the number of your windows and doors?

If you have poorly insulated walls, roof spaces or damaged foundations, chances are you’ll lose up to 40% of heat in your home, which eats into your electricity bill. On the other hand, a well-insulated house is more economical and comfortable.

You’ll also lose 25% of heat if you have air leaks. You’ll also waste the same 25% of heat depending on the position, size, and number of windows and doors you have.

How often you run your space heater

Some homeowners run their space heater even when they’re not at home. If that’s you then you’ve probably realized that you spend a lot of money to heat your home.

The more often you run your heating system, the higher the electricity bills.

Tips for Saving Money with a Space Heater

By now, you already know that space heaters use a lot of electricity. However, there are some important guidelines which you can follow to save money.

  • Tips for Saving Money with a Space HeaterHeat only the room you’re using – if you use a specific room more often, like your bedroom, you can save a lot of money on your heating bills by heating that room. This heating strategy, usually known as zone heating is an excellent option if you use space heaters.
  • Only run space heater when it’s necessary – there’s no point in leaving your space heater on when you’re not in the house. You can lower energy use and keep money in your pocket by heating your home when you’re there or when you necessarily need some warmth.
  • Turn down the thermostat – first, you want to make sure you have a smart thermostat installed. Thermostats are meant to check the temperature inside your room a few times per hour. If you reduce your thermostat setting by a degree, you can save up to 3% on your heating cost. The ideal temperature you need to lower your thermostat to is 62 degrees. This can help you save about $200 of your total heating cost if you supplement your central heating system with a space heater.
  • Choose programmable space heater– these types of units include advanced features not only to give you more control over heater operation but save energy as well. One important feature to look for is a programmable thermostat that enables you to set your desired temperature as well as schedule when to switch the heater on/off. This can help you reduce heating wastage and only heat your home when necessary.
  • Choose heaters with good energy rating – first, make sure your heater has an energy saving mode. This feature is designed to keep you warm and comfortable while reducing overall energy consumption. Then ensure the rating is something you consider efficient considering how much you’re willing to spend running it.
  • Choose infrared heaters – of all the different types of heaters; infrared heaters have proven to be the most energy efficient. They produce heat much faster and great for personal use.

Last Words

Heaters can help you stay warm and comfortable during winter. While space heaters use a lot of electricity, they’re still the better option if you intend to heat specific zones in your home. All you have to do is to follow the guidelines as prescribed by the manufacturers.

Just make sure you take into consideration some of the tips I’ve pointed out in this post. One important advice you should not forget is to calculate the size of the room you wish to heat. Also, decide whether to use your space heater to heat the entire room or personal use.

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Jesse Pinkman is a passionate HVAC professional writer who grew up repairing any home appliance on which he could lay his hands. He is responsible for ensuring that every article we publish is SPOT ON. When he's not in the office, he enjoys hiking, watching football, and spending time with his family.