As a homeowner, you may know the high costs of furnace use during the colder seasons. However, you may wonder if switching to a space heater can save you some money. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, but it can in many cases. Courtesy of the experts at Affordable Service Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Electric, here are some factors to consider when comparing the use of a space heater to your regular furnace:

House Size

The size of the room(s) where the space heater will be used or your home size, in general, matters. The heating units work best in enclosed spaces, meaning you’ll need multiple to heat anything more than a single room. Unfortunately, using multiple space heaters may not result in cost savings in the long run. It could cost you more than a typical single furnace, as “using space heaters to heat rooms is rarely as efficient as a central heating system, says the Alliance to Save Energy, an advocacy group.” The savings can be there for a single room and small apartment, but for a family home, probably not.

Usage Time

We do not recommend using a space heater for more than five hours a day and definitely not overnight, regardless of room or wattage. Doing so can lead to potential danger. In fact, the US Department of Energy reports that approximately 25,000 house fires per year are caused by space heaters, resulting in over 300 fatalities. Not to mention that keeping it running all day would nullify any potential savings. However, using it for a few hours daily during the early mornings or late evenings could help reduce your energy costs.

Power and Temp Settings

Similar to furnaces, space heaters come in various sizes and power settings. Many small space heaters use 1,500 W per hour at full power and may use as little as 300 W an hour on their lowest setting. To calculate an estimated cost for whatever space heater you use (or plan to), use the formula below:

  1. Multiply (Unit Wattage) by (X hours of use) = A.
  2. Multiply A by your electricity price rate per kilowatt hour = B.
  3. Divide B by 1000.

Example: A 1,500-watt (space heater rating) x5 (average daily hours) = 7,500 watts or 7.5 kilowatts of electricity daily. 7.5 kilowatts x .16 cents per kilowatt hour* = $1.20 per day. Every month, the cost of running a typical household space heater for 5 hours per day for 30 days would equal $36.00.

Also, if you plan to use a space heater to boost the heating in a small apartment or a single room, setting the thermostat can impact the amount of money you save on your energy bills. To save significant money, you must turn down the thermostat for the rest of your home. Considering space heaters, it’s important to note that their cost-effectiveness depends on your situation. A furnace may still be more efficient if you live in a large home or need to heat an entire area for an extended period. However, if you only need to heat a small room briefly, using a space heater may be the more cost-effective option.

At Affordable Service, we understand that everyone wants to lower their monthly energy costs. That’s why we offer CarrierĀ® heating systems that can help you save on your energy usage. If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

*At the time of the writing of this blog, the 2023 PNM electrical rate in New Mexico was .16 cents per kilowatt hour.