Should I Heat My Home With a Space Heater?

The space heater is a common way many people heat a room. Instant heat is provided in a variety of ways and some companies claim that their product can energy efficiently heat an entire home. But is it true?

According to the Cooperative Research Network, they are not recommended to heat your home, but work best in unison with your existing heating system like a furnace or heat pump to increase overall energy efficiency.

Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters are commonly used in the space heating world. They heat objects in the room-people, furniture, etc.-and not the ambient air. These types of space heaters work best when you need to be quickly warmed in a cooler room. Radiant heaters work great for short periods of time when you need instant heat and not long term. When using any radiant heating device, always be sure that any children, pets, draperies or furniture is away from the radiant heating device as these can pose a risk for severe burns and fire hazards.

Convection Heaters

A convection heater works to heat the ambient air in a room. These are great for heating an entire room for long periods of time. When used with your existing heating system, they often help to maintain a constant temperature and increase the heating systems overall energy efficiency. Most convection systems are similar to a baseboard heater while some devices resemble a radiator heater. They are commonly filled with either oil or water to release the heat consistently.

Combination Heaters

Combination space heaters use an internal fan to distribute heat. These devices are more common in space heater design and are often cheaper as a result. They do not work as energy efficiently as convection or radiant heaters because they heat the surrounding air with a coil heating element, similar to a toaster oven.

The average space heater consumes around 500 to 1500 watts of energy when used. This roughly translates to a one to one ratio of energy consumption. In other words, if you use one watt of energy, you get one BTU of heat. Other systems like geothermal heat pumps provide three units of heat per watt of energy making them the most efficient heating source available. When space heaters are combined with energy efficient heating systems, they can really add up the energy savings when heating your home. While space heaters work great in unison with an existing heating system, they are not energy efficient enough to heat the home on their own.

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