This winter has seriously challenged those of us trying to keep our toes warm and toasty. Polar Vortex or not, finding the right space heater can be a great way to ease the bitter cold. What about high electric bills? Do space heaters save money? Arming yourself with the right choice for your living situation can provide blissful warmth without emptying your bank account. Let’s take a look at how a savvy purchase can accomplish both.
Space heater safety tips
A smartly placed space heater can make up for lousy indoor heating, or allow you to turn down the heat in the rest of your home. However, turning on space heaters in several rooms is not a substitute for adequate central heating. Find the one or two spots where you need extra heat, and figure out how much space needs to be warmed. Some models are appropriate for larger rooms, while others are for small spaces. Remember that many models are designed to be easily moved. And for safety, when you aren’t in the room, unplug the unit.
Look for a model with thermostat features. If you can set it and forget it, the heater won’t waste energy bringing the room’s temperature to tropical levels.
Types of space heaters
Luckily for you, manufacturers have designed space heaters with multiple users and configurations in mind. However, when it comes to efficiency, look for these words: radiant, quartz, and oil.
Radiant heaters are typically the most efficient. They send infrared radiation through the air until it hits a solid object, like your clothing or a wall, so they directly heat the objects in the room—not the air. Quartz is a material often used by radiant heaters.
Oil-based models heat an internal liquid, so while they heat up more slowly, their heat lasts longer and doesn’t require constant power from the wall socket.
Here are three money-saving space heater models highly-rated by Viewpoints users:
Holmes HQH307 Tower Quartz Heater (Radiant heat)
Viewpoints Score: 94/100
Est. Price: $44.99
We’ve already spoken about Duraflame’s Infrared Quartz Heater, but if you are looking to pay less up front, the Holmes HQH307 Tower Quartz Heater brings quality radiant heat with a more modest price tag. Users gave the Holmes a score of 94/100 due to its ability to heat a room quickly and comfortably. Although it doesn’t have the advanced features of pricier models, the controls are simple to use and its light frame moves easily from room to room.
“This heater heated our master bedroom up in a matter of minutes. It kept us nice and warm all night and we used it as our main source of heat since we took out our furnace.” –AmyBeth52513, Reviewer since 2013
DeLonghi TRH0715 (Oil-based heat)
Viewpoints Score: 89/100
Est. Price: $44.99
Oil-based heaters provide safe, reliable warmth even to large rooms, which attracted many users to the DeLonghi TRH0715. Although it takes 20-30 minutes to fully feel its effects, this model’s simple, durable design heats a room even after it’s turned off, and users saw the upside on their electric bill.
“This thing works great!! It really puts out a lot of heat and heats the whole room. I never have to turn the heat up higher for this room now. Also, we just got our first gas/electric bill for the winter, and it was LOWER!!” —lobsterme, Reviewer since 2012
“We first bought one just so we didn’t have to have the heat on all through the day. It made sense to concentrate the heat on just the lived in areas. It worked so well, we bought a second one, nearly eliminating our need for gas heat at all! With gas prices like these, I’ll take it!” —wordgirl312, Reviewer since 2013
Bionaire BH3950-U (Micathermic)
Viewpoints Score: 95/100
Est. Price: $119.99
Mica-who? Powered mainly by heating thin sheets of mica stone, this relatively recent technology is a combination of 80 percent traditional coil-based heat and 20 percent radiant heat. Although a divergence from more conventional models, users found the Bionaire BH3950-U to be extremely lightweight and effective without driving up heating costs. Placing this unit in the right spot will warm you head to toe as you thank science for such a lovely innovation.
“I set this heater in our main area while keeping my whole house heater off. It has saved me so much in our electric bill. This heater is so quiet that you would never know its on and I Iike that the sides of the heater aren’t blazing hot.” —eshyde, Reviewer since 2010
Costly Calculation: How much will you pay?
As you shop for your space heater, pay attention to the power usage, usually measured in watts. Space heaters typically use between 750-2000 watts, and many models have settings to adjust this number. If you want to calculate how much a space heater will cost you for one day, find the kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate charged by your utility company and use the following equation:
(Watts × hours used) ÷ 1,000 × kWh rate
Use this equation and search for space heaters that use the efficient methods of heating mentioned above. Stick to that prescription, and you are ready to face cold forecasts with warmth in your home and dollars in your pocket.
Have you used a space heater to save money on your bills? Write a comment below and share your experience.