We’re up for expensive gas bills this winter. Every time I think about turning up the thermostat, I hear my dad’s voice telling me to put on another sweater instead. But when sweaters just aren’t enough, I turn to my trusted, cheap and easy-to-use heater. to reduce my central heating costs. But how much money do space heaters really save? Let’s look at some numbers to see if space heaters really are the most cost-effective option for you this winter.
The true costs of radiators this winter
Space heaters are certainly cheaper than increasing your central heating…assuming you only need the heat in one room at a time. But if you use radiators in several rooms at the same time, your electricity bill could suffer.
According to CNET, it costs about 20 cents an hour to run an average heater (1,500 watts). If you run it for eight hours, that’s about $1.60 a day. That works out to just under $50 per month, which isn’t too crazy.
However, that $50 assumes you only use one heater for about eight hours. Many Americans run their heaters all night or run them in rooms where they are not at the time. This has far more serious consequences than a heavy electricity bill: according to the US Department of Energy, Portable heaters are responsible for approximately 25,000 fires in the United States each year, resulting in approximately 300 deaths and around 6,000 emergency room visits. Despite the fire-risks, many users of space heaters operate them much longer than they are designed to be used.
In most parts of the country, the cost of electricity needed to heat a home exceed the cost gas heater to do the same job. The Energy Information Administration reports in its 2022-23 report Winter Fuel Outlook report this gas-heating households in the northeast and midwest are expected to pay between $1,000 and $1,100 for the season, while those in the west and south will shell out between $700 and $800. For electric heat, costs are expected to reach $1,400 to $1,700 in all regions except the South, where they will reach around $1,250.
As AirAce heating and air conditioning explains, a space heater will save you a few bucks if you only want to heat one room for a short time, but it’s “not a permanent solution” to reducing costs throughout your home.
The bottom line
Space heaters are a quick fix, not a primary source of heating. Once you need heat in more than one room, you better turn up your thermostat instead of turning on multiple radiators. Here is more about how to heat your house without accidentally burning it down.