What is the best, most cost-effective way to warm your home? Do you rely on a central furnace, use portable space heaters, or use a combination of the two? The simple (yet never helpful) answer is “it depends”, but we will help you determine which approach is best for you.
Gas-powered furnaces heat a home significantly more efficiently than electric portable heaters. In fact, it is about four to five times more expensive to heat any given area with an electric portable heater than with a gas-powered furnace. Even though electric portable heaters are less efficient, they still have benefits that make them useful in certain cases.
If you have a large home, but only one room of that home is being occupied, then you may want to consider an electric portable space heater. The first thing you should do is turn down the thermostat, so you are not warming the unused areas of your home.
Next, you want to make sure you are using a portable heater that is designed to heat the right amount of space. You don’t want a heater that heats more space than you need, because this will waste money. A simple way to estimate the amount of space your heater can heat is to divide the number of Watts the heater generates by 10 to get the amount of square feet it can heat adequately. So if you have a 5,000 Watt space heater, then you should be able to heat a 500 square foot room. If the room you are heating is less than 500 square feet, then you definitely want a smaller space heater.
Safety is very important when you consider the use of a space heater. In fact, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires are started each year as a result of portable space heaters. Be sure to purchase a new space heater with all of the current safety features and one that has the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
Also, look for electric space heaters with automatic shut off capabilities or temperature controls. You don’t want to continue to pay to heat a room if you are not in it or heat the room more than you need. Plus, for safety reasons, it’s never a good idea to leave a space heater on when the room is left unattended or if you fall asleep.