Do Space Heaters Work?

Sometimes, whole-house or office heat just isn’t enough to beat the cold. If you’ve found yourself shivering at home or in the office, you’ve probably considered getting a space heater. In addition to concerns about space heater efficiency, many people worry about safety, especially in areas with high traffic or children.

Fear not – space heaters, when used properly, offer great advantages, both in heating and saving money. By using your space heater efficiently and remembering a few tips, you’ll be able to save money and stay warm.

In this blog post we’ll explore the pros and cons of space heaters, the different types of space heaters, and the situations for which a space heater is appropriate.

Do Space Heaters Work?

The heat productivity and cost efficiency of your space heater depends entirely on how you use it. If you’re only wanting to supplement heat in one room or small area, the benefits of a space heater are well worth it. However, if your whole house or business heat just isn’t cutting it and you’ve got one in every room, well…that’s when the space heater efficiency drops significantly.

When Space Heaters Work

  • Supplemental Heat: Space heaters are designed to be a supplemental heat source. For this purpose, any type of space heater – whether gas, electric, or kerosene – will work well. If you need supplemental heat for employees in your place of business, infrared heaters or smaller, more compact electric heaters make a great option.
  • Single-Room Heating: Space heaters also work great for heating only the space you’re currently occupying. This works well if you’re wanting to leave the thermostat turned down to limit whole-house heat costs, or someone else likes the house a little colder than you do. This isn’t much more expensive if you limit space heater use to when you’re physically present in the room. Wearing layers can also help keep your heating output needs lower.

Choosing the right-sized space heater will greatly help you cost-to-heat ratio. If you’re only needing to heat a small area when you’re occupying it, a small infrared or portable electric heater will be your best bet. If you’re needing supplemental heat in an entire room, a gas or medium-sized electric heater makes the most sense. Kerosene heaters work well for large, well-ventilated areas, such as a garage or shop area.

When Space Heaters Don’t Work

  • Whole House Heat + Space Heater = Not Enough: If you notice that you’re using a space heater and still running your whole-house heat full-blast, perhaps consider a different method. If it’s too chilly to turn down your thermostat and only supplement with the space heater, a mini-split heat pump system or other alternative like a wall unit might be something to consider.
  • Complete Heat Source: Space heaters are not designed to be your only source of heat. Continuously running one as the sole heat source puts a lot of strain on your wallet. Whether you’re using an electric model that creates higher power costs, or a kerosene or gas model that can be dangerous in unventilated areas, space heaters are impractical as a complete heat source.

Types of Space Heaters & How They Work

The type of space you need to heat will factor largely into which model you’ll end up choosing. If it’s in a busy area or you have kiddos running around, you’ll probably want a model that’s cool to the touch and has automatic shut-off.

If you’re looking for a space heater for your office, a compact heater that fits under your desk is likely your best bet. Slightly larger spaces or rooms require a larger heater to make a difference without tacking too much extra onto your heating bill.

There are several different types of space heaters available, but the two types we carry at Total Home Supply are gas and infrared.

Infrared/Radiant Space Heaters

Image of Prestyl Flat Panel Infrared Heater

The Prestyl Flat Panel Infrared Heater

 

Infrared space heaters, also known as “radiant space heaters,” are a great option for cost and space-efficient heat in places of business or small homes. Generally designed as small, flat panels that will fit under a desk (perfect for warming feet!) or on a wall, infrared heaters feature a special technology that heats an object directly, as opposed to just the air around it. This mimics the heat of the sun and requires less energy to run.

Our pick: Prestyl Flat Panel Infrared Heater

Gas space heaters

Image of ProCom MNSD300TBABB 30000 BTU Vent Free Blue Flame Thermostat Heater

The ProCom MNSD300TBABB 30000 BTU Vent Free Blue Flame Thermostat Heater

Gas space heaters can be used with natural gas or propane and come in a variety of BTUs to help you heat various sized spaces. They come in vented or unvented styles and most are controlled by a thermostat and lit electronically (once again, no open flames). Units can either be mounted on a wall or left free-standing.

Our pick: ProCom MNSD300TBABB 30000 BTU Vent Free Blue Flame Thermostat Heater 

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Ventilation: Whether you’re burning natural gas or propane, unvented gas space heaters off-gas, much like the kerosene heaters, so the space you’re heating needs to remain well-ventilated. Unvented space heaters are not recommended for overnight or long-term use.
  • Unvented vs. Vented: Unvented gas heaters don’t vent exhaust outside, so they’re rated as more efficient when it comes to heat vs. cost. They’re also prone to add moisture to the air, so keep this in mind if you’re sensitive to high-moisture content or live in an already humid climate. Ventless heaters are rated for up to 30,000 BTUs, which means their use should be limited to smaller rooms and spaces for a few hours at a time. Vented heaters are slightly less heat efficient as they exhaust, but are better for less-ventilated living areas.

Conclusion

Space heaters can be a very effective and cost-efficient way to stay a little bit warmer in your home or business. Space heaters are generally designed with the intent to heat only the area you’re currently inhabiting, and are great for room-to-room use in places with multiple inhabitants, as room temperature preferences vary from person to person.

By keeping in mind the size of the area or room you need heated, the type of heat you’re looking for, and the fact that space heaters are designed to only be a supplemental source of heat, you can prevent high energy bills and keep your family or employees happy and toasty. Browse our heaters and you’ll be well on your way to a warmer winter.

Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert.

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