Take the edge off of a chill, or warm your cold bones. From the frigid climate up north to the chilly temperatures in the south, an electric space heater can make all the difference. But how much electricity does a space heater use?
Are electric space heaters safe? What are some advantages and disadvantages of using your own personal electric furnace? We’ll explore all of that in this post.
How Much Electricity Does a Space Heater Use?
The first step in finding out how much energy your electric space heater uses (and what that might cost) is to find the wattage. This should be printed on the heater itself or in the owner's manual. Your electric heater wattage tells how much electricity is needed to power it.
Most electric heaters use 1,500 watts, but some are slightly less or slightly more. Let’s go ahead and assume you’ve got a 1,500-watt heater. Since 1,000 watts equals 1 kilowatt, that means your heater uses 1.5 kilowatts of power.
However, your electric bill is measured in kilowatt hours, which is the amount of energy used while running a 1-kilowatt appliance for one hour. To figure out how much using that 1.5-kilowatt electric heater will cost, use this formula.
Multiply the number of watts your electric heater uses by the number of hours you plan on using it. For this example, let’s say you’d like to keep the living room toasty on a Saturday set aside for reading. So, we’ll say 8 hours.
1,500 x 8 hours = 12,000
Now divide this number by 1,000.
12,000 / 1,000 = 12
Next, multiply this number by the rate your utility charges for electricity.
(If you have solar, you might be able to skip this last part. You could produce the electricity yourself with your solar panels. But the first steps will help you understand how much power will be devoted to your heater.)
For the sake of example, let’s say your utility company charges $0.28 for electricity. In this case, we’ll finish the calculation like so.
12 x .28 = 3.36
So there you have it. For a day of luxurious reading in a warm room, it might cost you around $3.36.
Curious about how to keep track of your electricity usage? Read this post on how to read an electric meter.
Pros and Cons of Using an Electric Heater
Aside from how much electricity it requires to use a space heater, here are some savings and safety tips to keep in mind.
Are you thinking about using a space heater to save money? That works if you turn down the central heat through the rest of the house and use the portable heater in one room for a limited time. But if you’re turning up the electric heater in addition to blasting the gas furnace, or just leaving the electric heater on all the time, costs can add up fast.
Electric heaters are more efficient than gas heaters overall. This is because a central furnace tends to leak heat as it distributes through a home’s air ducts. An electric furnace can heat up one room pretty nicely, especially if the windows are well sealed and the space is well insulated.
Electric heaters definitely have the upper hand over older portable heaters, such as kerosene heaters, because they don’t produce any fumes.
Types of Electric Heaters and Safety
The most common electric heaters are
- Coil heaters
- Infrared heaters
Coil electric heaters conduct electricity through metal coils and radiate the heat produced through the room. Infrared heaters use the electromagnetic energy of infrared radiation.
Both of these types of heaters are safe, but shouldn’t directly contact flammable materials such as cloth, bedding, paper, or wood. Heat can combust flammable materials like these. Another fire safety tip is to invest in a new quality electric space heater rather than digging that old one out of grandma’s attic. For energy efficiency, get one with a timer or thermostat so you don’t overheat the room.
Don’t sleep with an electric heater on, just in case anything should happen with the wiring or heat source. If it’s a newer model, and you don’t have any known electrical issues, you’re probably OK. But just to be safe, stick to using your electric heater during the day.
Some people have reported damage to their skin or eyes with prolonged exposure to infrared electric heaters. But you can avoid this by not sitting too close to the heater. And no need to gaze into the glowing red light of an infrared electric heater. That’s where your feet go, anyway.
Curious about other appliances and electricity usage? Find out how much electricity a ceiling fan uses in this article.