When Should You Use A Space Heater To Heat Your Home?

The first cold snap of each winter, most stores will sell out of space heaters. Even in a world of central heating and cooling, these small, portable devices are immensely popular. You are looking for the most efficient way to heat their homes, but is this the answer to their problems?

What Kind of Heater do You Have?

If you have a gas or propane burning heater, these methods are actually very efficient heaters for heating your home. While it might not seem like it when you get the bill, it is best to simply let your central air do its job. If your home is not sealed properly, your bill will go up significantly, but this is not a problem that a space heater is going to solve for you. You need to have an energy audit and have a professional come in and seal the leaks.

Some homes, particularly in warmer climates use a heat pump to both heat and cool the home.This heat pump is only going to be efficient down to a certain temperature. Past that point, and your energy bill will skyrocket. In border areas, this can be mitigated by installing a system with a backup heat source, usually electric, If you are relying solely on a heat pump and there is a cold snap, a space heater might actually save your wallet.

How Much Space Are You Trying to Heat?

Space heaters have no way to move air around your home like central heating can. This means you will need several of them to heat an entire home with space heaters, each one driving up your electric bill. This is why they are never recommended for day to day use. Even if you invest in one big enough to heat your whole house, you will need to run the fan for your HVAC system to get it to circulate the hot air throughout the house.

If you can close up all but a few rooms in the winter, then you might actually want to use a space heater to heat those rooms. Unless you invested in zone based heating, your central air will be very unhappy if you shut almost all of the registers. Instead, turn the thermostat way down, so it keeps the rest of the house just warm enough to keep your pipes from freezing and tightly shut and seal the doors for the unused rooms. Once that is done, you can use your space heater to bring the remaining rooms up to a more comfortable temperature.

How Much are You Willing to Invest?

If you are just looking to keep your toes warm in the office, a small heater will suffice. On the other hand, if you are looking for something that can heat several rooms up to a cozy temperature, cost is far more of a concern. In a lot of ways, you get what you pay for, but you still need to ensure that you are investing in the features that will work best in your home.

  • Electric space heaters are the safest to use, but more expensive to run. This is because there is no risk of having dangerous gasses released in your home.
  • Radiant heaters do not have a fan to push the warm air out into a room, but they cost less to operate. They are ideal if you will be staying near the heater at all times.
  • Read the wattage usage on each unit you are considering. They should also give you an approximate square footage that the heater can handle. While heating more space is going to take more power, there are some energy efficient units available that try to reduce the electricity usage.

Space heaters are mostly for backup heat where your central air can't reach. However, there are a few times where using a space heater is actually the best option. Click here to find a good HVAC professional to give you advice and services as you need them. 

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