Are you using a space heater?
As the colder months approach, you may be considering trying to lower your overall energy bill by supplementing your HVAC system with a portable electric space heater. When used properly, such as for temporary zone heating, electric space heaters can be effective, but you also need to understand how your energy bill may be affected if you choose to use one.
How much will my bill go up?
The short answer…the typical electric space heater could add $125.00 to your electric bill if it runs non-stop for a whole month.
How is that possible?
If you look at the name plate on a space heater (all electrical devices are required to have an electric data name plate), you will find that most plug-in or portable electric space heaters are rated at 1500 watts. 1500 watts equals 1.5 kilowatts, which means that for every hour that the 1.5 kilowatt space heater is on, it will make your electric meter register 1.5 kilowatt hours.
The problem with portable space heaters is that they are typically placed in a room with little or no heat and they are expected to heat the entire room. Once turned on, physics takes over. Hot air rises to the ceiling, while the thermostat on the space heater is on the floor, in the cooler air. As a result, a space heater will not be turned off by its thermostat until the entire room is heated to the desired temperature, including the floor level. The problem arises when a space heater cannot keep up with heating the entire room, therefore running constantly until it is unplugged or manually shut off.
If a space heater is placed in an area where it runs constantly, it will continue to use 1.5 kilowatt hours every hour. This equates to 24 hours x 1.5 kilowatt hours = 36 kilowatt hours per day. 36 kilowatt hours per day x 30 days = 1080 kilowatt hours per month. On average this adds over $125.00 to your electric bill to run a space heater non-stop for a whole month.
Energy savings are possible if portable electric space heaters are used correctly. For example, if you lower the central heating system’s thermostat and use a portable heater to keep a single occupied room comfortable for short time periods, you might achieve some savings. Floor plans, placement, insulation and running time are among the factors that determine if you can save money or if you will spend more money. So before investing in a portable electric space heater this winter, know what type is best suited for your needs and please consider the potential cost involved.
The Bottom Line
Before buying a space heater, it will be beneficial to take some easy and inexpensive energy- saving measures in your home. Any of these could solve your heating problems without any additional heating equipment:
- Add caulk and weather stripping around doors and windows.
- Add insulation to attics and exposed walls.
- Clean or replace furnace filters.
- Move furniture or obstacles away from heat registers.
- Insulate duct work.
- Close blinds or curtains at night.