When space heaters make cents


During cooler months many people find their energy consumption and bills increasing. Here at FPU, we get a lot of questions about ways to lower utility bills during cold weather. Many people turn to the use of electric space heaters in order to stay warmer while keeping their thermostats low. But, if you're not careful a space heater can increase your electric bill (and your risk of a fire). 


Electric space heaters are all 100-percent efficient at turning electricity into heat, but two or three in your home can cost you. Most space heaters are 1500 watts. If you’re operating a space heater 8 hours a day and your rate is $0.09 per kWh= (1500 watts X 240 hours/month X $0.09)/1000 =$32.40/ month per heater. 


Be mindful of the costs that these little heaters can add to your electric bill. An energy advisor in Portland, Michigan, shared, “During an energy audit, I found three 1,500-watt heaters in the house of a co-op consumer with a high bill complaint. I did a cost analysis for him, and he was shocked.”


Generally, it is best to run a space heater when you need to heat just one or two rooms or if you need temporary heat in a normally unheated area like a garage or shed. If you have a particularly cold-sensitive person in the home, it can be more efficient to use a space heater in the room he or she most often occupies rather than overheating the whole house.


If a space heater is right for you, remember a few things to save energy and money:

If you’re using a space heater to heat the one or two rooms you use most, turn down your central heating so you don’t heat up rooms you aren’t using.

Close doors to rooms that are being heated to avoid heat loss.

Turn off the heater when not in use, or get a space heater with a timer feature.

Purchase a heater with thermostat settings, and use the lowest setting you are comfortable with.

Select a space heater that is the right size for the space you need to heat; most will have a sizing table on the box.





If you need a space heater to keep your home comfortable, this may be a sign that your home needs insulation or air-sealing, both of which can be great investments and significantly reduce your energy bills. You can consider simple, short-term measures:

  • Replace weather stripping around drafty doors and windows.
  • Hang thermal curtains or blankets or install window film.
  • Use rugs to cover uncarpeted floors.


In the longer term, increasing your home’s insulation or switching to a more efficient heating system such as a ductless heat pump can be more cost-effective solutions. Download the eScore mobile app to complete a self-audit to help you figure out the best measures to take to keep your home comfortable.