The debate between space heaters and central heat is one that many homeowners face when trying to stay warm during the colder months. There are pros and cons for both, but which one is the more cost-effective option?

In this article, we will explore the differences between space heaters and central heating systems, looking at factors such as cost, efficiency, and energy consumption.

Comparing Space Heaters and Central Heating Systems

When it comes to efficiency and cost, both space heaters and central heating systems have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

The key is to understand the factors that impact each system’s performance and how they apply to your specific needs.

Space Heater Vs Central Heat Cost

Space heaters can be cheaper to run in certain situations, such as heating a single room or when energy prices are high.

However, they can become less cost-effective when used to heat an entire home, especially if they are not energy efficient.

Central heating systems are usually more expensive to install and maintain, but they can provide even heat distribution and better overall comfort.

Heating MethodInstallation CostOperating CostEnergy Efficiency
Space HeaterLowModerateVaries by model
Central HeatHighModerate to HighDepends on system
  • Installation Cost: Space heaters have a low upfront cost compared to central heating systems, which can be expensive to install or upgrade.
  • Operating Cost: Space heaters can have a moderate operating cost, especially when used in smaller rooms. Central heating systems can have moderate to high operating costs, depending on the type of fuel used and the efficiency of the system.

Energy Consumption

Space heaters tend to use more electricity per square foot than central heating systems.

This means that if you are using multiple space heaters to heat your entire home, the energy consumption could be higher than that of a central heating system.

However, if you only need to heat a small room or area, a space heater could be more energy-efficient than using central heat.

Furnace of a central heating unit

Making the Right Choice

To determine whether a space heater or central heat is more cost-effective for your situation, consider the following factors:

  1. The size of the space you need to heat: If you only need to heat a small room or area, a space heater might be more cost-effective. On the other hand, if you need to heat an entire home, central heating may be the better option.
  2. Energy prices in your area: If electricity is expensive in your region, central heating systems that use natural gas or oil may be more cost-effective than electric space heaters.
  3. The efficiency of your central heating system: Older, less efficient central heating systems may be more expensive to run than space heaters. In this case, upgrading your central heating system or using space heaters for supplemental heat could be more cost-effective.

Central Heating: A Closer Look

Central heating systems heat an entire home or building using a single source. This source is typically a furnace, which uses fuel such as natural gas, oil, or electricity to generate heat.

The heat is then distributed through ducts, pipes, or radiators to different rooms.

Advantages of central heating include even heat distribution and the ability to control the temperature for the entire home.

However, they can be expensive to install and maintain, especially if the system is old or inefficient.

The cost of running central heat depends on several factors, including the type of fuel used, the efficiency of the system, and local energy prices.

Generally, natural gas and oil systems are less expensive than electric heating systems, but this can vary depending on the region.

Space Heaters: An Overview

Space heaters are portable devices designed to heat a specific room or area. They come in various types, such as electric, propane, or kerosene heaters.

These devices can be energy efficient and cost-effective when used correctly, but they can also be a safety hazard if not used properly.

The main advantage of space heaters is that they provide focused, targeted heat, which can be helpful for warming specific rooms that are not well-served by central heating.

However, they can be less efficient when used to heat an entire home, especially in larger spaces.

The cost of running a space heater is influenced by factors such as the type of heater, energy efficiency, and electricity prices.

In general, electric space heaters are less expensive to operate than propane or kerosene heaters, but their efficiency may vary depending on the model.

Is It Possible For A Space Heater To Provide Sufficient Heat For The Specific Size And Number Of Rooms In My Home?

A space heater can effectively heat a small room or specific area, but its ability to heat multiple rooms or larger spaces will depend on factors such as the heater’s power output, the size and insulation of the rooms, and the layout of your home.

To determine whether a space heater will effectively heat the size and number of rooms you have, consider the following:

  1. Heater’s power output: Space heaters are available in different wattages, which determine their heating capacity. As a general rule, you’ll need about 10 watts of power per square foot of space. For example, a 1,500-watt space heater would be suitable for a 150-square-foot room.
  2. Room size and insulation: Larger rooms and spaces with poor insulation will require more heating power. If your rooms are large or poorly insulated, a single space heater may not be sufficient to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  3. Layout of your home: Open floor plans may allow for more efficient heat distribution from a space heater, while homes with multiple smaller rooms may require additional heaters to maintain consistent temperatures throughout.

Tips for efficient heating

  • Use programmable thermostats to regulate the temperature in your home and reduce energy consumption.
  • Insulate and seal your home to prevent heat loss.
  • Regularly maintain your heating system to ensure optimal performance.
  • Choose energy-efficient space heaters if you decide to use them for supplemental heat.

Is A Space Heater Cheaper Than Gas?

The cost of heating depends on several factors, including the size of the space, the outside temperature, and the cost of fuel or electricity in your area.

Gas heating typically uses natural gas or propane, which is often less expensive than electricity.

However, the cost of using a space heater depends on its wattage, the cost of electricity in your area, and how long you use it each day.

To calculate the cost of using a space heater, use the formula cost per hour = (wattage ÷ 1000) x cost per kilowatt-hour.

The cost per hour of using a 1500-watt space heater at $0.15 per kilowatt-hour is $0.225. Using the space heater for 8 hours per day would cost approximately $1.80 per day.

In comparison, the cost of using a gas heater depends on the cost of natural gas or propane in your area and the efficiency of the heater.

Gas heaters can be more efficient than electric heaters, but they can also require more maintenance and may not be as convenient to use.