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But it may not be right for every situation.

By James Dulley

An electric space heater can reduce your utility bills, but only if you lower the thermostat on your central heating system. In fact, a small heater might make sense if there only are one or two people living in your home, and you don’t need to keep vacant rooms warm.

Another common situation is when there’s a room that doesn’t stay warm enough. You could get chilly in that problem room and turn the central heating thermostat higher, which will warm (or overheat) the rest of the house. It’s much more efficient to use a small space heater in a room like this.

It’s important to understand that all electric space heaters are pretty much 100 percent efficient. This just means that all of the electricity a space heater consumes ends up as heat in your house, but it doesn’t mean the heater is cheap to operate.

Also, the maximum heat most small space heaters can safely produce is about 5,100 Btuh (Btu per hour). Homes typically have central heating systems with a capacity of 50,000 to 100,000 Btuh, so obviously a single space heater can’t heat an entire house. So, be wary of advertising that states a small electric space heater can allow your central system to run dramatically less often, resulting in a savings of 50 percent (or even more). 

There’s not a “best” electric space heater for every situation. The proper selection depends on the room and how you plan to use the heater. For example, are you looking for quiet heat in a bedroom at night, heat for just one person watching TV or will there be a group of people in a large room?

Radiant space heaters work quickly to warm you

This type of space heater uses a red-hot ribbon – long quartz or carbon tubes to produce infrared heat radiation similar to the sun's rays. The primary function is to heat objects and people directly in front of the heater, resulting in a very comfortable, effective heat.

Radiant heaters are quiet and ideal for heating a specific spot – for example, in your home office to keep you warm while you’re working on your computer. Your body and the furniture in the heater’s path gradually will re-radiate the heat, so the room air also will heat up slightly. For a larger area, select a model that oscillates.

Convection heaters heat the air in a room

This is often done using a built-in fan to circulate room air over the heating elements in the space heater. Another choice, an oil-filled, radiator-style heater, uses natural air circulation to move room air over the heat source, gently warming a room without bursts of heat. For a or family room, consider a convection-style heater, which will heat a large room more effectively than a radiant unit. Choose a model with a thermostat and multispeed fan to control the heat output.

A ceramic convection heater is a good choice when around young children. There are no red-hot ribbons, and if the airflow gets blocked, the heating output automatically drops. For a bedroom, where quiet operation is important, use an oil-filled radiator or a convection heater with a low-speed fan setting. Another option is a radiant model facing the bed, if you don't mind the red glow. A horizontally shaped space heater can heat the entire bed area.


These companies offer electric space heaters.

PHONE: 866-528-8323

Holmes Products 
PHONE: 800-546-5637

PHONE: 800-477-0457

PHONE: 800-233-0268

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