People with outdated HVAC systems are looking for more cost-effective ways to heat their homes during cold winter nights. Instead of hiking up their central heat and wasting a ton of money, many customers are relying on single-room space heaters for extra warmth in the rooms they use the most. Turn down your central heater and add one a portable heater to your living room or bedroom for efficient zone heating.
There are several factors to consider—such as heating needs, proper use, and safety—to make sure you stay warm without breaking the bank.
Determine Your Heating Needs
Before purchasing a portable heater, assess your heating needs. This will help you decide which heater is best for you and your family.
Gas Heaters vs. Electric Heaters
Electric space heaters produce warmth by converting electrical energy into heat. While gas heaters cost less to operate and heat their surroundings faster than their electric counterparts, they're generally ideal for outdoor or well-ventilated spaces. Electric heaters are safer to use indoors and warm rooms more efficiently, since valuable heat isn't lost during the combustion process. Furthermore, electric heaters do not negatively affect your indoor air quality, and there is no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Type of Heater
Next, find a space heater that is rated for the approximate square-footage or size of the room where you will be using it. Using a heater that is too small for your room causes it to work overtime to warm your space. Not only can this cause overheating, it also wastes energy and dramatically increases your energy bill. For example, a fan-forced heater generally warms whole rooms but can be louder than other heaters. Micathermic heaters, which typically have a flat panel heating element, are extremely quiet, efficient, and heat rooms quickly. Radiant heaters provide spot heating for work spaces or other personal areas.
Carefully research heaters and purchase one that is designed to effectively heat your space. This will help you avoid unnecessary energy and even safety costs.
Important Energy Features
Once you have decided on the basics of your heater, it's time consider additional features. Space heaters are often equipped with a variety of options to enhance the comfort of your room, ensure safety, and conserve energy. Popular energy-saving features include automatic thermostats and automatic shut-off timers.
Similar to programmable thermostats, automatic thermostats and shut-off timers allow you to program how much heat your room will receive and for how long. Set your heater's automatic thermostat to the desired room temperature. Once it reaches that temperature, the unit will cycle on and off to maintain the comfort of your room.
An automatic shut-off timer gives you the ability to specify how long you would like your heater to operate. When your selected time is up, the unit automatically turns off. This is not only cost-effective; it also provides a layer of safety. It's a popular feature people use before going to bed or leaving for work. The Sunpentown SH-1508 Ceramic Tower Heater with Ionizer includes both of these features for maximum savings.
For more detailed information about purchasing the right space heater, read our Heater Buying Guide.
Proper Use for Energy Savings
Now that you've found the perfect heater, it's time to make it a part of your home and your energy-saving plan. Experts agree that the key to effectively supplementing your indoor heat with a space heater is to keep the entire house cooler than normal.
As a rule of thumb, set your home thermostat to 68 degrees or lower, and use the space heater to warm just the room that you are using. This means that only a minimal amount of energy is being used to maintain a consistent temperature for the entire house. Meanwhile, the space heater focuses heat precisely where you need it, when you need it—saving energy and money.
Many space heaters, like the Honeywell HZ-980 Energy Smart Heater, are lightweight and feature handles to simplify moving them from room to room. This translates into effortless energy savings in multiple rooms, as the heater goes only where you are within your home.
Keep in mind that setting your thermostat to a regularly warm temperature defeats the purpose of using a portable heater for energy savings. This uses unnecessary power and results in higher utility bills. Additionally, many people close vents in unused rooms to lower energy consumption. However, this practice should be avoided because it can cause damage to your ducts or your home's main heating system, which will result in costly repairs.
Safety Is Key
While manufacturers take steps to ensure that their portable heaters operate safely and effectively, they cannot plan for accidents and injuries caused by improper use. When using a space heater, remember the following guidelines to protect yourself and your family from heating accidents:
- Look for Safety Certification: Find heaters that meet the safety requirements of a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), such as ETL or the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL). This certification ensures that the unit meets the minimum requirements of widely accepted product safety standards.
- Place on Safe Surfaces: Heaters should be placed or mounted on hard, level surfaces that are fire resistant and away from foot traffic. Avoid placing them on rugs, carpet, ceramic surfaces, tile surfaces, or other flammable areas.
- Keep Away From Children and Pets: Although many heaters are equipped safety tip-over features and are cool to the touch, keeping them out of reach of children and pets ensures that tiny fingers and curious noses are unharmed. Plus, you can rest assured that accidents won't interrupt the serenity of your home.
- Situate in a Non-Flammable Area: Place your heater at least 3 feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable materials.
For more safety advice, read our article Portable Heater Safety Tips.
Now is a good time to devise a plan that helps you save on heating costs. Space heaters are a great alternative to costly traditional indoor heating - as long as they are used correctly. With the variety of heaters and features available, one that brings warmth to your home and savings to your pocketbook - without added safety concerns - is out there for you.
Weatherproofing your home and purchasing Energy Star appliances are other popular options for reducing energy consumption.
Another good option is a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats help you save energy by following a schedule—preset by you—that adjusts your heating and cooling system as needed. It's an easy way to cut back on wasting electricity during sleep and work hours. For example, your thermostat can be programmed to maintain a lower temperature while you are at work and to automatically increase the temperature to your preferred setting before you arrive home. This simple adjustment adds up to significant savings in energy consumption and money.
Still Have Questions?
For more information on specific heaters and other indoor air treatment solutions, review our extensive product listings and other Knowledge Center articles. Not sure what's best for you? We can take the guesswork out of decision-making. Contact our product experts toll free at 1-800-934-9194. We want to help you make your indoor environment healthy and comfortable.