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Space Heater vs. Furnace: Which Is More Cost-Effective?

It’s common for people to look for ways to make their homes more cost-effective. One thing you may begin looking at is your utility bills — specifically the bill for your furnace. Many people use space heaters as an alternative to heating systems in small, cooler areas of their homes.  

While these heating devices conveniently provide extra warmth, are they saving you money? According to the Department of Energy, varying factors contribute to how efficiently a space heater works in your home. These variables include the age and efficiency of your heating system and how much energy your space heater uses.   

The Efficiency of a Space Heater 

Space heaters may be a reliable alternative choice for heating a small space — if a specific area of your home has a draft or you need some additional heat, a space heater will raise the temperature in that area. But using a space heater as a replacement for your HVAC system makes it much less efficient. 

The Department of Energy estimates that using your HVAC system as intended will cost less than half of what it would cost to heat your entire home using space heaters.   

Saving Money Using a Space Heater 

Most HVAC professionals — including those at Rowland Air — recommend relying on a space heater as a last resort. Your furnace is more efficient, but a space heater can come in handy in a pinch. If your heating system malfunctions, you may need an alternative solution while you wait for repair services.

A space heater can save you money if you use it in a single room. However, running three space heaters in three separate rooms all day will cost you more than turning up the furnace. 

According to the Department of Energy, the cost to heat your entire home using a space heater will increase your bills by 43% compared to using a furnace. Keeping your HVAC system fired up in most situations will be more energy efficient than using a space heater.     

Tips for Space Heater Efficiency  

If you need to rely on a space heater, you’ll want to make it as energy efficient as possible. Keep the following tips in mind to get the most savings. 

Measure the intended room before purchasing your space heater. Invest in a space heater that’s the right size to heat your room. Buying one that’s too small will not produce enough heat, causing your furnace to continue working harder. 

Look at several models while you’re shopping around. Different models have different wattages, making some more efficient than others. Consider a model with a thermostat or timer that will save more energy by shutting off before the room becomes overheated. 

When using the space heater, lower the thermostat setting on your furnace to stop doubling up on your heating costs. Remember to follow all safety instructions from the manufacturer to keep your space heater operation as safe as possible. Never leave your device unattended. 

Practice Space Heater Safety 

If you’re planning to run a space heater, ensure your smoke detectors work where your devices will be used. Avoid using an extension cord with a space heater, too — this setup places a significant load on one circuit.