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Do Space Heaters Save Money? (2024 Guide)

Don't Work Another Day is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own.
  By Forrest McCall | Last Updated:  January 9, 2021

If you live in a cold climate, a significant portion of your monthly budget in the winter is going to go toward warming your home.

The energy you use to warm your home is not free, and the bill you get every month can get quite high when the weather is cold, and the nights are long. For those who live in a particularly cold climate, the winter months can get very expensive when trying to keep up with energy bills that have increased dramatically as compared to the summer.

As a potential solution, you may think about using a space heater.

If you can utilize a space heater to make the rooms you are using more comfortable, you may be able to save money overall. Heating the areas of the home that you use while bringing down the temperature in the rest of your house seems like it would be more efficient.

So do space heaters save money? Let’s take a closer look.

Do Space Heaters Save Money?

The answer to this question might not be as straightforward as you'd like. It depends.

Some factors that will help you determine if you can save money using a space heater include:

  • The cost of electricity in your area
  • How much electricity your space heater uses
  • How much your central heating system costs to run
  • The length of time required to heat your area with a space heater

If your home is heated with central heat that is extremely cheap, a space heater may not be the cheapest way to heat your home

But if your central heating system is not the most efficient, using a space heater can save you money. 

In other cases, you might use a space heater to only heat select areas of your home. This can be a great hack to lower your utility bills (more on this below!).

How to Save Money with a Space Heater

At first, you might think that using your existing source of heat alone – such as a furnace – would be the most efficient way to go. After all, wouldn’t adding a new heat source cause you to use more energy, not less?

That’s logical thinking, but it might not play out that way. If you can use the new heat source to warm your home in a targeted manner, it may be possible to save money in the end.

The key here is to think about which rooms in your home actually get used regularly.

With a furnace that pushes out warm air to the whole house, you are warming every room – even if that room isn’t being used very often. So, you are paying for energy that is heating a space that you don’t actually need to be heated. In this way, you can see how there is an inefficiency to address.

If you would like to consider this approach to saving energy and lowering your monthly bill, read through the three steps below. Of course, before you make any changes, you’ll want to think carefully about how you use the rooms in your home and any other variables that may impact this plan.

Purchase an Energy Efficient Space Heater

This first step in the process is particularly important. If you use an old space heater that draws a ton of power each time you click it on, you will probably be doing more harm than good to your power consumption total. Rather, you need to be using a modern model that is relatively efficient.

Since you are going into this process with the goal of saving money, you might be tempted to save money on the purchase of your space heater, as well. But that’s likely going to be the wrong approach.

If you buy the cheapest space heater you can find, you likely won’t get the kind of efficiency that is available with a nicer model.

Spending a little extra at this stage can go a long way toward getting the kind of long-term savings that you desire.

This energy efficient space heater is a great option.

Lower the Temperature of Your Thermostat

So, at this point, we will assume that you have acquired a space heater for your home. Will you enjoy savings if you simply plug in that space heater, turn it on, and make no other changes? Of course not.

In order to bring down your energy consumption and experience savings at the end of the month, you’ll need to make one other key change.

That change is to bring down the temperature of your thermostat that controls the climate of your entire home. For instance, if you currently have your thermostat set for 68*, you could experiment with bringing that down by a couple of degrees or more to reduce how much energy is used to warm the house. While it might not sound like a big change to adjust your thermostat by a couple of degrees, you’ll be surprised to see how much of an impact that can make on your energy consumption.

Only Heat Rooms Being Occupied

With your thermostat set lower, you can now address the matter of properly warming the areas where you spend the most time. This is where your new space heater, or heaters, will come into play. By using them to target the areas of the house that need to be warmed up a little more, you can strike a nice balance between comfort and savings.

Let’s use an example to see how this could work in the real world. Imagine that you own a two-bedroom house which has a couple of bathrooms and a bonus room/office. At the moment, there are only two people living in the house. So, the extra bedroom is not occupied, and one of the bathrooms is rarely used. Also, both people living in the home work outside of the house, so the bonus room is not used frequently.

By heating this entire home to a comfortable temperature, you are almost certainly wasting energy. You are simply heating up rooms that are not going to be occupied very often, if at all. As the cold months go by, you’ll be spending a lot of money to make rooms in your home comfortable – yet no one will be in there to enjoy it.

This example highlights the inefficiency of your current plan, and how a space heater might be able to help. With a space heater or two around the house, you can pick and choose where you want the warmer air to be dispersed. In the evening, that might be in the living room, where you relax and watch some TV. Later, you might need warmer air in the master bedroom as you unwind and get ready for bed. During these times, the rest of the house can be maintained at a cooler temperature, saving you money and avoiding the unnecessary use of resources.

Related: Best Cheap Living Ideas

Five Tips to Using a Space Heater to Save Money

For the most part, space heaters are pretty easy to use. You don’t need to know much to get started with a space heater, but there are a few basic tips to keep in mind to help you save money.

Safety is Your Top Priority

Always think about safety before anything else when you are using a space heater in your home. Remember, this is a source of heat, so it can be dangerous when used incorrectly.

Modern space heaters are designed for safe use, but it’s still wise to be cautious. For instance, always be careful with children around space heaters – watch them closely and make sure they understand that this is not a toy. You should not leave a child unattended with a space heater, including overnight in the child’s room. Also, don’t leave anything flammable close to the heater, and turn it off before you leave or go to sleep.

Be Modest with the Settings

You probably don’t need to crank the space heater all the way up to its highest setting to get the results you need. The goal is to simply make your home comfortable in the spaces you are using – you aren’t trying to create a sauna.

Start by running the space heater on a low setting for a while and see how it goes. You might find that this is enough to take the chill out of the air and allow you to feel comfortable in the house. Using a lower setting will obviously require less energy, adding to the savings that you enjoy.

Dress Appropriately

If you insist on wearing a lightweight t-shirt and shorts in your home, even in the middle of winter, you are bound to spend a lot of money on heating. Simply by wearing the right clothes for the winter months, you can reduce how much heat you need to produce to be comfortable.

As a starting point, make it a habit to wear pants and a long-sleeve shirt while in your home during the cold part of the year. Also, wearing socks or slippers can go a long way toward making you feel warmer, especially if you have hardwood or tile floors.

Experiment with Different Positions

You might find that you get better results from your space heater in some locations as compared to others. It can be hard to predict the way the warm air is going to flow around the room, and how it will feel based on where you like to sit and how the room is designed.

Try a few different locations in each room to see what works best. Ideally, you’ll find a spot that allows you to bring the room up to a comfortable temperature without having to run the space heater for too long or at too high of a setting.

Try Different Thermostat Settings

Keeping with the theme of experimentation, you can also try out setting your thermostat at different levels to see how it impacts energy usage and your overall comfort level. Does setting the thermostat a couple of degrees below normal lead to the savings you are looking for, or should you go a little lower than that? When you make those changes, how does your house feel, and how much do you have to use the space heater? You’re looking for just the right combination of variables, and it might take some time to get it dialed in properly.

If your thermostat offers the ability to set the temperature of your home based on time of day, you can utilize that function as well to optimize your operation. Rather than keeping your house warmed to a comfortable temperature when you aren’t home, set those hours to be a little cooler. This is another small step you can take toward reducing energy waste and limiting your heating costs.

Cheapest Ways to Heat Your Home

Do Space Heaters Save Energy?

When it comes down to it, the core of this article is about one simple question – do space heaters save energy? Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as the question. There is no way to provide a definitive answer that will apply to all situations, because there are too many variables involved.

Space heaters use energy, just like anything else that produces heat. So, what we are really trying to figure out is if the energy you use when you turn on the space heater is more than offset by what you save when turning down your thermostat. The only way to know for sure is to try it for yourself.  

To give yourself the best possible chance of saving energy through the use of a space heater, it’s essential to use a quality product. Not only will a quality space heater from a trusted brand deliver added safety, but the unit should also be more efficient than lesser models. This is one of those situations where you may need to spend some money in order to save some money.

By investing in a good space heater that will perform well and hold up over the long run, you can give this plan the best possible chance of success.

Final Thoughts on Using a Space Heater to Save Money

If you are tired of paying lofty energy bills throughout the cold months of the year, consider using a space heater to bring down your overall energy use. 

Space heaters can certainly save you money in certain scenarios, but you'll want to experiment and analyze your electric bill at the end of the month to compare. 

By using a space heater to warm select rooms and lowering the temperature of your entire home, there's a good chance using a space heater will save you some cash when your electric bill comes.

Forrest is a personal finance, entrepreneurship, and investing expert dedicated to helping others obtain life long wealth. He has a Bachelor's degree in business and has been featured in many popular publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Bankrate, CNET Money, and many others. To learn more about Forrest, visit the About Us Page for more info.
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