We’ve all likely experienced this issue—the space in your home that, no matter what, seems to never get as warm as the rest of the house during colder months. Many use space heaters to take care of this issue, rather than dialing up the heat in the rest of the house to ensure this space is somewhat comfortable. Others even go so far as to use multiple space heaters as the main heat source in their homes. This is sometimes the case in milder climates where a great deal of heat isn’t necessarily needed at most times throughout the year. Whatever the use for space heaters, a common questions almost always arises—“how much is this costing me?”


Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact answer to this question, as it’s largely a case-by-case scenario. However, there are some general guiding principles to space heater use. At times, they can be a great way to efficiently heat a small area in your home, as mentioned above. In other cases, trying to heat large areas of the home or extremely poorly insulated and inefficient areas, it can be a very expensive and highly consuming heating solution.


In general, if you only need one or two rooms heated in your home, space heaters can save quite a bit of energy and money over the use of whole-home heating systems. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, such as in the case of an extremely efficient central air or whole-home heating system.


Alternatively, if you have to heat the entire home (or even a large portion), it’s very rare that using space heaters will be as efficient as a larger heating system. Efficient furnaces in decently weatherized homes will almost always outperform multiple space heaters due to the fact that the heat output for the amount of total energy used is much greater with these larger systems. They are simply more efficient in larger areas or multiple rooms.


As mentioned above, there are some cases in which space heaters may be a good solution to your heating needs. If you think space heaters may be a good option for you, it’s a great idea to do some research to see what type of space heater will bring you the most efficient heating solution. There are many models and brands on the market, and doing a little digging before making a purchase can make a big difference.


If you just need to heat part of a room, it may be a good idea to invest in an infrared radiant heater. This unit emits heat radiation that heats up whatever is closest to the unit. If you need to heat up an entire room using a space heater, a convection heater is the way to go. This space heater actually heats up the air in the room. These different types are comparable in price, and typically range from about $30 for basic models to $100+ for more powerful and efficient units.


Any time we talk about heating solutions for your home, it’s important to point out that the best way to high efficiency, regardless of the heat type or system, is proper insulation and weatherization in your home. A home energy audit is the best place to start when considering what type of heat will result in the most comfort and lowest monthly costs for you and your loved ones.