Do Space Heaters Use a Lot of Electricity?

Do electric space heaters use a lot of electricity and increase your monthly bill?

Are they better than other heating systems and appliances? Or does it differ from one scenario to another?

How much do electric space heaters cost to run?

These questions and more I will be answering in this short guide in order to help you know if these devices are good to heat your place or not.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Do Space Heaters Use a Lot of Electricity?

Space heaters represent one of the big electric loads at home and offices, and the amount of energy they use depends on on the size of every specific heater, its type, and for how long it is left on.

In general, space heaters fall into the big electricity-consuming appliances such as microwaves, water heaters, stoves, AC units, irons, hair dryers, …etc., and use more electricity than most of the other home appliances such as fridges, lighting bulbs, TV’s, computers, fans, small water pumps, …etc.

How Much Electricity Do Space Heaters Use?

On average space heaters use anywhere between 0.5-1.5 kWh (kilowatt hour) of energy for every hour they are left on.

  • A 500-Watt space heater uses around 0.5 kWh per hour of operation.
  • A 750-Watt space heater uses around 0.75 kWh per hour of operation.
  • A 1,000-Watt space heater uses around 1 kWh per hour of operation.
  • A 1,500 Watt space heater uses around 1.5 kWh per hour of operation.

The total amount of electricity space heaters use per month depends on their rating and on how many hours they operate in total during the whole month.

Assuming that you run a 1,000-Watt space heater for five hours a day, then it would consume 1kWh X 5 X 30 = 150 kWh during the whole month.

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Are Electric Space Heaters Expensive to Run?

Space heaters can be expensive to run if you have a big space heater and you run it at the highest setting all the time, for many hours a day, and if the electricity rates at your area are relatively high.

In some cases, Space heaters could be cheaper to run than other systems such as big AC units that come with a heating mode.

And in some cases, even with the high electricity rates, space heaters can be a more cost-effective way to get heat in a small area using a single space heater, instead of running the complete central heating system for the whole place when you actually need to heat just one room or a small space in a big room.

How Much Does it Cost to Run Space Heaters?

On average, a 1,000-Watt space heater costs around 11 cents to run for a complete hour, based on the average electricity rate of 11 cents per kWh.

Assuming that you leave this space heater on for five hours a day, totaling 150 hours a month, the 1,000 Watt space heater would cost around $16.5 at the end of the month. ($0.11/kWh X150 kWh = $16.5)

Now the cost would be higher if the electricity rates in your area are higher than the average, like it is in California for example where the average rate is around 22 cents per kWh, which means that the total cost would be double the previous amount, around $33 per month for the 1,000-watt heater that works for five hours a day.

Do Space Heaters Increase Electric Bill?

Whether space heaters increase electric bill or not depends on what you where used to use for heating before switching to electric space heaters.

If you have been using central heating with a gas or diesel boiler, then switching to electric space heater would definitely increase your electric bill, while decreasing your gas or diesel bill.

And if you where used to use AC units on heating mode to heat the place, then switching to space heaters could either increase or decrease your electricity bill, depending on each case.

The real question is:

Is it Cost-Effective to Use Electric Space Heaters?

To answer this question, I need to give few examples for different situations:

For example, a 1-ton AC unit uses around 1 kWh per hour of operation, which is almost equivalent to what a 1,000 Watt space heater uses for the same hour of operation.

Switching from a 1-ton AC unit to a 1,000 watt space heater should not make that difference on electric bill.

However, there’s a small difference, which is the fact that an AC unit, in a closed and well-insulated room works on duty cycle where it turns off internally after the desired temperature in the room has been achieved, and turns on again when the temperature drops few degrees down.

This means that the AC might actually work less than one hour during the complete hour of operation, and thus, consume less than 1 kWh.

While with some space heaters like the IR heaters, they work continuously and consume 1 kWh per one hour of operation, with the rating of 1,000 watt.


But some space heaters, like the oil space heaters, could have the on-off duty cycle like the AC units if the temperature in the room reached a certain level.

But in case that you have a big 1-ton AC unit or even a bigger one, and you need to heat a small area in the room, where a 500W-750W space heater could be enough, then the space heater might be more cost-effective to run than an AC on the heating mode.

And compared to central heating that runs on a diesel or gas boiler, then the answer depends on each situation:

If you need to heat one room or a relatively small area at a time, then using one or two small space heaters might be more cost effective than running the complete central heating system.

While if you need to heat a big area of your home or apartment at the same time, then mostly, using the central heating would be more cost-effective than running many space heaters in every room.

Space heaters might be necessary if you want to provide heat in the garage or in the basement while using central heating for the rest of the house.

Are Space Heaters Energy Efficient?

The efficiency of space heaters depends on their type, brand, and age.

How Efficient Are Electric Space Heaters?

For example, infrared space heaters are highly efficient and could turn around 100% of the electricity they consume into heating, while conviction space heaters and oil space heaters are lower in efficiency.

However, IR heaters only provide instant heat, and to the space and objects directly in front of them. They don’t heat the air itself, and you can’t maintain heat after you turn them off.

While conviction space heaters work more like the AC unit and the central heating by heating the air itself, which means that they can heat a bigger space, and not only in front of them, and they can maintain heat after being turned off if the room is well-insulated.

Conclusion – Use Space Heaters Consciously

Space heaters could use a lot of electricity and can become one of the biggest contributors to your electricity bill.

Whether it is wise to use them or not depends on many factors, which are related to what alternatives you can use, the cost of running those alternatives compared to the cost of running space heaters, whether you want to heat the whole place or a small area, and so on.

I hope that my article was helpful and insightful for you in order to know if it costs a lot to use electric space heaters, and how to decide when to use them, and when to avoid them.

You may also read my article on the ways to reduce your heating bill in winter in order to save on heating regardless of the system you decide to use.

If you are still confused and need help in this issue or have more questions, please, ask me in the comments’ section below, and I will do my best to help you out 🙂

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