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Space heater cost to operate

Small electric resistance Space Heaters are a staple of personal comfort in the fall and winter. Space heaters are typically used when the main heating system is inadequate or too expensive to operate or to boost the room temperatures of individuals who are sensitive to cold. But they can also have a large impact on winter electric bills. 

Beware of manufacturer’s claims

Members should be educated about the cost of space heaters before believing catchy savings claims, like “Cut Your Heating Bill in Half!”.  Savings claims made by most retailers can only be accomplished if you lower the setting on your thermostat for your whole house heating system. If you don’t lower your central system’s thermostat before using a portable heater, you are actually increasing your heating bill.

The actual cost of operating an electric space heater will vary greatly based on the power setting of the heater you are using and the amount of time the heater is running. 

To calculate the cost of operation:

  1. Obtain the wattage (watts) from the nameplate. Note: if listed as watts, skip to step 2. If amps are specified, multiply amps x voltage to obtain watts.
  2. Divide the number of watts by 1000 to get kW. Example: 1500W ÷1000 =1.5kW.
  3. To find out how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) the heater uses, multiply the kW x the number of hours the heater is running each day. Example: The heater runs for 10 hours per day= 1.5kW x 10 hours = 15 kWh per day.
  4. To calculate the daily operating cost, multiply the kWh of the heater by the average cost per kWh (CECC’s approximate rate per kWh is $0.10) Example: The daily cost = 15 kWh x $0.10= $1.50 per day to operate. (If the heater runs 18 hours, 27 kWh x $0.10 =$2.70 a day.)
  5. To calculate the monthly operating cost, multiply the daily cost by the number of days the heater is used during the month. Example: If you run the 1500W heater 10 hours per day, 30 days per month = 15 kWh x $0.10 x 30= $45.00. (If the heater runs 18 hours daily for 30 days, 27 kWh x $0.10 x 30 = $81.)

The cheapest space heater is the one you don’t have to use

Before You Buy a space heater, it will be beneficial to take some easy and inexpensive energy-saving measures in your home. Any of these could solve your heating problems without any additional heating equipment:

  • Add caulk and weather stripping around doors and windows.
  • Add insulation to attics and exposed knee walls.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters.
  • Move furniture or obstacles away from heat registers.
  • Insulate and seal duct work.
  • Close blinds or curtains at night.