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Is It Cheaper To Run Space Heaters Or Central Heat?

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Key Takeaways

Average Monthly Cost (Space Heaters)$50 – $80
Average Monthly Cost (Central Heat)$30 – $200
Cost EfficiencySpace heaters can be cheaper when heating small areas or used for short periods. Central heat is more efficient for larger spaces or homes.
Factors To ConsiderType of heater, size of the space, frequency of use, energy source, and insulation.

$50 – $80 Average Monthly Cost To Run A Space Heater

Running a space heater typically costs between $50 and $80 per month. This can vary based on the heater’s power consumption, the rate of electricity in your area, and how often and long you use the heater.

$30 – $200 Average Monthly Cost To Run Central Heat

The monthly cost of running central heat ranges from $30 to $200. This wide variation depends on factors such as the type of central heating system, existing insulation, size of the area being heated, and local energy costs.

Space Heater vs. Central Heat

Space Heaters vs. Central Heat Running Cost

Central heating and space heaters cater to different needs, and the cost difference is significant. Here’s a breakdown:

TimeframePortable Space HeaterCentral Heating
Per hour$0.20 – $0.30$0.13 – $0.83
Per day (8 hrs)$1.60 – $2.50$1.00 – $6.60
Per month$50 – $80$30 – $200
Per year$200 – $480$120 – $1,200

Space Heater vs. Central Heat Cost Comparison

Both options have their specific running costs and applications:

Heat SourceHeat TypeMonthly Running CostSeasonal Running Cost
Portable HeaterDirect$50 – $80$200 – $480
Wood StoveDirect$0 – $500$0 – $3,000+
Pellet StoveDirect$130 – $220$500 – $1,300
Natural Gas FurnaceCentral$30 – $60$120 – $360
Heat PumpCentral$40 – $160$160 – $960
Mini-Split Heat PumpCentral$30 – $150$120 – $900
Oil FurnaceCentral$80 – $145$320 – $870
Propane FurnaceCentral$90 – $200$360 – $1,200
Electric FurnaceCentral$130 – $180$520 – $1,100
Radiant FloorsCentral$65 – $250$140 – $1,500
Baseboard HeaterCentral$480 – $900$1,900 – $5,400

Types Of Heaters And Their Cost Implications

Portable Space Heater

Portable space heaters provide direct heat to a localized area, making them suitable for small spaces or temporary use. They tend to be less efficient for heating larger areas but are useful for spot heating.

Wood Stove

Wood stoves are a direct heating method that can range significantly in cost, from essentially free if wood is available on property, to varying prices if wood needs to be purchased.

Pellet Stove

Pellet stoves use small, compressed wood or biomass pellets as fuel and provide a direct source of heat. They are more efficient than traditional wood stoves but come with moderately higher costs.

Natural Gas Furnace

Natural gas furnaces are commonly used in central heating systems and are known for their relatively lower operational costs, depending on natural gas prices in your region.

Heat Pump

Heat pumps are efficient systems suited for both heating and cooling. They work best in moderate climates and have varying costs depending on electricity rates and the system installation.

Mini-Split Heat Pump

Similar to heat pumps, mini-splits offer versatility and efficiency. They are particularly useful for retrofitting homes without existing ductwork.

Oil Furnace

Oil furnaces are another option for central heating, often used in colder regions. They tend to have higher operational costs compared to natural gas but can be effective in warming entire homes.

Propane Furnace

Propane furnaces provide efficient central heating and are an alternative in areas where natural gas is not available. However, the costs of propane can fluctuate widely.

Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces convert electricity into heat directly. They are usually not as efficient as other heating methods and can be more expensive to run, especially in larger homes.

Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating offers energy-efficient, uniform warming throughout the house. However, the initial installation and operational costs can be high.

Baseboard Heating

Baseboard heating systems are electric heaters installed along the baseboards of a home. They provide even heat distribution, but tend to have high operational costs.

Heating Cost FAQs

What Is The Cheapest Way To Heat A Home?

The cheapest way to heat a home depends on various factors including the size of the home, local energy costs, and the type of heating system installed. Generally, natural gas furnaces and heat pumps provide cost-effective heating for larger areas.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Space Heater?

Space heaters offer localized heating, which can be highly economical for small spaces or individual rooms. They are portable and provide quick heat, making them ideal for temporary or supplementary heating needs.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Central Heat?

Central heating systems provide consistent and efficient heating throughout an entire home. They are convenient, often controlled by a single thermostat, and can improve overall air quality when equipped with proper ventilation.

Should I Adjust The Thermostat Or Use A Space Heater?

If you are heating a small area or a single room, a space heater might be more cost-effective. For larger homes or continuous heating needs, adjusting the thermostat with a central heating system is generally better.

Is It Cheaper To Heat With Propane Or Natural Gas?

Natural gas is typically cheaper and more efficient than propane, making it a more cost-effective option for heating. However, propane can be a viable alternative in areas where natural gas is not available.

Questions To Ask An HVAC Contractor

When consulting with an HVAC contractor, consider asking the following:

  1. What is the most efficient heating system for my home?
  2. How much will it cost to install a new heating system?
  3. What are the maintenance requirements for different heating systems?
  4. Are there any incentives or rebates available for energy-efficient systems?
  5. Can you provide an estimate of running costs for various heating options?

Understanding the costs and benefits of space heaters versus central heating systems is essential in making an informed decision to ensure both comfort and savings in your home.

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