HVAC System or Space Heater: Which One Is More Efficient?

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Although the greater Phoenix area is known for its summer heat, it can be downright, bone-chilling cold on winter nights. While no one enjoys paying for high heating bills, it’s sometimes necessary to turn the thermostat up to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. This begs an important question for any homeowner on a budget. Is it more energy or cost-efficient to use a space heater while keeping the thermostat low or to turn up the temperature on your thermostat?

Like with most questions pertaining to HVAC, the answer is – it depends. There is no one right answer because there are several factors which can impact your energy consumption. These include:

The efficiency of your HVAC system

A new or properly maintained HVAC system can be dramatically more efficient than one that is aging out or hasn’t been properly maintained. Even the state of your air filter and ductwork can have a dramatic effect on the efficiency of your system.

The energy usage of the space heater

Some are efficient, and others suck gas or electricity in surprisingly large amounts. However, as a rule, space heaters are less efficient than HVAC systems. Space heater capacities typically range between 10,000 Btu and 40,000 Btu per hour and can run on propane, natural gas, kerosene or electricity.

The size of the space you want to heat

Space heaters only heat up a confined space. Thus, if you have a large living room, particularly one with high ceilings, you may find that a space heater can’t effectively heat the entire room to make it a comfortable, even temperature.

If you have a small room, such as a den or bedroom, a space heater can sometimes be beneficial to supplement your HVAC system to contain heating costs. To make it cost and energy-efficient, it’s important to choose a space heater with a warranty and features that meet your needs. Look for one that is designed to heat a room the size that you plan to use it in. Evaluate wattages of various models to determine which are the most energy-efficient. Space heater features, such as a timer setting and a thermostat, can also help you manage your energy usage.

Safety First When It Comes to Home Heating

Of course, safety is a key consideration when using space heaters. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires happen each year due to space heaters. When using a space heater, follow these important guidelines:

  • Only use a newer model space heater that is fully operational. Check to see that it has the Underwriter’s Laboratory label on it.
  • Choose a heater that is properly sized for the room you want to heat. Most heaters have a sizing table.
  • Place the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Make sure to keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly in a wall outlet. Follow manufacturer’s instructions when using it with an extension cord.
  • Only use a space heater with a tip-over safety switch that will shut off the heater if it is tipped over.

Want to learn more about managing your winter heating costs? Call the experts at Chandler Air.