Use a Space Heater at Night and Save Big on Your Heating Bill: Here's How Much (2023)

If you're looking for a way to trim serious money from your monthly heat bill but still keep your toes warm, using an energy-efficientspace heater may have crossed your mind. S

pace heaters won't stand in as a full replacement for central heat, but using one strategically can cut down your energy bill, especially during the colder months.

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Use a Space Heater at Night and Save Big on Your Heating Bill: Here's How Much (2)
Use a Space Heater at Night and Save Big on Your Heating Bill: Here's How Much (3)

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Running a whole-home furnace is costly. Because you're not in all rooms at all times, a natural foil for pricey heating costs is to only heat the rooms you are in with an electric space heater and crank the thermostat down, saving energy on heating unused spaces. While this may sound like more trouble than it's worth, an even simpler option is to use a space heater at night in your bedroom, since you'll likely be settled in there for anywhere from six to nine hours (or however long you typically sleep).

To find out exactly how much you can save using a space heater to supplement or even replace your heat for a short spell, we did the math. While there are loads of variables -- fuel cost in your region, climate, house size, preferred temperature -- we relied on some national averages, and it turns out you can save as much as $500 per winter using a space heater in the bedroom.

For more ways to save money this winter, check out 5 tips to save money on your heating bill, where you should move your thermostat to cut down heating costs and the best energy-saving smart gadgets that will help you cut down your bills.

Best Space Heaters for 2023

See at Cnet

How much does it cost to run a space heater?

There are a number of considerations when determining how much it will cost to run a space heater. The first is the type of heater that you've got, including its size and wattage. A small personal heater can be purchased as cheaply as $20, whereas a full room heater can run you up to $300, depending on the model and heating capacity. Larger heaters cover more area and are more effective (while smaller heaters in big spaces are inefficient), but also cost more to run.

The second thing that you'll want to consider is energy efficiency. This is tricky when it comes to space heaters because they are not currently evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency's EnergyStar program. As a result, you'll have to take the word of the manufacturer when it comes to energy efficiency.

Finally, you'll need to take into account your state or municipality's electricity rates. This will determine the cost per hour that you can expect to incur by running your space heater. These prices might also dictate how long you'd like to run your space heater.

On average, you can expect to pay about 20 cents per hour to run an average space heater that is 1,500 watts and can heat a standard room. If you run it for 8 hours per day, you'll pay about $1.60 per day. That comes out to just under $50 per month.

How much does it cost to heat your home for the winter?

Comparatively, the cost to heat a house varies widely, based largely on home size and fuel type. Below is what theUS Energy Information Associationpredicts US households will spend on heating this winter, from Oct. 1 through March 31. That's 181 days, if you're counting. The chart of anticipated costs for various fuel types to heat a home in a climate 10% colder than the national average for winter 2022-23.

Projected US heating costs for winter 2022-23

Cost per US household (Oct. '22 - Mar. '23) Average price per day Average price per hour Increase from last year
Natural Gas $1,096.00 $6.05 $0.25 28%
Heating Oil $2,605.00 $14.39 $0.60 27%
Electricity $1,482.00 $8.16 $0.34 10%
Propane $2,157.00 $11.90 $0.50 5%

How much can you realistically save with a space heater?

While $50 per month sounds like a steal for heating, a space heater is obviously not a full substitute for heating an entire home. But there are plenty of ways to save money using a space heater to supplement your monthly warming and slash your utility bill. For this exercise, we'll calculate how much you could save using a space heater only at night in the bedroom.

To save money on heating costs, you might consider planting a space heater in your bedroom, or bedrooms if your home has multiple inhabitants at night, and turn the heat down or even off and turn it back on in the morning -- or not, if you're leaving the house for work. (Pro tip: If you set yourself up with a smart thermostat like Google Nest's, you can set it to do just that and wake up to a warm house, having used far less energy overnight).

Using the figures in the first chart, I've calculated the average cost of running a space heater through the night (8 hours) versus the cost of running the heat for the entire home. I multiplied the cost of one night using each fuel type, including an electric space heater, by 181 days (Oct. 1 - Mar. 31). From that, you can get a snapshot of potential savings for using a space heater at night instead of heating the whole house.

How much you'll save using a space heater at night

Cost per 8 hours Savings using space heater, 8 hours Savings with space heater, Oct - Mar
Natural Gas $2.00 $0.40 $72.00
Heating Oil $4.80 $2.80 $506.00
Electricity $2.72 $0.72 $130.00
Propane $4.00 $2.00 $434.00

For those using oil or propane as fuel, the savings are significant: $434 for propane and $506 for oil just in the winter season alone. Those with natural gas and electric heat save less -- $72 and $130, respectively -- but, as you'll see in the next section, these numbers don't tell the entire story, and the space heater savings are even greater for those with freestanding homes and those who live in colder parts of the country.

Those with large apartments and freestanding homes save more

One big caveat to these numbers for estimated heating costs is that they account for all homes and home types in the US including smaller apartments and condos. To heat an average freestanding home with natural gas, for instance, with a 75,000-BTU furnace, you're probably looking at a number closer to 40 cents an hour, according toPickHvac's heating cost calculator. And this is a yearly average; zeroing in on the winter season only would bounce that hourly cost significantly.

Those in colder climates save more than these numbers show

The figures provided by the Energy Information Association are based on climates just 10% colder than the national average. The EIA numbers represent something of a rough estimate at US heating costs, but ask anyone in North Dakota, Maine, New Hampshire or Montana, and they'll tell you these numbers are decidedly low. Anecdotally, we spoke with Deb Barber from Wakefield, Rhode Island, who uses oil to heat a 2,000-square-foot home and reported monthly winter heating bills regularly in excess of $400.

If we use a lowball estimate of 60 cents per hour for heating a freestanding home of about 2,000 square feet with natural gas during the winter months in a colder climate, the savings for using a space heater in your bedroom at night would jump to over $500 for the season. Swap in more expensive oil or propane and prorate for the same scenario above (a larger home or apartment and colder climate) and you're talking about savings well into the thousands.

If you're looking to add a space heater to your bedroom or another room to cut energy costs, we've done some digging to find the best space heaters for 2023, including a budget pick, compact models and the best space heater for large rooms.

How do costs vary based on space heater settings?

On most space heaters, you'll see an option to adjust the level of heat that the appliance provides. Most have some form of a "low," "medium" and "high" setting. Typically what these settings translate to is the amount of the wattage capacity that is in use to heat your room.

Let's say you have a space heater that can produce up to 1,500 watts and you place it on the "low" setting, it may only use 750 watts of its capacity. This does have an impact on the overall energy consumption that your space heater will require. In fact, it can cut the daily cost in half. However, it may limit the heating ability of the space heater. It might be best to use the low setting to maintain warmth and only use the medium or high settings to provide additional heat in order to save on cost.

Space heaters are handy appliances to have, especially as the weather outside gets frightful and you need to start layering your clothes. But you'll want to prepare yourself for the cost of using a space heater. An additional $50 per month of utility costs can significantly impact your budget if you aren't prepared for it. Consider how to best balance your budget and your heating needs to make it through the winter in comfort and without breaking the bank.

The Best Space Heaters for Every Space

See at Cnet

How to pick the right space heater

If you're looking for some extra heat in the winter or to warm up your cubicle in a particularly cold office building, a space heater can be an excellent option. But not all space heaters are made the same. You'll want to take into account the amount of space that you're trying to heat, the way they heat the space, and the amount of energy they consume to perform the task.

For most people, a standard space heater that covers an average room will do the job. These cover about 200 square feet and are usually around 1,500 watts. If you're looking to heat under a desk or a smaller space, a personal space heater with about 400 or 500 watts will do the job.

Most space heaters fall into one of two types when it comes to generating heat. There are convection heaters, which work by heating coils that help to heat the air and spread it through the room with a fan. Then there are radiant heaters, which emit infrared radiation to help heat an area. Radiant heaters are faster but more focused, whereas a convection heater provides a more even heat throughout an area. In small bursts, radiant heaters are more efficient -- but in a space that needs to be heated for an extended period, convection can prove to be more effective.

Whichever space heater you choose, make sure to check out ourspace heater safety guide.

If your utility relies on a time-of-use plan, learn more about peak and off-peak hours to save money. For more, check out the small home upgrade you can make that will save you big money on heating costs, and more easy ways to save money around the house.

Read more:Best Space Heaters for 2023

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