During the winter months, you need to have some sort of heating unit inside of your home to keep your family and your home safe. While furnaces are the most popular heating system utilized in the residential sector today, many homeowners are rethinking their heating options. Space heaters can be simpler to run and don’t require fuel. However, does that make them a good option over traditional furnaces?
What Is a Space Heater?
Before we dive into what is a better heating option, it’s first important that we distinguish between these two heating options. A space heater is designed to utilize electricity to heat your home. It’s crucial to note that there are space heaters that run on fuel, like heating oil. These are called combustion space heaters, and they’re not safe to operate inside of your home due to their exhaust gases.
Electric space heaters come with two different types of technology. These include infrared and convection. Convection space heaters have an element inside that heats up with electricity. It has a blower fan that forces cool air inside of the unit and over the heated element. Then, the air is forced into the room. Infrared space heaters utilize a newer technology that transfers heat directly from the space heater to an object in the room. With an infrared space heater, the heat never passes to the air, which can result in more energy savings and quicker heating.
What Is a Furnace?
A furnace is a very popular heating system that heats up the air and forces it throughout your home. All furnaces utilize electricity to start the burner, and then they use one of four fuel types to produce heat. These include oil, propane, natural gas and electricity. As the fuel burns, it emits heat into the heat exchanger. This air is forced into the ducting that runs throughout your home. A furnace is operated via a thermostat that allows you to set a specific indoor temperature. Your furnace will automatically kick on and off depending on what it senses the ambient temperature to be.
One factor that you’ll need to consider in your decision of whether to use a furnace or space heater is the purchase price of both. Space heaters can run anywhere from $40 to $350, depending on a number of factors. These include its heating capacity, safety features, design and so forth. It’s important to note that most space heaters won’t have the heating capacity to heat up your entire home. Rather, you’ll need to invest in multiple space heaters to adequately heat your whole home.
A furnace is a must larger financial investment. It can cost anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on a number of factors. These include heating capacity, fuel efficiency, brand, features and so forth. It’s also crucial to note that you’ll need ducting for your forced-air furnace to work. If your home currently doesn’t have ducting, this can be a large investment ranging from $1,900 to $6,000.
The second factor that you’ll want to take into consideration is the operating costs of both of these heating units. To compare them, we’re going to utilize a feasible example that compares a space heater that runs on electricity to a furnace that runs on natural gas. Our measure for comparison is going to be 100,000,000 BTUs, which is the average household usage during a typical winter season.
A space heater will have an efficiency of around 100%. The average cost per kilowatt-hour is about 19.8 cents. If we take into account this price, it will cost around $5,800 per year to heat the average home with a space heater. Conversely, the average furnace has an efficiency rating of 78%. With a cost of .951 cents per therm unit, a furnace will cost around $1,220 to heat the average home throughout an entire winter season.
Total Cost Comparison
It’s quite easy to see that furnaces are going to come at a much higher purchase price than your average space heater. Even if you buy multiple space heaters, you’re still not anywhere near the total upfront cost of having a furnace installed in your home.
However, when we take a look at the operating costs of these units, it tells a different story. A furnace, on average, will cost about four times less to run than your average space heater. When examining the upfront cost of a furnace, you can actually recoup the initial cost in your energy savings during its first year of operation.
Optimizing With Both
When it comes to optimizing your energy usage throughout the winter season, a combination of using a furnace and a space heater can be the way to go. A space heater should be utilized when you’re just looking to keep a single room or two at a comfortable temperature for a set period of time. Your furnace should be used when you’re trying to keep your entire home at a comfortable temperature.
For example, let’s say that you have a home office that you spend the daytime in. You can utilize a space heater to keep your home office warm throughout the daytime. You can turn your furnace down a few degrees as you won’t need the rest of your home to be at a comfortable temperature. This can help you to optimize your energy savings by using a space heater that costs less to run since it’s only heating up one room as opposed to your furnace, which has to heat up all of your rooms.
Space Heater Safety Tips
While space heaters can be a great way to supplement home heat in the wintertime, they can also be quite dangerous when not used correctly. In fact, the majority of home heating deaths by fire are a result of the misuse of portable space heaters. This makes it super necessary that you properly understand how to use a space heater in a safe manner.
First, make sure that you always place a space heater out of harm’s way. Avoid placing it near any flammable objects like beds, clothes, rugs and curtains. You should always opt for plugging your space heater into a wall receptacle. Using a power strip or extension cord can result in a fire due to a circuit overload. You should only be running your space heater when you’re physically in the room to monitor it.
Never hide the plug for your space heater under the carpet or other material, as it can cause the cord to overheat. When purchasing a new space heater, ensure that it has some safety features that help to protect your family during use. A great feature to look for is overheating protection. Whenever a space heater senses that its internal temperature is too high, it will automatically shut off. This will help in the event that your space heater gets knocked over or, in some other way, has its air restricted and starts to overheat.
Quality Heating Services
BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair offers quality heating services for the Las Vegas, NV area. We’re also available for all of your cooling, plumbing, indoor air quality and ducting needs. Contact our office today to set up your next appointment.