It is important to stay warm during the cold winter months. Sometimes it gets so cold outside that it is difficult to warm the house or office completely. For some people, that means breaking out a space heater to bring the temperature up to a comfortable level.

When the bitter cold outside air makes it difficult to warm your interior, it is often necessary to add a space heater to the mix to help your central air system. But if the central heating unit is not doing the job and creating enough warmth, why not just rely on a space heater in a single room?

Are central heating systems more energy efficient?

The short answer is, a space heater is not as energy efficient as a central heating system when it comes to warming up a large area. The furnace operates on a larger scale, turning on automatically when the temperature reaches the level set at the thermostat. The furnace kicks on and can heat the entire home. A space heater, on the other hand, generates heat for a specific area, typically the immediate area surrounding it. While that air can quickly heat up around a space heater, it is not very energy efficient to use when heating a larger area over a long period of time.

In regions where cold weather is intense and homes must be heated continuously over months at a time, it is not unusual for people to use both a central heating system and a space heater. As the central heating system, usually fueled by a furnace, generates heat throughout the home, the space heater serves as a mobile device taken from room to room as needed to provide heat for a localized area.

Are space heaters more energy efficient?

A space heater can be an effective way to produce greater heat in a small area, as an addition to the central heating system’s role of providing heat to the entire home. A space heater used in this smaller area can be efficient. The main benefit of the space heater is that it can be moved around in a home to provide heat temporarily in rooms in need of a little extra temperature boost.

You might be thinking, well, why not just add a space eater to each room and turn them all on to heat up the entire house. The reason this is not a good idea is it is almost never true that multiple space heaters operating all at once inside a home will be more energy efficient to operate than a central heating system.

It takes more energy to run the multiple space heaters all at once than it does to run the central heating system. The central heating system produces more warm area to circulate around the entire home than the individual space heaters do operating in individual rooms. There is not as much warm air circulating from the individual space heaters.

What type of space heater works best in homes?

As space heaters differ from central heating systems, there are various types of space heaters that differ from eachother as well. A convection space heater is capable of providing heat to a larger area because it works to warm the air in the room and circulate it. This is a similar process used by a central heating system, but the smaller space heater is not able to warm as much air as the central system or circulate it far enough to heat as efficiently.

A radiant space heater provides warmth to a smaller area, essentially blowing heated air into the immediate area closest to the heater. It does not attempt to heat the air and circulate it, but instead blows heat out from the source to add warmth into the air. This smaller space heater works well to direct warmth to a specific, smaller area.

Disadvantages of space heaters

While space heaters definitely have a purpose to serve during the cold winter months, there are some disadvantages that must be considered when using them. First, space heaters can be a fire hazard. They can generate enough heat in a small area to be a danger if left on unattended. Space heaters are responsible for many house fires each year because people use them to keep warm but they are not using them as carefully as they should.

Space heaters can also take a lot of power to operate, which can lead to breakers flipping off in some older houses and condominiums. If the breakers are tripped frequently while using a space heater, you should consider not using them in that home because of the dangers it poses to your electrical breakers. Make sure you read what electrical requirements the space heater you are using has so you will know if it is safe to use.

Discuss your heating needs with a Comfort Systems professional

It is generally preferred to use a central heating system to provide warmth in the winter months. A space heater can help provide a temporary source of warmth in a small area for a finite period. But it is not recommended to use it for longer periods of time or to leave it unattended. You should contact the professionals at Comfort Systems to discuss your home heating needs, maintenance help, and how you can avoid creating a fire hazard or using too much energy to keep your home’s temperature comfortable.