Space Heater vs Gas Furnace

Archived From: Deal Discussion
  • Page :
  • 1
  • Text Only
rated:
Hi,

I know the answer to this might be obvious, but I'm not 100% sure so I want to run it by the FW community. So please no TC'ing.

I have a 2200 sq ft home in Metro Detroit MI. I haven't turned the heat on yet and we've had some cold days (no freezing temps though). I'm trying to figure out if running a space heater in my bedroom at night is more or less expensive than running the gas furnace. I think it's cheaper, but haven't tried this before and haven't seen the bills yet.

I've been making a hot fire in the fireplace when I get home which heats up that living space (family room) to comfortable temps (usually ~70). I let the fire die down before bed time. I plan on doing this most nights I'm home this winter and keeping the gas furnace thermostat set to a very low temp, but high enough to prevent freezing pipes.

Before I go to bed I close the bedroom door and turn on a portable electric radiator style space heater (the kind filled w/liquid). I'm safe and keep it away from everything. It's a 1500 watt heater and has the option to run at 600, 900, or 1500. I'm pretty sure it doesn't run constantly, as I hear it click sometimes indicating its kicking back on to maintain its temp. It's non-programmable but does have a dial to control the temp. I'd say the heater is from the mid 1990's. I've been running it on the 600 watt setting when it gets down to the lower 50's outside, and 900 watt when it's gotten down to the mid-30's. It keeps the room nice and warm enough to sleep and wake up to the next morning. I would imagine when it starts to get down to freezing temps outside I might need to crank it to the 1500 watt setting. That's a lot of watts, so that's my concern with it approaching the cost of running the furnace HVAC system. But keep it mind, I don't think it's constantly running at 1500, I think it's only when it needs to.

Am I better off $ wise to use this space heater or to program the gas furnace to kick on to a comfortable temp a few hours before I wake up and off again when it's time for work? My main concern is being able to wake up to a warm room. I can combat the cold sleeping temps with wool socks and extra blankets. I would also keep my door close to contain the heat if I went that route.

Thanks in advance for your insight!

Member Summary

Is it cheaper? Yes, most definitely. I have tried this in the past couple years before it gets really cold up here in the new england area. I just heat up my bedroom for an hour or so before bedtime, since it's not freezing outside this is just more for comfort.

This is compared to heating your entire house up to say 65 or 68 degrees with the furnace. My typical monthly bill for only using the gas furnace to heat the entire house averages around $300 to $400 in the winter. I have tried reducing the temps to 60 and using a space heater in the bedroom, the bill drops to about $200 to $250.

It is a good idea to get a programmable space heater if you can afford one, it will start and stop at a certain time and or keep your room at a certain temp. Since I live alone it makes a lot of sense not to heat every room in the house for no good reason.

This is impossible to tell with the information provided. What is your KWH price for electricity? What is your BTU price for gas? How many BTU/hr does your furnace use? This is further complicated by heating a whole house with a furnace vs one room with a space heater.

My gut says you'll save money with the space heater, but if (and how much money) you save depends on a lot of factors even beyond what is listed above.

seems like thread crapping would appropriate. But since it is tenuously finance,

Running a fireplace without a heat exchanger, pulls in outside (cold) air through every crack. Most expensive, and tends to make the rest of the house colder. See Mythbusters and common sense.

Electric heat is almost always more expensive to run than a fuel-heat source. 600/900+ watt selection makes no difference. The electric heater will just run longer or shorter to maintain its fixed setpoint, with about the same energy consumed over time.

Zoning (closing the door) MIGHT make bedroom-electric-heating cheaper than central-fuel-heating, with a fixed setpoint. Can't really tell without know how tight your house is.

If you can put the electric heater on a timer so it is only warm in the morning, then it will certainly come out cheaper than running the central-fuel-heat at a higher temperature. Many people prefer to sleep in a cold room. Be careful to get a timer that can handle the 15 amps of the heater.

Do avoid cycling the house through wide temperature swings, which will crack finishes and make it shabbier. Women usually hate it too.

I be an engineer.

I used an electric oil heater, which took a couple hours to get really going, but power usage was low and it'd keep my bedroom toasty. It ran maybe 8-14 cents per hour at 1000-1500 Watts I believe and heated 150 ft sq no problem.

Way cheaper than an electric/gas furnace heating the entire house.

It will be cheaper because you'll only be heating one room versus the whole house. Overall a gas furnace is much more efficient though, so it wouldn't make sense to buy a bunch of space heaters.

I thought the rule of thumb is 2 to 3 rooms is cost break even, so use space heaters for 1 or 2 rooms and central for 3 or more. Of course, this can vary widely.

Thank you everyone for your responses. Gotta love FW

DaGimp said:   Is it cheaper? Yes, most definitely. I have tried this in the past couple years before it gets really cold up here in the new england area. I just heat up my bedroom for an hour or so before bedtime, since it's not freezing outside this is just more for comfort.

This is compared to heating your entire house up to say 65 or 68 degrees with the furnace. My typical monthly bill for only using the gas furnace to heat the entire house averages around $300 to $400 in the winter. I have tried reducing the temps to 60 and using a space heater in the bedroom, the bill drops to about $200 to $250.

It is a good idea to get a programmable space heater if you can afford one, it will start and stop at a certain time and or keep your room at a certain temp. Since I live alone it makes a lot of sense not to heat every room in the house for no good reason.


DaGimp - is your house furnace running gas? How well insulated is the house? 300-400 heating bill sounds high for gas, but then it all depends on whether your house is well-insulated and then your setpoints vs outside temp (delta T).

I have a relatively new house and this will be my 1st winter. So I'm wondering the same thing. I notice that the heat stays in the rooms nicely due to good insulation. When the furnace comes on, it's only for a short time and the room temp is stable for hours. In this case, I'm skeptical whether using a electric heater to heat 1 room will save much.



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

TRUSTe online privacy certification

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2014