Using Portable Space Heaters Wisely

Electric space heaters can be a convenient heating supplement when used periodically to take the chill off a blustery day. However, they become increasingly ineffective for heating as the space gets larger. They can also be much more expensive to operate long-term as they are not eligible for lower, off-peak kWh pricing. 

Estimating the Cost of Running a Space Heater
We used TWEC’s Kill-A-Watt meter to figure out how many kWhs our space heater was using. Our heater used 1,500 watts on the high setting. To calculate our usage we used this formula: Watts/1,000 x Hours = kWh usage. We wanted to know the cost of usage for one hour on high and our usage came to 1.5 kWh. When multiplied by TWEC’s 11.5¢ rate per kilowatt-hour, we found it costs 17.3¢ per hour to run our heater on high. 

Now we can see what impact a space heater is having on our monthly bill. In this example, a space heater that uses 1,500 watts and operates 24 hours each day at 11.5¢ per kilowatt-hour costs $4.14 per day to operate. If you run it for 30 days, that would add $124.20 to your monthly bill! 

Using Your Space Heater Safely

  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet from flammable items such as curtains, furniture, or bedspreads.
  • Select a space heater with a guard around the heating element.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended.
  • Never go to sleep with a space heater on.
  • Never use or store flammable liquids near a space heater.
  • Always keep heaters a safe distance from water to prevent electrocution.
  • Do not use an extension cord with a space heater.
  • Do not use the heater to dry clothes.
  • Be sure the heater’s plug fits snugly in an outlet. The cord and plug may feel warm when operating since the unit draws so much power, but they should not feel hot. If they do, unplug the heater and have a qualified repair person check for problems.
  • Do not attempt to repair a broken heater yourself. It should be checked and repaired by a qualified appliance service center.