Are Electric Heaters More Efficient than Central Heating?

The cost of heating your home is something that can fluctuate depending on your choice of heating system. Especially during the winter, the cost of heating your home can get pretty pricey. Finding ways to cut these costs can save you money, but it is something that needs to be thought through. Many people feel that their home could be heated properly with just a few electric space heaters placed throughout the house. This can be true, yet there are many factors to ponder before making this decision. Your house might be too big, too small, have too many rooms, too many windows, or be too drafty, no matter what the situation all of these aspects need to be put into consideration before deciding to cut your furnace off and buy a bunch of electric heaters. In the right type of situation, through thoughtful and strategic placement of electric heaters, efficiency will be increased and money saved. Here is a comparison of electric space heating and central heating with all the advantages and disadvantages of both, as well as, some important variables that will help you make the right choice.

Storage Heater

  1. Central Heating
  • Central heating is usually set up through a natural gas pipeline connected to a furnace, which provides heat through a system of ducts going to every room in the home. Most homes have vents that can be closed in order to divert heat to the other rooms. The problem with this is that some of these vents cannot be completely sealed, and even when closed still leak heat into a room where it is not needed. This is a problem because you shouldn’t have to pay to have a room heated when it is not necessary.
  • Central heating in your home can be adjustedwith a thermostat which makes it possible for the heat to turn on at whatever temperature fits your comfort level. This allows you to have control over the amount of heat used in your home, but when it is on it is still being vented into rooms that may not need heat. If you spend the majority of time in your house in the living room, yet there are vents in your basementwhich are completely unnecessary, then you’re are wasting energy and money by heating it. Also, when heat is distributed all throughout your house the air will get colder faster, so if it is going into rooms where it is not needed it is still affecting the temperature of the room you are in because it is being dispersed throughout.
  • Efficiency ranges for different types of central heating systems indicate that natural gas heating systems are in the 85-97 percent range, oil systems are in the 80 to 89 percent range, with coal bringing up the rear in the 45 to 60 percent range. This is where central heating really shines when compared to electric space heaters, especially to environmentally conscious consumers. This is because central heating systems that run off natural gas are getting the most out of the energy they consume. While electric heaters get their energy from power plants using the same limited fossil fuels, but up to two-thirds of that fossil fuel energy is lost traveling through the power lines between the power station and arriving at your house.
  1. Electric Heating
  • Electric heaters allow you to heat only the rooms which are in need of it. Being vigilant by making sure this heat does not escape the house can allow you to be comfortable while saving money and using less energy. Electric heaters also allow you to choose which rooms are heated and which are not. Moving from room to room only requires you flip the heater off in one room and flip another on in the next.
  • Buying the right electric heater is an important decision. Space heaters that implement a fan are the best option. It not only heats the room, but utilizes a fan to circulate the heated air throughout it. If you’re not careful you could inadvertently buy a heater that does not include a fan. These heaters simply heat the area right in front of it. If you are not directly facing that heater you will get cold fast because there is nothing to push that hot air around the room.
  • If you have pets or small children make sure that if you are heating rooms with space heaters that fire detectors are installed and working in those rooms. All too often space heaters are knocked over resulting in damaging fires. When purchasing an electric space heater buy one with an automatic shut off that is activated when they are tipped over. Also, make sure outlets are up to code and never use an extension cord.
  1. Combination of Both
  • Many experts say that in order to be the most cost effective and energy efficient it may be best to use a combination of your central heating system and an electric portable heater. This is especially true if your central heating system runs on electricity. If this is the case buying a natural gas, propane, or kerosene space heater may be your best bet.

Final Thoughts

Electric heaters can be more efficient than central heating, but only if you are heating rooms that are small and no more than two at a time. If you don’t fit into this category it is best to stick with your central heating system. This is mainly because electricity is simply much more expensive than natural gas. In order to compete with the effectiveness and cost benefits of natural gas, the electric heaters would have to be set up and attended to in the most efficient manner possible. People with busy schedules and don’t spend a lot of time at home are better off with their thermostats and central heat.