Mary has discovered one of the best ways to reduce your home
heating bill. Only heat the rooms that are occupied. Especially when there's
only one person at home and they're only using one or two rooms. And the
simplest way to heat a room is to use a portable electric space heater.
Space heaters convert almost all of the electric used into heat.
In that, they're very efficient. Unfortunately, electricity is often made from
gas, oil or coal. And only about 30% of the energy used goes into electricity.
So while you probably wouldn't want to use electric to heat your
whole house in a cold climate, it's often the most cost efficient method for
heating a smaller area. According the Central Maine Power Company the average
cost of an electric heater is 13 cents per hour.
Mary is also wise to be concerned about safety. Space heaters
can be dangerous. Even deadly. Especially if you have small children. Safety
features are an important part of the purchase decision. Make sure that you read
and follow the instructions.
Space heaters generally provide heat in one of two ways. Radiant
heaters actually heat the objects at which they're aimed. They do not heat up
the air in the room. The other type, convection heaters, warm the air around
Not heating the air is an advantage for radiant heaters. There's
no drafts from moving air. And radiant heat is great for heating just portions
of a room. You're only heating the areas where you want heat. Just point the
radiant heater at the chair that you're sitting in!
Radiant heaters use a variety of heating elements. Many use
quartz tubes. Quartz heaters generally cost less than $70 and are rated between
750 and 1500 watts.
Parabolic heaters use a ceramic core. They cost a little more
than quartz and put out about the same amount of heat per watt used. Ceramic
element heaters are safer than heaters with coils. They use a larger heating
area so it doesn't need to be as hot.
Halogen or reflective heaters use an energy saving halogen bulb
to produce heat which is reflected on nearby objects. The feeling is much like
having the sun shine on you.
Convection heaters can heat a whole room more quickly than a
radiant heater. That works well if there are a number of people in the room or
they're moving about within the room. Some convection heaters also have fans to
circulate the air in the room.
Convection heaters are inexpensive. You'll get one rated up to
5,000 Btu's for less than $50.
Like radiant heaters, convection heaters use a variety of
heating elements. Ceramic disc heaters cost up to $150 and produce up to 5,000
Btu's per hour.
Oil and water filled units are the most efficient convection
heaters. They utilize a heating element in a bath of oil or water. Like a water
heater, the element cycles on and off. The water or oil stays warm in it's
container and heats the surrounding air.
So which heater is best for Mary? Since she's considering a
nighttime application people won't be moving around. So she's probably best
choosing a radiant heater for each occupied bedroom. And, unless she has young
children with inquisitive hands, the halogen or ceramic heater will provide more
heat per kilowatt hour of electricity. Whatever Mary picks we hope that her
utility bill won't be the hottest thing in her home this winter!
Gary Foreman is the editor of The Dollar
Stretcher.com website. You'll find thousands of articles
to help you stretch your dollar and your day!