Wait, how much does it cost to run a space heater?

Feelin' the heat 🔥

Two white space heaters on purple and blue background
(Image credit: Future)

Winter will be here before ya know it bestie, which means temperatures will be dipping. You’ll be switching off your air conditioning and turning up the heater. However, the cost of heating an entire house or apartment can be hella expensive depending on the square footage. Fortunately, space heaters are here to save the day! 

These often accessibly-priced small appliances are useful for heating spaces such as bedrooms, dining rooms, and home offices. They can often be less expensive to run than your typical heating system.

Space heaters are helpful to keep on hand when two people living in the same house or apartment have different temperature preferences, making them a good idea for roommates and couples. If the person who prefers it warmer is in the bedroom and the person who prefers cooler temperatures is in the living room—everyone can be comfortable.

Here’s how much it costs to run a space heater as well as some practical tips. 

How much does it cost to run a space heater?

According to Colby Lund, Licensed General Contractor from Simply Sam Organization + Design, using a heater to solely heat a room can vary depending on the size of the space and the type of heater, but you can expect to spend $0.50 to $2.00 on average per day.  

According to the Energy Information Administration, the average cost of heating a home with natural gas heating is approximately $931 for the winter. On the other hand, the cost of heating a home with oil heat will be $1200. Electric heating is estimated to be $1359, while propane heating costs $1688. 

However, these statistics should be taken with a grain of salt because the cost is contingent on the size of a home, how often you run the heat, and how high you turn up the thermostat.  

How to save money by running a space heater

While space heaters are a great way to save cash, there are ways to stretch your dollar even further. 

“To save, we suggest getting a timed plug where you can have set times. For example, we have used a space heater in our bedroom and turned it on two hours before bed, and then on again around 6:00 am, and that seems to make us comfortable and warm without overheating,” says Lund.

A timed plug can be pretty inexpensive as well, with options on Amazon for as low as $6.99. Another option to consider is a smart plug that can be connected to a system such as Alexa and controlled with an app.  

Keep safety in mind

If space heaters are run improperly, they can be fire hazards. “As a contractor, we always suggest safer heating options, as space heaters can be unsafe,” says Lund.

It’s crucial to make sure there is nothing in front of the space heater and nothing can fall on top of it, as it could cause a fire. 

“You want to ensure they are safely used and not placed directly up against an item within the room,” says Jeffrey Palla, President of Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly company.

Palla also suggests keeping your space heater free from dust and debris. He recommends having at least three feet of space around the heater to assure both safety and efficiency. 

“You want to use them in places where children and pets cannot touch them or knock them over. It is also important to have space between the heater and the surrounding environment.” 

How to choose the right types of space heater

There are different types of space heaters to choose from. One type is a fan heater. “They blow heat over a heating source out into a room, [but are] the least efficient and should be used for individual heating,” says Palla.

If you’re looking for a safer option, Pall suggests using a ceramic heater. “This type of space heater uses heated ceramic materials to heat the area.”

Another choice is electric infrared, especially if you are prioritizing efficiency. “These heaters use infrared radiation as a heat source. They are more efficient than ceramic and fan heaters.”

Lastly, oil-filled heaters are electric and heat the oil in the heater to warm a room. Palla tells me, “They are quiet and provide a consistent heat experience.”

Amanda Lauren

Hi, I’m Amanda Lauren. I’m a design expert and interior stylist who writes for Real Homes, Forbes, Real Simple among other publications. I live in Los Angeles in the historic neighborhood of Hancock Park with my husband, and two dogs, Lulu and Milo. We also have a baby coming in spring 2023. I’m a big believer in finding beautiful things at all price points. There are so many places to find affordable things, you just have to look for them. If you don't find it at first, look harder!