Space Heaters

The 5 Heater Types That Are The Cheapest To Run

Radiant Heater Lg

In the late October breeze, you know winter is coming. It will not be too much longer until you have to get that winter stuff out from the basement or storage area. Many homeowners wonder what the best heater is with a specific type of radiator (like ceramic and oil-filled heaters.) But, other consumers wonder what kind of heaters are the cheapest to run.

There are a few things to remember when determining the cheapest route. First, the placement of the heater matters. The second reason is that since space heaters are supposed to supplement heat to your home instead of heating up the house, this will also take into account. It is not wise to have a home thermostat at 80+ degrees, then turn your portable heaters on throughout the house. 

We will be going over many things, such as how much it would cost to run an electric heater compared to a gas-operated heater. Other subjects will include different radiators that are the cheapest to run and how you can save energy in your home this winter. Overall, this will guide you to know which direction to take for your heater!

Will Your Heater Be A Seasonal Or Permanent Solution?

Sometimes, you will need a heater permanently instead of simply seasonal, especially if your area has all four seasons. However, this is not always the case. Either way, this is something we need to take into consideration. 

If your household only needs a seasonal heater, you already know they will need storage space for springtime and summer, then brought out at the end of fall.

These heaters, which we are talking about today, are typically very affordable and, in most cases, come in electric form. However, there are other radiators you can consider as well, such as oil-filled and infrared. 

Although most of these heaters are lovely for homes, they will not save much if you find a permanent heating solution within your home. If this is the case, you are looking at units that are much larger and costly upfront but heat larger areas, even if they rely on propane or natural gas heating. 

How Electric Energy Is Measured

Electrical energy is listed by the kilowatt per hour, or kWh. According to Choose Energy, the average rate across the United States is 13.71 cents per kilowatt-hour as of August 2021. This is regularly updated and goes by each state. If you wish to look over what to expect in your general area, click the link above. 

However, based on these rates, you can quickly gauge how much a 1500-watt electric heater will use in a day, month, or even a year if you use a space heater year-round. 

Using a space heater for roughly 8 hours a day would cost a rough estimate of $1.09 per day or $32.70 monthly. If you live in Oklahoma, you will pay less than a dollar daily.

How Natural Gas Energy Is Measured

Since we got electricity out of the way, it is time to start talking about natural gas. This is important because some space heaters use this method to heat your space. Unlike electric, natural gas is measured a bit differently. 

In this retrospect, natural gas is measured by volume and is declared in cubic feet. A cubic foot is essentially the unit needed to fill an amount of one cubic foot. This is set under pressure and temperature. To measure a large amount of natural gas, a therm indicates 100 cubic feet, and an mcf will tell 1000 cubic feet. 

If you want better accuracy, energy is measured in a term called British Thermal Units, or BTUs. A BTU will help measure the heat required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. 

Just like we mentioned with electric energy, natural gas energy will differ depending on what location you live within your country.

However, one cubic foot will equate to 1000 BTUs. So, if you were to have a 1500-watt gas space heater, you will be using 5100 BTUs (or just above five cubic feet.)

Which Type Of Heater Is Cheapest to Run?

One of the many reasons we want to know more about how much a heater would initially cost us is to budget for those specific months. Asking what type of heater is relatively cheapest to run is an excellent question. 

First and foremost, placement will matter when it comes to these situations. This is because the heater could overwork in a place with many drafts instead of somewhere that does not have much of a drafty area. Always check your windows to see if there is a draft nearby. 

If you feel there is a draft or crack in the house somewhere, it is essential to ensure the cracks are completely sealed off or at least have something that will block it, such as plastic on the windows or a towel on the windowsills. Another option is to purchase window sealant to save you the trouble later down the road.

As the draft goes away, you will soon realize that the heater will not work as hard, hence using less electricity.

Portable Electric Heater Lg

1. Electric Heaters

The first one on our list is electric heaters. Electric heaters are a viable option because they are one of the most affordable radiators. Many of these options come with products that provide tip-over protection and automatically turn off the device and start overheating, preventing fires from occurring.

However, although they are a great alternative to a gas-based system, they are often more expensive depending on how often you use them and where you live. So, in this case, it is always a good idea to use them accordingly. 

The good news about this heater is that although it may not save on energy bills, you will not have to worry about dealing with tanks or gas companies making trips out to your home, which may be worth the extra expenses on your bills due to the low-maintenance that is required. 

Advantages & Disadvantages Of An Electric Heater

Affordable for someone who wants it quick and easy.It can cause some health issues, especially if you are prone to allergies or have asthma. This is due to the constant fan circulation these heaters have, thus causing a lot of dust to build up over time. 
No maintenance is required. Most electric heaters are ready to use.It needs insulation to work correctly. 
Provides quick heating.Fan heaters have exposed elements, which could potentially cause a fire. 
Easily transportable. 
Conserve energy due to heating up efficiently.

Here is a good space heater available that is electric:

Safest Small Space Heater
Honeywell UberHeat Ceramic Personal Heater

Honeywell’s UberHeat Ceramic Personal Heater is a 1500-watt, adjustable thermostat and tip-over switch personal heater.

The UberHeat features overheat protection, cool touch housing, and an overheat safety shut-off. It also features an easy carry handle for portability from room to room or office to cubicle!

Honeywell’s UberHeat is the perfect personal heater for any home or office space.

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This ceramic space heater will provide a good 1500 watts of heat. The low setting uses less electricity and is more energy-efficient.

On top of that, this small space heater has some safety features, including tip-over protection, an adjustable thermostat, a cool-to-the-touch exterior, and an overheat protection switch. If it gets too hot, it will automatically turn off to prevent fires from occurring.

Oil Heater Lg

2. Oil-filled Heaters

Oil radiators are unique because they do not use fans to help warm the area. Instead, they use it exactly as the name of it is–oil. This oil is in a tightly sealed case that has coils.

Once you turn the radiator on, the oil will heat itself and release warmth through the coils provided. The best part is that once you turn the oil-filled heater off, it will remain warmed up for quite some time.

Unlike a fan heater that has a direction, it will provide heat. An oil-filled heater will warm the area up much more slowly and evenly. You do not have to worry about going beside it to get warmth for your body but turn this bad boy on, and your entire body will always remain warm. 

Ensure you keep all drafty areas sealed up tightly to keep the heat in that generalized area. Some homeowners with a rather ample living space will get two for better heating or place the radiator somewhere more centralized. 

Advantages & Disadvantages Of An Oil-filled Heater

It can be left on overnight.Slow to warm a room. Some heaters can take up to 1-2 hours to heat the entire area.
Longer-lasting warmth.It can be heavy to haul around from room to room, so purchase one with a set of wheels for easier access. 
Quiet and will not make noises except for clicking at the beginning.Not suitable for larger areas. As mentioned before, some owners will get two if they have a larger space.
Low environmental impact. 
Perfect for bedrooms, offices, and small to medium-sized living areas. 

Here is a good space heater available that is oil-filled:

Safest Space Heater - Top Pick
De'Longhi Full Room Radiant Heater
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This De’Longhi heater has a 24-hour programmable timer and an anti-freeze setting. Not only that, but this heater will automatically turn off once temperatures drop below 44 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Overall, this heater has 25% more air to flow through and is silent, which is terrific if you wish for your household to remain quiet. The safety features offered in the De’Longhi include tip-over protection because of its wide feet. 

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3. Halogen Heaters

These heaters work very much like infrared heating. They will heat objects as opposed to the generalized area. This means that all things, including yourself, will be heated instead of a fan, like most electric heaters. They work best if pointed towards you or in a focused direction. 

Many customers will note that Halogen heaters are an excellent choice because they will save energy. Unlike convection heaters, you will not have to worry about whether or not you have a drafty window or an open door. Radiant heat does not focus on warming the air, so it will not matter if the air leaves the room. 

Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Halogen Heater

Saves you a lot of energy costs. Only heats specific areas that the heater is pointed to. 
Easy to install. Not ideal for space heating, especially if the space is relatively large. 
It can be left on overnight. 
Good for the environment. 
It does not release smoke into the air, so carbon monoxide will never be an issue. 

Here is a good space heater available that is a halogen heater:

Best For Small Workshops
Comfort Zone Fan-Assisted Tower Radiant Quartz Heater
$64.69 $61.45

The Comfort Zone Fan-Assisted Tower Radiant Quartz Heater has a dual quartz tube that produces instant heat and a fan-assisted design to warm the surrounding area. The remote control allows you to adjust the temperature across the room.

Two top-mounted control knobs allow you to switch between high and low-temperature settings. The overheat protection automatically shuts off the unit.

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Comfort Zone is an excellent halogen heater because it heats quickly and thoroughly. The dual quartz tubes will turn on and immediately emit a warm glow when used.

It also comes with nifty and safety features such as:

  • Metal housing.
  • Stay-cool molded handle.
  • Tip-over switch protection.
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Fan-assisted heat.
  • Top-mounted control center
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4. Infrared Panel Heaters Running Costs

These radiators are similar to halogen heaters, but the only difference is slim. Infrared portable heaters will warm a larger area and contain no glowing elements. These heaters can be used portably and can be placed on a stand. However, they will work better being on a wall or ceiling mounted. 

Once again, infrared heaters are perfect for drafty areas since they do not heat the air. If you have an older house that struggles with keeping the warm air inside, infrared heaters are an excellent choice to purchase due to this reason. However, you should be careful if your generalized area has a lot of glass. 

Advantages & Disadvantages Of An Infrared Heater

Quiet and does not make any noise. This is perfect if you do not wish to have any white noise in the background.It can be hot to the touch. 
Heats rather quickly and instantly. It stops heating immediately after turning off. 
It can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Infrared heaters do not cause any health issues. Infrared heating is rather good for your health.
Does not dry the air. 
It can be left on overnight. 
Low maintenance. 

Here is a good space heater available for infrared heaters:

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Infrared Space Heater

The Dr Infrared Heater is a unique hybrid heating system that quickly and evenly heats your room to a comfortable temperature.

UL- and Canada-certified, it's safe around children and pets and features an Energy saving ECO Mode. With high- and low-wattage settings, the Dr Infrared Heater is perfect for any space.

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Dr. Infrared comes in with a good hybrid dual system that includes a PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) and infrared radiation, providing a much higher heating output.

The thermostat will regulate the heater and automatically cycles on and off to maintain a temperature of 50 to 86 degrees.

Safety features include an overheat shut-off switch, a 12-hour auto-off timer, and standard tip-over protection. 

Storage Heater Lg

5. Storage Heater Running Costs

Now, you may or may not have heard of a storage heater. One might think, “what on EARTH is that?” If you have ever been to a hotel and seen a fan and heater combination on the wall right by the large window, there is your answer. These heaters are meant to be placed on the wall and do you good in the long run.

One of the main downfalls to these heaters is that they will quickly become old-fashioned and out of style, so if you do not care for this, we suggest going for this option. A storage heater should last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, which is more than the average lifespan of an electric heater.

So how are they energy-efficient, you might ask? Well, unlike many other heaters we have listed today, a storage heater will have two main differences:

Firstly, it will operate on an Economy 7/10 tariff system. This is where it will give you a cheaper electricity rate during the nighttime. One set of numbers will show a daytime electricity output on your electric bill, and the other will display a low or evening electricity usage. 

Secondly, it is not portable, so ensure you find where you wish to keep this heater. As you may already know from sleeping at that hotel, these heaters are very powerful, as they can either be extremely cold or super hot, so this is essential. 

Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Storage Heater

Provides Economy 7/10, which, as we learned, gives off lower electricity rates.Heat can be lost when charging overnight. 
It can be a much cheaper way to heat your home. They are not portable.
These heaters keep the house warm during the early morning and nighttime.Heavy and bulky, they take up more floor space than portable heaters.
Installation is relatively easy compared to newer central heating systems. Dust is released from the heater when the fan blows to transfer heat.
Little to no maintenance is required. Not suitable for someone who has asthma because they burn the air.
No pipework or boilers are required. Heat is released in the daytime, whether the area needs it.
Controls can be a bit complicated to use.

Here is a good space heater available for a storage heater:

Elnur High Heat Retention Storage Heater

Being one of the few available, the Elnur storage heater comes with a 12-year warranty and is incredibly energy efficient. It has double high heat retention materials on all sides of this heater. 

Not only that, but this heater comes with an open window detection for reduced energy waste and can manage the charge and discharge with its IEM technology.

Other Ways To Cut Down On Energy-Costs

Although there are cheaper heaters to run during the wintertime, you may be looking to save money in other areas aside from just your space heater. So, we have put together a list of things to do around your home to save energy costs. This is especially good if you live in an older home or space. 

1. Replace Air Filters

Changing your air filter every month or month will ensure your AC and heater are working correctly. Dirty filters will cause a blockage in your heating system, making it much harder to work than it should. Having a clean air filter allows the air to flow appropriately and thoroughly.

2. Find Leaks & Seal Them Off

Cold air leakages will cause your heaters to work harder than they should. The only exception is if you have a propane or infrared heater. However, sealing and fixing these cracks is always an excellent choice. Most of the drafts may come from your windows and doorways. You can seal these off with weather-stripping or caulk for better insulation.  

3. Use A Programmable Thermostat

Setting your thermostat as low as possible allows your household to save money. Ensure to reduce the heat by a few degrees whenever you are not home or sleeping. You can even invest in an adjustable thermostat that would allow you to change it when you are not there.

When you are ending your day from work, you can easily do this by going on your phone and adjusting the thermostat accordingly during the transitional time from somewhere to coming home to work.

4. Check The Heater’s Efficiency 

If you notice that the heating system will need to be repaired regularly, it would be wise to invest in a better heating operation system. Not only will this solution be hassle-free, but you will not be investing so much in trying to fix your system constantly! 

5. Use Energy-efficient Holiday Lights

Another excellent way to keep the costs down this coming winter is to purchase LED lights if you wish to light the house up during the holidays. They may cost a bit more during the initial purchase, but they save a ton of energy due to the number of wattages they use instead of regular lights. 

6. Check The Fireplace

If you have a fireplace, the odds are you are or are not using it. Ensure to seal the entire thing off if you do not use it, and keep the damper closed when it is not in use. Close the door that leads into the room when a fire is kindled and lower the thermostat. Since you use a fireplace, your household’s generalized electricity does not need to work that hard. 

7. Cover Drafty Windows

Drafty and old windows will undoubtedly make your home’s electricity work harder than usual. As I mentioned a bit ago, you may have older windows if your home is older. Covering these windows up with plastic sheets or using a towel to cover up the cracks on the windowsills may be your best bet.

Another more expensive option would be to replace your windows, but we suggest doing this only if this is your forever home or if you will live in this space for quite some time. 

8. Use The Sun To Your Advantage

Opening your windows when the sun is at its peak or facing a specific direction will allow the generalized area to heat up naturally. It is excellent to note that you must close the curtains during the evening to protect your home from losing heat. 

9. Consider Ductless Mini-split Heating Systems

Last but not least, one of the many ways you can save energy is by using a ductless mini-split system. If you notice any uneven warmth from around your home, this will allow you to control each room’s temperature. This system is easy to install and extremely energy-efficient. 

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Is It Cheaper To Have Heating On Low All Day?

One of the biggest questions for heating your household is if it is cheaper or more expensive to leave your heat running all day, even at home.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, this idea is a myth, and it would be a lot better if you turn your heat on only when you need it to be on instead.

This is because when you keep your heat on, you are losing energy. In my personal experience, I have noticed putting my heater on low heat (65 to 70 degrees) helps my household save energy in the long run. However, I have a relatively small home, so it may differ from others. Over time, you will learn what works best for your household. 

Final Thoughts

Five different heaters are the cheapest to run, but remember, the price will always differ depending on your location. However, these heaters are halogen, infrared, electric, oil-filled, and storage heaters.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.