The Definitive Guide: What is the Cheapest Space Heater to Run?

When it comes to heating your home or office, finding the most cost-effective space heater can make a significant difference in your energy bills. This comprehensive guide will delve into the technical details and provide you with the information you need to determine the cheapest space heater to run.

Understanding Space Heater Efficiency and Wattage

The key factors that determine the running cost of a space heater are its wattage and energy efficiency. Wattage refers to the amount of power the heater consumes, while energy efficiency measures how effectively the heater converts that power into heat.

Wattage Comparison

Space heaters typically range from 500 watts to 1,500 watts. Here’s a breakdown of the wattage and associated hourly running costs:

Wattage Hourly Cost (at $0.16/kWh)
500W $0.08
750W $0.12
1000W $0.16
1500W $0.24

As you can see, the higher the wattage, the more expensive the heater will be to operate. Therefore, choosing a space heater with the lowest wattage that still meets your heating needs is crucial for minimizing running costs.

Energy Efficiency Ratings

In addition to wattage, the energy efficiency of a space heater plays a significant role in its running costs. Space heaters are typically classified into the following efficiency categories:

  1. Halogen Heaters: These heaters are known for their immediate warmth and relatively low power consumption, making them one of the most cost-effective options. They typically have an efficiency rating of around 85-90%.

  2. Ceramic Heaters: Ceramic heaters are slightly less efficient than halogen heaters, with an efficiency rating of 80-85%. However, they are still considered a relatively energy-efficient choice.

  3. Oil-Filled Radiators: Oil-filled radiators are praised for their excellent heat retention and thermostatic control, which can lead to significant energy savings. They typically have an efficiency rating of 90-95%.

  4. Electric Space Heaters: Traditional electric space heaters, such as baseboard or wall-mounted units, have an efficiency rating of around 75-80%. While they are generally less efficient than other options, they can still be a cost-effective choice for small spaces.

When selecting a space heater, it’s essential to consider both the wattage and the energy efficiency rating to ensure you’re getting the most cost-effective option for your needs.

Calculating the Running Cost of Space Heaters

what is the cheapest space heater to run

To determine the actual running cost of a space heater, you’ll need to consider the following factors:

  1. Wattage: As discussed earlier, the higher the wattage, the more expensive the heater will be to operate.

  2. Electricity Cost: The cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in your area will directly impact the running cost of your space heater. The national average electricity rate in the United States is around $0.16/kWh, but this can vary significantly by region.

  3. Usage Time: The number of hours per day and days per month you use the space heater will also affect the overall running cost.

To calculate the running cost, you can use the following formula:

Running Cost = (Wattage / 1000) x Electricity Cost x Usage Time

For example, let’s say you have a 750-watt space heater and you use it for 8 hours per day, 30 days per month, with an electricity cost of $0.16/kWh. The calculation would be:

Running Cost = (750 / 1000) x $0.16 x (8 hours x 30 days)
            = 0.75 x $0.16 x 240 hours
            = $28.80 per month

This means that the monthly running cost for a 750-watt space heater used for 8 hours per day would be approximately $28.80, assuming an electricity rate of $0.16/kWh.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Cheapest Space Heater

When selecting the cheapest space heater to run, there are several additional factors to consider:

Room Size and Heating Needs

The size of the room or area you need to heat will determine the appropriate wattage and type of space heater. Smaller spaces may only require a 500-watt or 750-watt heater, while larger areas may need a 1,000-watt or 1,500-watt model. Choosing a heater that is too small for the space may result in insufficient heating, while a heater that is too large will consume more energy than necessary.

Heating Efficiency and Thermostat Control

As mentioned earlier, the energy efficiency of the space heater is crucial for minimizing running costs. Look for models with high efficiency ratings, such as halogen or oil-filled radiators. Additionally, features like thermostatic control can help maintain a consistent temperature, reducing energy consumption.

Safety Considerations

Space heaters can pose fire and safety risks if not used properly. Look for models with built-in safety features, such as automatic shut-off, tip-over protection, and cool-to-the-touch exteriors. Proper placement and usage of the space heater are also essential for ensuring a safe and cost-effective heating solution.

Supplementary Heating Strategies

In addition to choosing the most efficient space heater, consider implementing supplementary heating strategies to further reduce your energy costs. This may include:

  • Insulating your home or office to minimize heat loss
  • Closing off unused rooms or areas to focus the heating on the occupied spaces
  • Using a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature based on your schedule

By combining an energy-efficient space heater with these supplementary strategies, you can maximize your cost savings and ensure a comfortable, well-heated environment.


Determining the cheapest space heater to run involves a careful consideration of wattage, energy efficiency, room size, and usage patterns. By understanding these factors and using the provided calculations, you can make an informed decision that will help you save on your energy bills while keeping your space warm and comfortable.

Remember, the key to finding the most cost-effective space heater is to balance your heating needs with energy efficiency and safety. With the right space heater and a few supplementary strategies, you can enjoy a cozy, energy-efficient home or office all year round.