Are Portable Heaters Expensive to Run?

portable heaters

Trying to get through a cold winter without any kind of central heating is rough, to say the least. In addition, not every home has a radiator that can provide warmth. People can suffer all kinds of negative health effects if they can’t mitigate the cold. 

Portable heaters are one solution that can provide heat to a small space without breaking the bank. But how expensive are they to run over long periods of time? 

Here’s what you need to know about the cost of a portable heater and how much it costs to run them. 

Cost of Portable Heater Purchase

First of all, you need to consider the initial cost of a portable heater and the type you purchase before you can calculate how much energy it uses. Smaller ones will use less energy but produce much less heat. Larger ones with more features will have a higher price tag but often run more efficiently. 

The three main types of space heaters you’ll encounter are convection, radiant, and combination ones. 

If you’re looking for something portable, then that’ll most likely be a radiant or combination heater. Radiant heaters work by heating people and objects in the room. Combination heaters can produce heat as well as function as a normal fan. 

Since these only work in one room at a time, you’ll then have to decide if you only want one or if you need multiple. You can always move a single portable heater into other rooms with you. However, you may prefer to have multiple set up throughout your home. 

Cost to Run Portable Heaters

How much does it actually cost to run portable heaters, though? Even though you may have plenty of electronic appliances in your home, you rarely run them more than a few times a day. A fridge runs the most, but it’s also built to keep out heat. 

Meanwhile, a heater is meant to run for extended periods of time with each use. How much it costs you will depend on how many watts it uses, how long you run it, the built-in settings, and your state’s electricity rates. 

Heating Cost Per Watts

The number of watts used up by your heater will determine how much energy is used and how much heat is produced.

Some more affordable space heaters only offer a low and a high setting. The lower setting starts at around 750 watts, while the higher one may be double that. Then there are more powerful options that go as high as 3,000 watts or more. 

In comparison, a domestic fridge’s power consumption is about 1 to 2 kilowatt-hours per day. 

How Long You Run It

Another consideration is how much you’ll use your space heater. It takes a varying amount of time to heat up an area based on the heater and the room size.

At worst, you’re looking at running the device for a few hours on and off throughout the day. If you only use it at night, you’ll want to set the heater to turn off automatically or it’ll keep running until you wake up.

Higher quality heaters can be run 24 hours a day safely, as they should have some level of temperature control and overheat protection.

Space Heater Settings

Special features on your heater are designed to both save you money as well as increase overall safety. 

The ones that save you money primarily do so by limiting “on” time. An internal thermometer automatically shuts off the device when the room reaches the temperature you desire. It should also turn off if it gets tipped over or begins to overheat. 

More expensive models will also have features like a timer or allow you to set a schedule in advance. 

State Electricity Cost

The final factor affecting cost is your individual state’s electric rates. Each state charges differently.

For example, the average retail price of electricity in Alabama was about 10.18 cents/kWh. In New York, that amount was 16.11 cents/kWh. That’s more than a 50 percent increase in cost, which adds up over time. 

Space Heater vs Fireplace

An alternative to a space heater that you might want to consider is a fireplace. Fireplaces have a long history, and for a good reason. Modern ones bring a lot more convenience, affordability, and safety to homes than traditional models. 


In general, space heaters are more convenient. They’re easy to replace if they break down and can be plugged in with ease. 

However, there are some electric fireplaces that don’t require a chimney or length installation. Ventless gas fireplaces also rely on indoor air for combustion and don’t use a chimney or flue. 

Price Point

The majority of portable heaters are pretty affordable. More expensive models are usually larger and are meant to serve bigger rooms. 

A fireplace will cost you more due to the fact that they need to be installed. However, the benefit is that they can increase your property value and also serve as a decoration.

Safety and Functionality

The ease and safety of operating a fireplace or space heater will depend on the type you get. Wood fireplaces are the most traditional, but you need to know how to use them. Some electric fireplaces function much like space heaters and have automatic turn-off features. 

A major drawback of a space heater is that it requires electricity. If your power goes off during the winter, there’s not much you can do unless you have a generator. A gas or wood fireplace doesn’t suffer the same issue. 

Try An Alternative to Portable Heaters

If you’re trying to heat an entire home, then portable heaters aren’t the best option. You’d have to buy multiple ones and run them constantly to fight off the cold. You could end up doubling your electricity bill that way if you’re not careful. 

Instead, Dreifuss Fireplaces can hook you up with a fireplace solution that can benefit your entire building. We offer our services for both commercial and residential applications. Contact us to learn more.

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