Most Energy Efficient Space Heater Buying Reviews & Guide 2019

What is the most energy efficient electric heater?

Three types of space heater are considered energy efficient.

In the guide below, we discuss the differences in these heater types.

The key question is which is the most efficient for your purposes. The Guide will help you decide.

Here’s a snapshot of the most efficient electric heater types:

  • Radiant– Immediate heat. Best for warming people directly in front of the heater. A few have fans.
  • Ceramic – Slower to heat. They’re portable, so are the best type for moving from room to room. Most have fans.
  • Oil-filled – Slowest to heat. Best for longer heating of an entire room. The oil stores heat, so continues to give off heat after turned off. Quiet because they don’t have fans.

Most Energy Efficient Electric Heater Reviews

We’ve chosen the best electric heaters in each of the three types – the 9 most efficient electric heaters.

Safety Note: They all have basic safety features for their heater type, safe operation isn’t mentioned in the “pros” below unless it is a unique feature.

Here’s the list. The reviews are below.

      Radiant Electric Heaters

Duraflame 9HM8101-O142

  • 1500W, 5,200 BTUs
  • Overheat Shutoff
  • Remote control, Thermostat

Large Room (infrared)

Duraflame 5HM8000-O142

  • 1500W, 5,200 BTUs
  • Tip-Over And Overheat Protection
  • Oscillation, Small footprint

Oscillating Infrared

Heat Storm Phoenix

  • 1500/750W, 2 Settings
  • HMS Technology
  • Remote Control

Wall Mounting

      Ceramic Electric Heaters

Honeywell Slim Tower Heater

  • 1500/750W, 2 Settings
  • Overheating & Tip-Over Protection
  • 1-8hr Timer

Best Tower

Comfort Zone Heater

  • 800, 1000 & 1500W
  • Overheating & Tip-Over Protection
  • Eco Mode, 8hr Timer, Remote

Oscillating Ceramic

Pro Breeze Mini Heater

  • 1500/750W, 2 Settings
  • Overheating & Tip-Over Protection
  • Lightweight And Compact Design

Best Value

Oil-filled Electric Heaters

Pelonis Electric Heater

  • 900 & 1500W + Eco
  • Overheating & Tip-Over Protection
  • 10hr Timer, Remote, Casters

Best Features

NewAir Electric Oil-Filled

  • 900W, 1500W, Eco Mode
  • Digital Thermostat, 10hr Timer
  • Overheating & Tip-Over Protection

 For Large Room (oil)

Trustech 700W Mini Oil Heater

  • 700W
  • Overheat Shutoff
  • Light and Quiet

For Small Room

2019 Most Energy Efficient Electric Heaters


Radiant Electric Heaters

Best for Large Rooms

#1 Duraflame 9HM8101-O142 Portable Infrared Heater

This is the top-rated heater in its class. It remains cool to the touch and won’t dry out the air like some electric heaters. Casters make it easy to roll. It has an overheat sensor on the plug – a unique safety feature.

  • Pros: Digital thermostat. Timer. Remote. Comfortable heat. Furniture-quality cabinet.
  • Cons: One color choice – oak  
  • Best Use: Living space where it can be directed at the areas most often occupied, like a couch or bed.

Best Oscillating

#2 Duraflame 5HM8000-O142 Portable Electric Infrared Quartz Oscillating Tower Heater

An oscillating feature is nice on an infrared heater because the motion sweeps the room with heating energy. This unit comes in light oak, dark oak and cherry.

  • Pros: Oscillation. Digital thermostat. Fan mode. Small footprint. 3 colors.
  • Cons: Tower heaters tip easier.
  • Best Use: The oscillation makes it ideal for rooms occupied by several people.

Best for Wall Mounting

#3 Heat Storm Phoenix Floor to Wall Infrared Space Heater with Attachable Feet

Heaters on the floor make a room cluttered and can be a trip/fall hazard. This one has attachable feet, but most who buy it mount it on the wall. Two colors plus a WiFi version

  • Pros: 750W/1500W settings. Easy to mount. Kit included. Digital thermostat.
  • Cons: Price of WiFi version
  • Best Use: Offices, kid’s play area, bedroom.

Ceramic Electric Heaters

Best Tower/Small Footprint

#4 Honeywell Slim Ceramic Tower Heater

Save floor space with this top-rated tower heater that is light and portable. Two heat settings for small or large spaces. It oscillates and is a good value.

  • Pros: 750W/1500W. Portable. 1-8hr timer. Programable thermostat.
  • Cons: Tips easier (but has tip-over shutoff).
  • Best Use: Crowded rooms where floorspace is limited – office, small bedroom or living room.

Best Oscillating

#5 Comfort Zone Oscillating Space Heater w/ ECO Mode

This highly rated space heater has all the features for efficiency and comfort. Economy (Eco) mode automatically reduces the heat setting from high to low when the thermostat setpoint is reached. 70-degree oscillation.

  • Pros: Eco mode. 8hr timer. Light/portable. Digital. Remote.
  • Cons: A little tippy.
  • Best Use: Large rooms where people are spread out or any room with limited floorspace.

Best Value

#6 Pro Breeze 1500W Mini Ceramic Space Heater

It’s rare to find a space heater this inexpensive and this highly rated. It has two heat settings and a fan-only mode for cooling and “white noise” for sleeping or studying. Light and portable.

Pros: 750/1500 watts. Fan-only. Compact.

Cons: Thermostat is not digital. Fan is a little loud.

Best Use: Floor or desk/tabletop. Bedroom, den or dorm room. Light enough to take with you from room to room.

Oil-filled Electric Heaters

Best Features

#7 Pelonis Portable Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater

Efficiency features include programable thermostat, 10-hour timer and Eco mode which runs at 1500W until the thermostat setting is met, and then switches to 900W.

  • Pros: 65-85F thermostat. Timer. Remote. Eco mode. Handle & casters.
  • Cons: Heats slowly. No fan to disperse heat.
  • Best Use: All-day heating in living or work areas. Bedrooms – best when turned on an hour before going to bed.

Best for Large Room

#8 NewAir Electric Oil-Filled Space Heater

This unit is nearly identical to the Pelonis model. Different brand, but just as highly rated. Creates 5,100 BTUs per hour when fully warmed up.

  • Pros: Digital Thermostat. 65F to 85F settings. 900W/1500W. Eco mode.  
  • Cons: Warms up slowly.
  • Best Use: Rooms up to 1,000 square feet when heating for 4+ hours is needed.

Best for Small Room

#9 Trustech 700W Portable Mini Radiator Oil Heater

Less wattage means less energy consumption and lower utility costs. This 700W space heater is compact and weighs just 8lbs.

  • Pros: Less energy used. Won’t burn. Compact size fits anywhere.
  • Cons: Manual thermostat.
  • Best Use: Small bedrooms, dorm rooms & offices. Compact enough to fit under a desk.

Guide Section

There are two ways to get efficiency with an electric heater: Buy an efficient model and use it in an efficient manner.

This guide discusses both parts of the equation – The heater you choose and how you use it.

Let’s start with electricity: Just how efficient is it?

How Efficient Is Electric Heat?

“Electric space heaters are 100% efficient.”

That’s a statement made by manufacturers of electric heaters and by most sellers.

And the statement is 100% accurate – sort of.

What it means is that 100% of the electricity entering the space heater is turned into heat. That’s true for all types of electric space heater.

But there is a lot more to that story.

And here it is as told by the DOE: “Electric resistance heating is 100% energy efficient in the sense that all the incoming electric energy is converted to heat. However, most electricity is produced from coal, gas, or oil generators that convert only about 30% of the fuel's energy into electricity. Because of electricity generation and transmission losses, electric heat is often more expensive than heat produced [by] natural gas, propane, and oil.

Did you know? Many studies clearly show that electricity is the most expensive fuel for heating. Costs vary by region of the country.

This table shows national averages.

Type

Daily Cost to Heat 1,000 s.f.

Mini Split Heat Pump

$0.65 - $1.05

Standard Heat Pump

$0.80 - $1.05

Gas Furnace

$1.20 - $2.15

Boiler

$1.45 - $2.30

Electric Space Heater

$1.90 - $2.40

One manufacturer of heating equipment released this list of heating costs by fuel in the Northeast US. Keep in mind that winters are cold and long in that part of the country. Also, propane is quite scarce there. Cost is lower than shown for propane in most of the rest of the country.

One Year Fuel Cost

Type

One Year Fuel Cost

Natural Gas

$1,675

Fuel Oil

$2,121

Propane

$3,451

Geothermal Heat Pump

$1,944

Heat Pump

$3,259

Mini Split Heat Pump

$2,819

Electric Heat

$5,638

Wood Pellet

$1,794

Should you abandon the idea of buying a space heater?

Not yet. When used properly, space heaters can be reasonably efficient. That’s what we talk about next.

Using an Electric Heater Efficiently

This is about the second part of the equation mentioned above – using a space heater in an efficient way.

But using one electric heater, maybe two, as part of an overall plan to reduce energy use is possible with these guidelines:

1. Turn Down the Central Heat & Use a Space heater for One Room at a Time

This is really the best way to use a space heater.

Turn down the central thermostat by 5-10 degrees.

Then, turn on a space heater in the room you’re occupying. Common scenarios include:

  • A bedroom at night
  • A living room, TV or kitchen in the evening – wherever people gather
  • A home office during the day or evening
  • A bathroom that gets a lot of use in the morning as people get ready for the day

Pro tip: If you’re using three or more space heaters at a time, you are probably wasting energy. Turning up the central heating system makes more sense.

2. Use for Supplemental Heat Only

Obviously, your electric bills would skyrocket if you heated your entire home with space heaters. Depending on your climate and the size of your home, it might require 5 to 10 of them.

Instead, electric heaters should be used to aid a central heat system – a gas furnace, heat pump or boiler are the most common types.

Often, one or two rooms don’t get as much heat as the others – a bedroom distant from the furnace, for example. That’s where a space heater can effectively boost the room’s heat to a comfortable level.

Pro tip: If you have three or more rooms that aren’t adequately heated, you should contact an HVAC professional to determine the reason. It could be an undersized furnace or heat pump or it could be a ductwork or zoning issue.

3. Emergency Heat

If your main source of heat fails, space heaters can keep your home livable and prevent freezing pipes until the heat pump or furnace is repaired.

Pro tip: If power outages in freezing weather are common where you live, an electric heater won’t help, obviously, unless you have a gas generator to produce electricity to run it.

A better source of emergency heat in freezing whether is an indoor-safe portable propane heater. We recommend the highly rated Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Heater

It delivers immediate heat and a lot of it. The three heat settings are 4000 BTU, 9000 BTU and 18000 BTU. 

4. Choose a Space Heater with Efficiency Features

Many electric heaters are built for energy efficiency. Look for these features:

#1 Multiple Heat Settings

Most with two settings have a low/750W and a high/1500W option. A few are 900W/1500W or 1000W/1500W.

We reviewed two with 3 settings:

The Comfort Zone Oscillating Space Heater Tower has 800W/1000W/1500W settings.

The Optimus H-8013 Infrared Quartz Heater with Remote has 500W/1000W/1500W options.

Pro tip: Use the lowest heat setting that will keep the room comfortable. This might require turning on the heater an hour or two before using the room to give it time to warm up.

That might seem like a waste, but do the math.

  • 8 hours x 1500W = 12,000 watts
  • 10 hours x 750W = 7,500 watts

Using the 750W setting saves about 37% in this comparison.

Of course, another option, and a cheaper one too, would be to add another blanket to the bed or to dress more warmly.

#2 Eco (economy/ecological) Mode

This function chooses the right heat setting for you.

Let’s say you have a heater with 750W & 1500W settings.

You set the heater thermostat to 72F and turn on Eco mode.

The heater will heat with 1500W to get the room to 72F. Once there, it will switch to 750W to keep it there. If the temperature dips, it will switch back to 1500W, and so forth.

We reviewed several heaters with Eco mode. The best are:

Comfort Zone Oscillating Space Heater w/ ECO Mode

Pelonis Electric Portable Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater

#3 Timer

  • Do you or others in your household forget to turn off the space heater when you leave home?
  • Do you wake up with the bedroom too warm due to the heater?

Those situations waste energy and raise energy costs.

A timer is the solution.

Timers are available in 1-8, 1-10 and 1-12 hours depending on the model.

For example, the Honeywell Slim Ceramic Tower Heater has an 8-hour timer that can be set to 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours.

Another option is to buy a timer, plug it in and plug the heater into the timer. We recommend one like the Intermatic TN111K-2PK Premium Indoor Timers, 2-Pack.

The Kasa Smart WiFi Plug by TP-Link is another great option for smart homes. The product description says “Smart Plug, No Hub Required, Works with Alexa and Google (HS100).”

#4 Digital Thermostat

Some heaters have dial-type thermostats without actual temperature settings. Those kinds take trial and error to figure out where to set the dial to get the heat level you want.

A digital thermostat is more accurate, which keeps you comfortable without risk of making the room too warm.

Pro tip: Even digital thermostats can be a little tricky. Most turn off before the room temperature reaches the thermostat setpoint. This is because the thermostat is inside the unit rather than across the room on a wall.

In short, you might find that if you want it to be 72F in the room, you might need to set the thermostat to 74F or higher.

We recommend getting a room thermometer to know exactly what the air temperature is in the room. Then, you’ll be able to determine the right thermostat setting to get the air temp you want.

#5 WiFi Electric Heater

This is the ultimate way to control your space heater from anywhere. Forget to turn it off when leaving for work? Just use the app to do it.

Want to warm up a room before you arrive home? Turn on the heater remotely 30 minutes before you arrive!

The Heat Storm HS-1000-WX-WIFI WiFi Infrared Wall Heater is a good choice.  

#6 Person Sensor

A few electric space heaters have infrared sensors. They stay on when they detect a person in front of them, often within 6 feet. When the person leaves for more than two minutes, the heater shuts off. It turns back on when the person returns.

The Opolar Ceramic Heater, 600 Watt Personal Mini Heater with Smart Infrared Body Sensor is one option.

Match Heater Size to Room Size

Remember that electric heaters are designed to provide supplemental heat.

In general, you need about 10 watts per square foot to raise an insulated room’s temperature by 5-10 degrees.

  • 500 watts: Up to 50 square feet (5x10, 7x7) – Bathroom, cubicle, door room, desktop and similar. Check out Top Small Space Heaters in our website.
  • 750 watts: Up to 75 square feet (7.5x10, 8x9) – Bathroom, small office or small bedroom.
  • 1000 watts: Up to 100 square feet (10x10, 12x8) – Large bathroom, office, small bedroom, galley kitchen.
  • 1500 watts: Up to 150 square feet (10x15, 12x12) – Bedroom, office, kitchen, den. Want a Space Heater for Large Room? We've collected the best models for you in another article.

Pro tips: For raising the temperature by 11-15 degrees, you’ll need 15-20 watts per square foot. Electric space heaters really aren’t designed to provide more heat than that except in emergency heating situations.

On the other hand, using a heater or a heat setting that is too large for the room will waste heat.

Is One Type of Electric Heater More Efficient?

OK, this is where other sites confuse the issue to make it seem like one kind uses less energy than others. We clarify it instead.

A 750-watt electric heater uses 750 watts of power per hour regardless of whether it is a radiant/infrared, ceramic, oil-filled, bare metal coil or other type.

Ditto for 1500-watt heaters of all types. They use twice the energy of a 750W heater and cost twice as much to operate.

And we already noted that space heaters are 100% efficient at turning electricity into heat.

So the answer is “No.” Space heater efficiency does not vary by the type of heater it is.

Near the top of the page, we said, “The key question is which is the most efficient for your purposes.”

Let’s explore in more detail the idea that how you plan to use the electric heater – that is, how you can use it efficiently and still get the warming comfort you want.

Here are the three most popular electric space heater types with pros, cons and best uses.  

Radiant Heaters

Also called infrared heaters, they emit perfectly safe infrared rays that warm people and objects in their path. Immediately.

Pros: Turn on the heater, and feel the warmth as quickly as stepping out of the shade into sunlight on a brisk autumn day.

Many of these heaters are housed in attractive, furniture-quality cabinets. They are cool to the touch, because infrared doesn’t make the heating element and housing super-hot. This makes them kid-friendly and pet-friendly too.

Those without fans are very quiet.

Cons: Most radiant heaters have price tags that are above average for all electric heaters.

Where to Use: These heaters are best for heating people directly in front of the heater. They are ideal for locations where people are fairly stationary – the TV room, a bedroom or office where the unit can be aimed at people.

See our Infrared Heater Reviews and Guide and Top 8 Safest Space Heater Reviews to complete research.

Ceramic Heaters

These units create heat by the element getting hot and heating the air around it. That air is usually dispersed with a fan. Some don’t have fans. They heat a room as the heat moves further from the source. This is known as convection heating.

Pros: They heat up a small space pretty quickly. Most are light and portable, so are the best type for moving from room to room. The air in the room stays warm longer than when heating with infrared/radiant once the heater is turned off.

Cons: Some are cheap and fail quickly. Shop for a highly rated model like those in our Best Electric Heater list at the top of the page.

Where to Use: These are ideal for short-term use in a general area. For example, make a chilly bathroom or kitchen warm while using it before you leave for work. Or use it for an hour or two in the evening while watching TV or using the internet. In our Best Ceramic Heater Reviews, you can find more ceramic heater models.

Oil-filled

A radiator-style tank is filled with oil. An element inside the tank heats the oil, and the heat radiates out from the tank. The oil remains warm when the heater is turned off, and will continue to give off heat for 30-60 minutes depending on heater size and room temperature.

Pros: Heats after turned off. Quiet because they don’t have fans.

Cons: They heat up slowly, so won’t give you instant heat.

Where to use: These electric heaters are best for longer heating of an entire room – Bedrooms are most common, but they are used in living space and offices too. If you want to research more oil-filled heaters, you can click here.

A Heat Pump Is Not Electric Heat

Sometimes heat pumps are called electric heaters, and that causes confusion.

Ye, they are fueled by electricity.

But there is one major difference. The electricity is not used to create heat. Heat pumps don’t make heat. They capture heat in one place and pump it to another.

Refrigerant pumped by the compressor flows between an indoor coil and an outdoor coil. Coils are like radiators. In winter, the refrigerant captures heat outdoors and brings it inside. In summer, a valve is reversed, and the refrigerant captures heat indoors and pumps it outside to be released through the outdoor coil.

For whole-house heating, a heat pump is far more efficient than space heaters. Our Heat Pump Homepage & Buying Guide is a good place to begin researching these popular, money-saving HVAC systems.

Making your Home Energy Efficient

Energy efficiency is much bigger topic than the heat source you use.

This section discusses proven tips for reducing energy use and cost in any home. Some of the solutions are cheap and deliver immediate energy and cost savings. Others are more expensive, but they have a bigger impact. Their cost will be recouped over time.

Add Insulation to your Attic

This is widely understood to be the most cost-effective means to whole-house efficiency. It boosts efficiency whether heating with central heating or a space heater.

This map and table show how much insulation you should have in your home based on where you live.

Expect this upgrade to pay for itself through lower energy bills in 2-4 years depending on how much insulation you add and your climate. Adding fiberglass roll insulation or blown-in cellulose insulation is a DIY project, though a little messy. Doing it yourself shortens the payback time by about half.

Replace Old or Missing Caulk

When caulk is missing or damaged around window and door frames, it creates an air leak. Heated air escapes in winter. Hot air penetrates in summer. This is another cheap DIY repair that pays for itself almost immediately.

Add Weather-stripping to Drafty Doors and Windows

A short-term solution to old doors and windows is weather-stripping. Made of foam with a peel & stick back, it is easy to apply to doorframes and window frames. It is effective in closing off air gaps. Ditto for the cheap fix and short payback time.

Seal your Ductwork

It’s a huge waste of money and energy to heat or cool air only to have it leak out of the ducts before it gets to the rooms in your home. The Department of Energy states that up to 30% of treated (heated or cooled) air can be leaked from old or badly installed ducts.

This Duct Sealing Guide from the DOE/Energy Star is a good place to start researching and remedying this issue. It is full of useful links to specific information regarding sealing ducts.

Install Insulated Blinds and Curtains

A wide range and many colors are available, like these, that control light while conserving energy in your home.

Major Upgrades

When it is time for home renovation, you have energy efficient options for doors, windows, roof shingles and siding. When replacing siding, you can even add a layer of foam insulation to your home’s sheathing before installing the new siding. If you’re gutting the interior of your home, that’s a good time to add insulation to the wall cavity of exterior walls.

Energy Efficient HVAC Systems

This is another big-ticket item, but an efficient heat pump or furnace will make the largest difference in reducing your home’s energy use and cost. Our guide titled What is the Most Efficient Heating System might assist you in making a central HVAC buying decision that is best for your home. In the guide are links to guides on each specific heating type discussed. These include heat pumps, mini split heat pumps, gas furnaces and more.

Insert Custom HTML
Insert Video
Insert Video
Insert Video
Insert Video

Comments on this entry are closed.

DMCA.com Protection Status