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Portable Heaters: Space Savers

Make a Move: Portable Heating

Portable space heaters are less efficient at heating your whole home than central heating systems, but they can save energy when heating single rooms. Use them to bring heat just where you need it, or, if you live in an apartment with no central heating, they can help you avoid the high cost of installing a central system.

Space Heaters 101

Most space heaters run on electricity, propane, natural gas or kerosene. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, space heaters use about 10,000 to 40,000 British thermal units (Btu) per hour.1 Space heaters operate either by convection—circulating warm air throughout the room—or by radiating heat.

Convection Heaters

Convection heaters are powered by either electricity or gas. Electrical models use ceramic or nichrome heating elements. Gas heaters produce heat by burning fuel, which can pose a carbon monoxide danger if the room is not properly ventilated. Convection heat is not as intense, and can be used to provide diffuse heat for longer periods of time. Most space heaters use convection heating.2

Radiative Heaters

Radiative heaters work by directly heating surfaces and people through infrared radiation. These models are better suited for small, less-insulated spaces needing heat for only a few hours.3 Radiative heaters will heat a small area quicker, while not wasting energy on heating the rest of the room. For the most heat, stay directly in front of the heating element and its metal reflector.

Use & Care

Proper maintenance and care of portable heaters will maximize efficiency and ensure your safety. Learn more about Portable Heater Use & Care, and how to keep warm, safe, and see the most savings. Return to Heating and Cooling.

[1& 2]U.S. Department of Energy. (2012). Energy Saver: Portable Heaters. Retrieved September 28, 2012, from http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/portable-heaters
[3] Ibid.

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.