Best Energy Efficient Space Heaters And The Best Types To Choose From

Jim Morris
Updated on
Jim Morris

Jim Morris

Jim Morris loves to travel and visit a lot of architecture sites worldwide. He shares lots of information and is always looking forward to the next article on interior design, architecture and landscaping.
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Heating costs can get pretty high, especially in cold seasons. For this reason, I looked into the best energy-efficient space heaters to supplement my central heating system whenever it is down or when I need localized heat without paying exorbitant rates for it. I tried out different types of heaters alongside other methods of naturally warming the house.

In this article, we will dive deep into my top 6 efficient space heater picks, the available types, things I considered when buying the heaters, and some safety tips I employ each time I use space heaters. Furthermore, I will answer some frequently asked questions about space heaters.

My first pick is the Dreo radiator heater because of its safety and technological features. The heater has a timer, digital thermostat, tip over protection feature and more. My next pick is the Econohome heater because I can set it up safely on the wall and leave it there permanently without worrying about my pet and kids getting hurt. My third pick is the Givebest heater. Not only is it one of the most popular heaters, it has a compact body and I can bring it anywhere with me.

So, what is an energy-efficient space heater?

What is an Energy Efficient Space Heater?

A space heater is a device meant for heating small or medium-sized spaces. The spaces, in this case, are often closed spaces like rooms. A space heater uses less energy compared to a central heating system. A space heater can be used alone or as a complimentary heat to the central heating systems.

Image Source: nytimes.com

An efficient electric space heater is a space heater that uses the latest technology to provide heat while using the least possible amount of energy. There are different types of space heaters, and they all have some advantages and disadvantages.

In my list below, you will find my best picks for each type I tried, and reasons why you should or should not buy them.

Best Energy Efficient Space Heaters

1) Dreo Radiator Heater-Best Oil Filled Heater

Dreo Radiator Heater, Upgrade 1500W Electric Portable...
  • Up to 300 sq.ft. Heating for Whole Room: 1500W high power,...
  • Feel Heat Faster: The spindle-shaped openings, 225 mm larger...
  • Cool Touch Design: With the wraparound heating fins design, the...
  • Enhanced Safety: Dreo Oil Filled Radiator Heater made of V0 flame...
  • Energy Efficient: Equipped with 600W/900W/1500W heating modes,...

The Dreo radiator heater was an easy pick for me because it is safe and portable. The heater has to overheat and tip over protection, which most other space heaters do not. With a 24-hour timer, a digital thermostat, and quiet operation, the heater is a convenient pick for my house.

I enjoy using the heater without altering my comfort, as I can use a remote control to change the settings.

(web)Image Source: dreo.com

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Enhanced safety
  • Remote-controlled
  • Cool-to-touch design
  • Automated timer

Cons:

  • The heater relies entirely on electricity

2) EconoHome Wall Mount Space Heater-Best Convection Panel Heater

EconoHome Wall Mount Space Heater Panel - with...
  • SAVE UP TO 50% OF YOUR HOME HEATING COSTS: Lower your energy...
  • CONVECTOR HEATER SPECS: Ideal for a 120 sq. ft. room, 400 watts,...
  • SAFE AND EFFICIENT TECHNOLOGY: This electric wall heater operates...
  • UPDATED CRACK RESISTANT VERSION: This upgraded durable model is...
  • NO FAN THAT DRIES OUT: Asthma and dust allergy sufferers can...

Image Source: wholesalehome.com

I picked the Econohome for its safety, as I can mount it away from kids and pets. The space heater is affordable and is my go-to choice when looking for an additional heat source. The heater has no fan, making it great for anyone affected by dust, as the heater will not launch particles into the air.

Pros:

  • Sturdy design
  • Safe for use where they are kids and pets
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • The heater works best as a complimentary heat source, not the primary one.

3) GiveBest Space Heater-Best Fan/Ceramic Heater

Sale
Portable Electric Space Heater with Thermostat,...
  • 2 in 1 heater fan: This ceramic heater provides two heat levels,...
  • Multi protection safety system: These heaters are made of flame...
  • Compact and powerful: 7.9 inch x 6.2 inch x 10.2 inch, 2.9 pounds...
  • Quiet and fast heating: The noise this ceramic heater makes is...
  • Upgrade abs material: Upgrade abs material applied, which is more...

GiveBest is able to heat up 200-square-foot floor space and is one of the most popular space heaters today. The heater is portable and has a tip-over protection feature and overheat protection. Furthermore, the heater's compact size means I can achieve the three-feet rule quite easily.

Image Source: realsimple.com

GiveBest is affordable and easy to use. The heater is a quiet pick, which is one of my preferred choices in a heater.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Portable
  • Safe
  • Energy efficient electric space heater
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • The heater is not remote-controlled.

4) Dr. Infrared Heater-Best Infrared Space Heater

Sale
Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 1500-Watt
  • Can heat up a large room with Auto Energy Saving Model With High...
  • Dual Heating Systems featuring infrared quartz tube + PTC with...
  • IR Remote Control, High Pressure Low Noise Blower with Noise...
  • Electronic Thermostat: range 50 to 85 degrees. Caster Wheels and...
  • Weights 24 lbs and uses 12.5 Amps of Power. 1500 Watts. Electric...

Dr. Infrared is the best cure for any cold space in my house as it efficiently transmits heat without wasting it in the air. The heater radiates heat directly onto objects and does not take time to heat up the air first.

Image Source: thespruce.com

I picked Dr. Infrared because its features make it one of the most efficient radiant heaters. The heater has a dual-heating system and an auto-shut timer. Additionally, the heater has overheating protection, which makes it a safe choice. With a remote control option and wheels, Dr. Infrared is built for convenience.

Pros:

  • Quiet
  • Safety features included
  • Remote-controlled
  • Dual heating system

Cons:

  • Costly

5) Mr. Heater-Best Propane Space Heaters

Sale
Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 1500-Watt
  • Can heat up a large room with Auto Energy Saving Model With High...
  • Dual Heating Systems featuring infrared quartz tube + PTC with...
  • IR Remote Control, High Pressure Low Noise Blower with Noise...
  • Electronic Thermostat: range 50 to 85 degrees. Caster Wheels and...
  • Weights 24 lbs and uses 12.5 Amps of Power. 1500 Watts. Electric...

Mr. Heater's Little Buddy is an indoor-safe propane heater that makes cool air warmer for comfort. The heater is small and great for situations like camping or RVing. The heater is simple to use and straightforward.

(Web)Image Source: campingworld.com

I preferred Little Buddy over other heaters because its low oxygen sensor and accidental tip-over switch make it a safe option.

Pros:

  • The heater does not rely on electricity
  • Small and portable
  • Fitted with safety features like a low-oxygen sensor
  • Cheap

Cons:

  • Not effective for use in larger rooms
  • Not safe for use in moving vehicles

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Energy-Efficient Space Heater

Image Source: thecoolist.com

a) ECO Mode

With eco mode on, a heater can automatically adjust its heat output to match the temperature in the room. If the room is heated to an optimal temperature, the heater would automatically produce less heat to maintain a favorable temperature.

Eco-mode is one of the efficient temperature settings I look for on every modern space heater.

b) Wall Mounted vs. Freestanding Space Heater

A wall-mounted space heater requires a permanent installation to the wall and is commonly used to heat individual rooms. On the other hand, freestanding space heaters can be moved around, and some have wheels on them.

The advantage of wall-mounted space heaters is how safe they are compared to moving a heater around. Wall-mounted heaters are more affordable too. Wall-mounted space heaters can be limiting because it is difficult to move them around temporarily once installed. Installation of wall-mounted space heaters further requires some work which may need accessories like tools which lead to extra costs.

Freestanding space heaters are more portable compared to wall-mounted space heaters. The one downside with these heaters is the constant supervision because they are not as safe to move around, especially when there are kids and pets in the house.

c) Coverage Area

I chose my space heaters based on the sizes of the rooms I had in mind when buying the heaters. The best space heaters for large rooms would be overwhelming for relatively smaller rooms.

When looking at coverage, I considered how the different types of heaters work and how much floor space they can cover. For instance, infrared space heaters work by directly heating the items directly in line with the heat projected. On the other hand, other heaters work by heating up the whole room instead of directly targeting heat at objects.

d) Portability

Portable heaters are a huge advantage as I can bring them from one room to another. Furthermore, I do not have to hassle a lot when traveling with such heaters. A portable heater is the best for supplemental heating compared to one that is problematic to handle.

Instances when portability comes in handy include when the heating element is still too hot, and I want to move the heater to a different spot. Instead of waiting till it cools, I can push it if it has wheels.

Please note: It is hazardous to handle heaters while they are still hot.

e) Noise Levels

Depending on the heating method, some space heaters can be noisy. For instance, heaters that have to push heat using fans can get a bit noisy at times. If the heater is loud, it is not convenient to have it in a bedroom or somewhere where noise is distracting.

f) Heating Capacity

When looking for a space heater, I look for one that will give me an average of 10 watts of heating power for every square footage in my house. Therefore, if I have a room with a 100 square-foot floor area, then the heater I am looking at should not be less than 1000 watts.

If the heating capacity of a space heater is inefficient in a room, you can count it as a loss as cold air will overpower the hot air in the room.

g) Size

Depending on the heating mechanism, some space heaters are smaller while others are large. Rarely do we have empty spaces on the floor just waiting for a heater. In most cases, we have to create room for devices such as heaters. If the heater is too large, it might need a larger space.

Space makes a heater either more or less portable. Popular space heaters are sizeable and not too bulky to move around.

There are mini-space heater options available, but they might produce relatively fewer amounts of heat.

h) Heating mechanism

The heating mechanism of a space heater is one of the most fundamental things I look for in a heater. I have heaters in my storage that are on standby in case of a power outage during winter. Such heaters use propane or kerosene to heat the house. There are heaters that use electricity, and those, too, use different heating mechanisms.

Different types of heaters have different methods they use to produce heat. For instance, some heaters use infrared radiation to produce heat, while others use convection methods. I look into these heating mode specifications when buying heaters.

i) Remote Control

Reliable space heaters are automated or use the remote control to keep the user as comfortable as possible. Most space heaters are manually controlled, but they have options with auto-shut-down settings.

j) Cost

One of my primary reasons for getting a space heater is to cut down on house heating costs. Therefore, how much a heater cost has to make sense when I compare it against how much I use to run the central heating system.

k) Safety

Safety features are the first things I look at when choosing a heater. This is because heaters emit heat which can cause harm or injury. Since I have kids and pets running around in the house, I have to be extra careful with heaters such as propane and oil-filled radiator.

Types Of Electric Space Heaters

i) Fan Space Heaters

Efficiency 6/10

Image Source: discover.hubpages.com

Fan space heaters work by heating a coil and using fans to push out the air into the room. Fan space heaters are popular as they do not take up much space and have a small and compact size.

Furthermore, the space heaters give constant heat. When heating, the body cover of such heaters are cold to the touch, making fan heaters the safest to have in spaces with kids and pets. Space heaters are often affordable and easy to obtain.

The downside of space heaters includes the relatively smaller spaces that the heater can heat. Physical objects can obstruct the heat produced by the heaters, and the heating stops once the power is turned off. Fan heaters often rely on electricity and are not very useful in situations involving a blackout unless you have a reliable backup generator.

Most fan heaters have a physical turn dial on the adjustable thermostat that has to be manually operated.

ii) Ceramic Heaters

Efficiency (With Fans) 7/10

Efficiency (Without Fans) 6/10

Image Source: gearpatrol.com

Ceramic heaters have ceramic plates that are attached to metal coils that get heated using electricity. Once the coils are heated, the ceramic plates absorb the heat, which is then released into the air, heating up the room as a result.

Ceramic heaters heat up really fast, and the results are almost instant.

There are ceramic heaters fitted with fans to double up as fan heaters and others that do not have fans. Ceramic heaters with fans transfer heat faster than those without. A ceramic heating element takes longer to cool compared to metal, making the heaters retain some heat even after shutdown.

Ceramic heaters have similar setbacks to fan heaters and require a constant supply of electricity to function.

iii) Infrared Space Heaters

Efficiency 7/10

Image Source: techgearlab.com

Infrared heaters work by emitting electromagnetic waves to heat up the items in the path of the waves. We can compare the heaters to the sun as they function in an almost similar manner. Instead of warming up the air, the heaters directly warm objects that the waves come in contact with.

On a hot day, an umbrella or a shade would come in handy to shield you against the heat. Similarly, objects can prevent infrared heaters from making you warm. This is not entirely a disadvantage, as the same objects may end up radiating heat to the surrounding once heated.

Infrared space heaters can have fans to help speed up the process of heating up a room.

An infrared portable space heater is easy to move around because it can be a bit heavy. Such heaters have wheels on them.

The advantage I enjoy most when using an infrared heater is the fact that it emits heat even after it is turned off. Furthermore, the heaters can have automated thermostats on them to regulate the room temperature without constant supervision. An infrared heater is likely to have a cool-to-the-touch body even when heated.

There are some downsides to infrared heaters. The heaters are a bit costlier than other types of heaters. Furthermore, the heaters rely on an object in a room to absorb the heat and radiate it to the air or occupants in the room.

Infrared heaters are unidirectional and have to be directed toward the target objects.

iv) Propane Space Heaters

Efficiency 8/10

(Web)Image Source: Homedepot.com

Propane space heaters are my preferred heaters for emergencies or traveling. The heaters do not rely on electricity as others do, which is one of their main advantages. Propane heaters use fuel and are my most portable option since they do not use power cords which can be limiting in a lot of situations. 

Propane space heaters are cheap to run and produce the highest amounts of heat compared to other heaters. The heaters can work by producing radiant heat, similar to the infrared heater, directly heating the objects around it. Propane heaters are great for use in outdoor spaces such as patios.

Propane heaters need well-ventilated spaces for use, preferably outdoor spaces. The heaters rely on liquid propane, which I have to source each time. The risk with using liquid propane is that it is flammable.

v) Oil-Filled Space Heaters

Efficiency 5/10

Image Source: timesofindia.com

Also known as oil-filled radiators, the heaters work by heating up the oil inside the heater, which circulates and heats up the fins, which then transfer the heat to the surrounding room.

I like using these heaters since they can stay hot even after I have turned off the power.

The downside with oil-filled heaters is that the body gets hot, which is unsafe to touch. Furthermore, the heaters are quite heavy and do not work well in large rooms.

vi) Panel Space Heaters

Efficiency 4/10

Image Source: electronicshub.org

Panel space heaters use a similar mechanism to that oil-filled heaters. The main difference is that panel heaters use electric currents instead of oil. Most of these heaters are safe as they are wall mounted and can be stationed out of reach. However, I do not use the heaters for exclusive heating as they do not give off so much heat. I only use the panel space heaters as complimentary heating while using other heating sources.

When to Use Energy-Efficient Space Heaters

  • When the main heating system is broken or unavailable.
  • When the main heating system is inadequate.
  • When the central heating system is too costly to run, energy-efficient heaters come in handy to save on costs.
  • I can use portable space heaters when I need heat localized in a certain spot in the house.
  • Whenever I am in a space with no central heating system installed, like a barn, I can use a space heater.

Tips for Using an Energy-Efficient Space Heater

  • Remove any obstacles between you and the heaters.
  • Compliment the heaters using other methods of keeping the room warm. e.g., using heavy curtains.
  • Buy heaters with multiple heat settings to save on your electricity cost and increase efficiency.
  • Automated heaters are more efficient and should be your first pick, as they give off only the required amount of heat.

Space Heater Safety Tips

Even with the best space heater, you still need to take extra caution. Here are some suggestions to follow;

  • Use tip-over protection for when the power surges
  • Keep the heaters at least three feet away, clear of anything flammable
  • Supervise kids and pets when the heater is on
  • Attend to any signs of malfunction on heaters
  • Do not sleep with the heater on if it does not have automated shutdown features
  • Use propane heaters in well-ventilated rooms or outdoors
  • Have working smoke detectors in the house

Frequently Asked Questions About Space Heaters

1) What Technologies Make Space Heaters More Energy Efficient?

Modern heaters have automated thermostats that regulate the amount of heat released into the room. This makes such heaters both cost and energy efficient. Heaters that are wall-mountable are often clear of most obstructions, making them more efficient compared to ground-level heaters.

Modern heaters have an auto-shutdown feature that saves power and fuel after a period of use. More energy-saving features and heating modes are invented as heating technology keeps advancing.

2) How can I tell if a space heater is energy efficient?

The first and obvious way to tell if a heater is working is to turn it on and feel how long it takes to warm up the room. There are more scientific ways of telling if your heater is converting heat efficiently by using formulae such as the AFUE, which is a percentage showing how efficiently the heater is converting fuel into energy. Be on the lookout for a higher AFUE.

Before buying a heater online, you can look at the reviews to see what others have experienced when using the heater.

3) What type of space heater uses the least electricity?

Infrared heaters use little power to run. However, the type of heater does not form the basis of gauging which heater is the best today. How the heater functions are what matters. For instance, you can have a heater that uses relatively low electricity but does so constantly and cumulatively, using up a lot of power. Alternatively, you can use a heater that has a higher power rating but regulates how much heat it produces depending on the current needs. This heater may end up using less electricity.

The best thing to do is to look at the wattage alongside other specifications and technologies to make the heater more efficient.

Final Thoughts on Energy-Efficient Space Heaters

With a lot of options in the market today, finding the most energy-efficient space heaters is a bit tough as it is not as simple as the heating mechanism the heater uses. However, you can find the right heater for your space by looking at your needs and comparing them to the specifications of the heater you are looking at.

The specs to compare include energy efficiency, two-heat settings or more, fan-only option or not, energy consumption, included remote control, and more.

Jim Morris

About the author

Jim Morris

Jim Morris loves to travel and visit a lot of architecture sites worldwide. He shares lots of information and is always looking forward to the next article on interior design, architecture and landscaping.
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