Space Heater vs Central Heat: Which One Saves You More Money?

With half your energy bills going to heating and cooling your home, it’s definitely worth considering the pros and cons of heating options. We’ll take you through what costs to consider, and our recommendations for the best space heaters.

Costs of space heater vs. central heat

Central heating by design is cheaper per BTU (British thermal unit), though it’s a much more complex question than that. It’s really about your habits and a combination of both kinds of heating that will be the most cost efficient over time. Keep reading to see what we mean. 

Energy efficiency of space heater vs. central heat

Newer space heaters are energy efficient, but you should keep them in enclosed rooms rather than in an open floor plan. Do you need to heat the entire house or just a room or two? Especially if you have a large house, it makes sense to heat only a couple of rooms when the household is gathered together. Use space heaters in those areas instead of trying to keep the heat up in the whole place. At times when people are scattered throughout the house, use central heat. For multiple rooms at a time, central heating is by far more energy and cost efficient.

When should I use a space heater vs. central heat? 

Use a space heater when you’re using one to rooms of the house at a time, and use central heat for warming the whole house. For longer periods, use an oil filled space heater, and for quicker, stronger heat, use ceramic space heaters.

Our picks for the best space heaters

Comfort Glow 5200BTU Quartz Wall Heater

For large rooms (about 600 sq. ft.), this is a practical, stationary, wall-mounted space heater. It’s quiet enough for cozy evenings with the family.

Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968 1500-watt Portable Space Heater

My favorite feature of this easily portable, highly-rated space heater is the timer shut off function.

DeLonghi 1500-Watt Ceramic Tower Electric Space Heater

The auto-shut off if there’s any malfunction is important for my peace of mind, especially if I’m using a space heater at night or in a kid’s room.


Electric Freestanding Indoor Fireplace by Northwest

If you’re missing the truly homey feeling of a pile of embers, this is your comforting, portable fireplace.

Costway 700 W Portable Mini Electric Oil Filled Radiator Heater

A very compact portable heater for small spaces, and for the price, you can afford two.

Dyson AM09 Hot & Cool Bladeless Fan & Heater with Jet Focus

Don’t worry about needing to store your heater for the winter because this Dyson space heater turns into a cooling fan in the summer. I also appreciate how easy these are to clean.

Vornado VH200 Whole Room Electric Space Heater

This one gets high ratings for its cost and efficiency, it’s a simple device that heats a small room with ease.

Beyond cost and energy efficiency, there are likely a few spots in the house that the central heating doesn’t reach well— especially the garage. Why suffer a chilly day when you’re finishing up some necessary chores? A space heater is your answer.

Mariko is a high school English teacher who has three children, illegible handwriting and an obsession with mail-order artisan ice cream. She lives in Hawaii, but she makes a point to eat her way through big cities as often as she can.

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