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Home Heating Guide: Space Heaters vs. HVAC

As the temperatures drop, homeowners start thinking about keeping their homes warm and cozy. Around this time of year, our HVAC contractors are often asked, “Is a space heater better than HVAC heating?” If you find yourself asking the same question or want to learn ways to keep your home toasty without raising your energy bill, check out this guide.

What is a Space Heater? 

Space heaters are small, usually portable units that can help heat up smaller, enclosed spaces like a bedroom, office, etc. The Department of Energy points out that space heaters are often used to supplement home heating issues. Some of those issues could include:

  • A poorly functioning HVAC system
  • Lack of a main heating unit due to cost or repair
  • High-energy costs associated with the current heating unit

Electric space heaters function in two main ways: convection and radiant heat.

Electric space heaters function in two main ways: convection (aka air circulation) and radiant heat. 

  • Convection heaters are indirect heaters that heat and circulate the air, usually via a fan and internal heating elements. These units are ideal for indoor, enclosed spaces where an entire area needs to be heated.
  • Radiant heaters utilize infrared rays and deliver a more targeted heat. They are often used in outdoor spaces that need heating for specific objects or people. They might also be used inside if a specific area, as opposed to an entire room, needs heat.

Pros of Space Heating

Space heaters can be a great tool to keep your home warm during the colder months. If you need a little extra warmth in areas where your central heating might not reach, for example, a garage or an unfinished addition to your residence, space heaters can fill in the heating gaps. They are also useful if you are experiencing uneven heating in your home or need to give your HVAC system a break

When thinking about space heaters it is good to consider their strengths and limitations. They function best when used for small spaces that do not need extended or unattended heat. Safety can be a problem with space heaters when not used properly, and are estimated to be responsible for 21,800 household fires a year. To achieve the best home heating it is recommended to use space heaters in conjunction with a central heating system.

Central Heating vs. Space Heaters 

Central heating systems are the most common types of home heating. They consist of a heat pump, boiler, or furnace. Regardless of the type of central air your home has, the concept is the same. Central heating delivers warm air throughout the residence and is regulated with a thermostat.

In essence, space heaters are room heaters, and central air units are home heaters.

Size: Space heaters are single, movable units, and residential HVAC systems are larger structures with ducts, wires, and vents. Central air units are essentially fitted into a home, which means they can produce greater heat output, are able to be left on unattended, and allow for temperature adjustments based on your preferences. All of these factors make for a more stable and predictable indoor temperature. 

Cost: Space heaters, upfront, are affordable options for heating specific rooms in your home. Central air systems require professional installation and more intricate parts. As a result, they require more of an initial investment. However, when it comes to overall energy output and utility costs, central air could be a money-saver in the long run. HVAC systems regulate their energy output based on thermostat settings. They kick on when they need to heat a home or zones then turn off when the ideal indoor air climate is reached. This can make them highly energy-efficient while being effective heating systems. 

When it comes to overall energy output and utility costs, central air could be a money-saver in the long run.

On the other hand, space heaters use electricity or gas the entire time they are on, which can lead to higher utility costs if you try to heat your entire home with them. The Department of Energy estimates that the cost to heat an entire home with electric space heaters cost 43% more than a gas furnace. But, using them alongside your residential HVAC is a practical way to heat your space that won’t dramatically increase your electricity bill.

Home Heating Solutions with AAA Heating and Cooling

Are you looking for the best heating for your residence this winter? At AAA Heating and Cooling, we work with all our customers to develop the best heating plan and maintenance schedule. Whether you are looking for heating repair or replacement, we are here for all your needs. Schedule an appointment today and let us help you stay warm this winter!