Some homeowners consider supplementing electric heaters, thinking that keeping the thermostat at low level while using an infrared, quartz or ceramic heater in some of the rooms will result to savings. Let’s examine if these measures are effective and if so, to what an extent.
It’s quite usual for homeowners using natural gas or oil for heating their homes to look for alternate means of heating to bring down their utility bills, as energy cost seems to be going up all the time.
How They Work
Any electric heater changes electrical energy to heat. Ceramic and quartz heaters work on the principle of transferring heat through convection, meaning they heat the air and circulate heated air in the room. Infrared heaters make use of electromagnetic waves to transfer heat. These waves remain invisible, but heat the objects coming their way.
Infrared space heaters for domestic applications emit infrared waves of long wavelength, which travel through air without heating it. Any object that absorbs these rays gets warmed up, whether it’s a human being or a piece of furniture.
Infrared rays target only the objects needing heat. Such heaters are therefore more efficient. They have no moving components, produce no odor, offer silent operation, are not affected by drafts and have quick response time for heating.
Quartz And Ceramic Heaters
Convection heaters using electricity heat a metallic coil, a quartz tube, or a ceramic core to heat the air in the surrounding area and distribute it all over the room, and may employ a fan for the purpose. Compared to metallic coils, quartz and ceramic elements are known to attain higher temperatures using less energy and are therefore considered more efficient.
They efficiently keep small closed spaces warm. They all circulate warm air in the room and are provided with a thermostat that switches them off when the required temperature is attained. It’s good to have a quartz or ceramic convection heater in a room with many people.
Are They Safe?
As long as you care to follow the instructions of the manufacturer, space heaters, whether infrared or convection, offer a safe operation. They come with built-in safety features like tripping off the current when overheated. Yet, you should never leave them on if you are going to be away from home, don’t ever connect them to an extension cord.
It’s much safer to use them in rooms having smoke detectors. Make sure to buy a heater that has been approved by an independent testing agency like Underwriters Laboratories.
What About Those High-Efficiency Claims?
There are manufacturers claiming that using their heaters cuts down the expense by fifty percent! Don’t get carried away by such ads making such tall claims. Of course, you save money using space heaters, only thing is that some are more efficient than the others, but none can defy the basic principle of sciences.
Real savings with an electric space heater are possible only when the central heating system is turned down by many degrees and a space heater is used for keeping warm a very small area.
Depending on the features and design, the price of portable space heaters varies over a large range. Efficient heaters with better designs and more features are costlier.
But, one thing should be well understood that irrespective of the cost, any heater using 1500 watts will provide the same amount of heat and you will bear the same cost per hour of its operation. That’s logical?
How To Calculate Your Energy Cost
Using this formula you can estimate the energy consumption of a space heater.
Wattage of Heater X Hours of Use Per Day ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-Hour (kWh) Consumption
Check your electric bill to know the cost per kilowatt-hour in your area. Often the rates vary for peak and non-peak hours. Also bear in mind that heaters with thermostats may turn off during part of the time.
For example: Your infrared, quartz or ceramic space heater has two settings: 750 watts and 1500 watts. You choose the higher setting and use it for five hours in the afternoon:
1500 watts x 5 hours per day usage ÷ 1000 = 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity used. If the rate is eight cents per kilowatt-hour, the amount will be 7.5 x .08 = .60 (60 cents for 5 hours, or 12 cents per hour). Hint: Natural gas is far less expensive.
Of course you save on winter heating bills, but expect realistic results by using an infrared, quartz, or ceramic heater.