Should You Run a Space Heater or Use Central Heat?

During the winter months, keeping your house warm and cozy can be challenging.

While central heating systems are a popular choice for homeowners, the use of space heaters has been on the rise due to their energy efficiency and ability to provide targeted warmth.

However, the decision between using a space heater or central heat depends on various factors such as energy consumption, cost, and your heating needs. This article will help you understand when and why to use each heating method.

When Should You Use a Space Heater over Central Heat?

Space heaters, including electric space heaters, radiant heaters, and convection heaters, are excellent for providing extra heat in small areas or rooms that are not adequately warmed by the central heating system.

They are also useful if you want to lower the central thermostat and heat only a specific room where you spend a lot of time, thereby helping you to save energy and reduce energy bills.

When Should You Use Central Heat over a Space Heater?

Central heat is an ideal option for larger homes or when you need to heat the entire house consistently.

It is especially helpful in colder climates where maintaining a stable temperature in all rooms is necessary for comfort and health reasons.

Moreover, central heating systems like a gas furnace or heat pump are more efficient than space heaters when heating a larger area over an extended period.

Benefits of a Space Heater over Central Heat

  1. Energy Efficiency: Space heaters can be more energy-efficient when used for heating a small room or space, helping to reduce energy consumption and costs.
  2. Targeted Heating: They allow for targeted heating, meaning you can heat the specific area or room you are using without wasting energy on unoccupied spaces.
  3. Portability: Space heaters are portable, providing flexibility to move them wherever extra heat is needed.
  4. Cost-Effective: They are less expensive to purchase than central heating systems.

Benefits of Central Heat over a Space Heater

  1. Consistent Heating: Central heat provides a consistent temperature throughout the entire house, which is ideal during colder months.
  2. Convenience: Once installed and set, you don’t have to move or adjust it regularly.
  3. Safer: While modern space heaters come with safety features, central heating systems are typically safer as they pose less risk of fire if used correctly.

Downsides of a Space Heater over Central Heat

  1. Limited Area: Space heaters are designed to heat a limited area, and using them to heat a large area or multiple rooms can be inefficient.
  2. Safety Concerns: If not used correctly, space heaters can pose a fire hazard.

Downsides of Central Heat over a Space Heater

  1. Higher Installation and Maintenance Costs: Central heating systems can be expensive to install and maintain.
  2. Higher Energy Bills: If not used judiciously, central heating can lead to higher energy bills.

What is More Expensive to Run, a Space Heater or Central Heat?

While central heating systems can be more cost-effective to run when heating the whole house, space heaters can be more economical when used to heat a small room or area for a short period.

However, these costs can vary based on the type of central heating or space heater, fuel prices, and the energy efficiency of the units.

Do Space Heaters Use More Electricity Than Central?

Generally, a single space heater can use less electricity than a central heating system. However, if multiple space heaters are used simultaneously to heat a large area, they could potentially consume more electricity.


Whether to use a space heater or central heat depends on various factors such as the size of your space, your heating needs, and how energy-efficient your heating devices are.

While central heating is an excellent option for larger homes and colder climates, space heaters can be an economical and efficient solution for targeted heating in smaller spaces.

Always remember to use any heating option safely and wisely to enjoy a warm and comfortable winter.

It’s also recommended to invest in energy-saving methods, such as draft excluders and insulation, to maximize heating efficiency and minimize energy costs.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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