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Does A Space Heater Use A Lot Of Electricity? How Many Watts It Use?

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During the cold winter months, space heaters are an essential source of targeted warmth and comfort in the home. But space heaters can also use a significant amount of electricity to generate all that heat. This article looks at how much electricity space heaters use, factors that affect electricity usage, and the costs involved in running a space heater.

Does A Space Heater Use A Lot Of Electricity

The purpose is to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of space heater electricity usage. Key questions answered include:

  • How many watts do space heaters use?
  • How much electricity does a space heater consume per hour/day/month?
  • How do different wattages impact electricity usage?
  • What is the typical cost to run a space heater?
  • Do space heaters use a lot of electricity compared to alternatives?

By understanding the electricity usage and costs of their space heater, readers can make informed decisions about efficient and cost-effective operation. The goal is to answer the question of space heater electricity use thoroughly, with relevant statistics and comparisons.

Typical Wattage of Space Heaters

Space heaters are available in a wide range of wattages, generally ranging from 500 watts on the low end to 1500 watts on the high end. The most common residential space heaters tend to be in the middle of this range, from 800 to 1500 watts. More heavy-duty space heaters may go up to 2500 watts.

The wattage indicates the amount of power the space heater draws. Higher wattage heaters will generate more heat, but will also use more electricity in the process. Lower wattage models may not put out enough heat for very large rooms, but will be more energy efficient overall.

In general, a good rule of thumb is to size your space heater appropriately to the room you want to heat. Smaller rooms and spaces will only require a lower 500-1000 watt heater. Larger rooms may need a more powerful 1500 watt heater to reach a comfortable temperature. Matching the heater wattage to the size of the space is important for efficiency.

Electricity Used Per Hour

Space heaters require a significant amount of electricity to generate heat. A typical full-sized space heater is rated at around 1500 watts. With some simple math we can determine how much electricity a 1500 watt space heater uses per hour of operation.

Electricity usage is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A kilowatt-hour equals 1,000 watts used for 1 hour.

So a 1,500 watt space heater used for 1 hour would consume 1.5 kWh of electricity (1,500 watts divided by 1,000 to get kilowatts).

This means a standard 1,500 watt space heater will use approximately 1.5 kWh of electricity if run continuously for 1 hour.

The amount of electricity consumed can add up quickly if a space heater is used for extended periods of time. Care should be taken to use space heaters only when needed and to minimize runtimes.

Daily Electricity Usage

A typical 1500W space heater running for 10 hours per day can use around 12-14 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity. This is calculated by multiplying the wattage of the heater (1500 watts) by the number of hours used per day (10 hours).

So a 1500W heater used for 10 hours would be:

1500W x 10 hours = 15,000 Wh (watt hours)

15,000 Wh / 1000 = 15 kWh

Some quick math for a 1500 watt space heater:

  • Used for 8 hours = 12 kWh
  • Used for 12 hours = 18 kWh

The more hours at higher settings, the more electricity used. Most models have a range of 500-1500 watts, with higher settings using more electricity. Monitoring hours used is important to control costs. But in general, at max settings, a space heater can use 12-14 kWh per day.

Monthly Electricity Usage

When running a standard 1500 watt space heater for 12 hours per day, it can use around 360-420 kWh (kilowatt hours) in one month. This is based on the heater drawing 1.5-1.8 kWh per hour as mentioned previously. If we take the average of 1.65 kWh per hour for 12 hours per day, over 30 days in a month, that comes out to around 390 kWh used.

So in a typical month of frequent space heater usage, you can expect it to add roughly 390 kWh to your electricity consumption. For some homes, this can represent a 15-20% increase in their monthly power bill during the cold winter months. Always monitor your space heater usage and adjust the thermostat accordingly to avoid excessive electricity costs.

Yearly Electricity Usage

Space heaters can use a significant amount of electricity over the course of a year. On average, a standard 1500-watt space heater running daily over a year can use around 4,200 kWh annually.

To break this down further:

  • A 1500-watt space heater uses 1.5 kWh per hour when running.
  • If used on average 8 hours per day, that's 12 kWh per day.
  • With typical winter weather, assume it's used for about 250 days out of the year.
  • 12 kWh per day x 250 days = 3000 kWh per winter.
  • Plus some additional usage on cooler spring and fall days, estimate around 1200 kWh.
  • So in total, around 4200 kWh per year for a standard space heater.

This shows that space heaters can add a significant amount to yearly electricity usage and costs. Proper use and sizing for the space being heated is important to keep electricity demand in check. But used wisely, space heaters can be an effective way to provide warmth during colder months.

Electricity Usage by Wattage

Space heaters come in a range of wattages, typically from 500W on the low end up to 1500W for larger, more powerful models. The wattage determines how much electricity the space heater will use.

  • A small 500W space heater running for 1 hour will use 0.5 kWh of electricity (500 watts x 1 hour / 1000 = 0.5 kWh). If used for 8 hours a day, it would use 4 kWh per day.

  • A medium 1000W space heater running for 1 hour will use 1 kWh of electricity. Running for 8 hours a day it would use 8 kWh.

  • A larger 1500W space heater used for 1 hour will consume 1.5 kWh. Running it 8 hours a day would total 12 kWh of electricity usage.

The higher the wattage rating of the space heater, the more electricity it will consume when in use. Lower wattage heaters use less power but may not heat as quickly or as much area as larger models. Consider the room size and heating needs when selecting a space heater wattage.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a Space Heater?

The cost to run a space heater depends on the wattage of the heater, as well as the cost of electricity in your area.

On average, electricity rates in the United States are around $0.12 per kWh. So for a 1500W space heater, which uses 1.5kWh, the electricity cost would be around $0.18 per hour of use.

If using a 1500W space heater for 8 hours per day, that's around 12kWh of electricity used per day. At $0.12 per kWh, that's $1.44 per day to run the space heater.

For a month of 30 days, a 1500W space heater running 8 hours per day would cost around $43.20 per month.

Over the period of a year, a 1500W space heater running 8 hours per day would cost approximately $518.40 to operate annually.

The costs scale linearly with the wattage - a smaller 1000W heater at the same usage would be around $345.60 per year, while a larger 1800W model would cost around $622.08 per year to run.

Monitoring usage and setting an appropriate thermostat temperature can help minimize costs when using a space heater. Proper maintenance and operating the heater efficiently are other ways to control electricity costs.

Do Space Heaters Use a Lot of Electricity?

Yes, compared to other common household appliances, space heaters do use a significant amount of electricity. For example:

  • A 1500W space heater uses 1.5kWh per hour.
  • A refrigerator may use between 100-300Wh.
  • A laptop charger uses about 60Wh.
  • An LED light bulb only uses 10-15Wh.

So a 1500W space heater operating for 1 hour uses over 10 times the electricity of a refrigerator for that hour. And 100 times the electricity of a single LED bulb.

Space heaters use similar electricity as other major appliances like ovens, clothes dryers, and dishwashers. But unlike those appliances which are used for short periods, space heaters often run for many hours throughout the day.

The high wattage required to power the heating elements and blowers in a space heater result in high electricity consumption. This is especially true for larger capacity and higher powered space heaters.

Do Space Heaters Use a Lot of Electricity?

So compared to most other common household items, space heaters do consume a disproportionately large amount of electricity. This makes them one of the major contributors to electricity bills in homes that use them regularly. Being aware of their high electrical load is important for budgeting and efficiency.

Efficiency Tips

When using a space heater, there are some tips to maximize efficiency and reduce electricity usage:

Proper Sizing - Make sure to choose a heater that is appropriately sized for the room you want to heat. Oversized heaters will cycle on and off more, using extra electricity. Check the square footage rating and opt for a smaller heater for a small room.

Adjust the Settings - Use the thermostat and adjust the heat settings to only as high as needed. The higher the temperature, the more energy required. Set to a moderate temperature to save energy. Also use timers or shut off automatically when not needed.

Keep Nearby Areas Clear - Make sure there are no furniture or objects directly in front of the heater that could block airflow. Keeping the area around the heater clear will allow for proper air circulation and less cycling on and off.

Regular Maintenance - Clean the filters, vents and internal components of space heaters regularly to ensure optimal performance. Dust buildup can block vents, reducing efficiency.

Use a Programmable or "Eco" Mode - Many newer space heaters have programmable modes or an energy saving setting that will adjust the temperature or turn off automatically to save power. Use these modes to maximize efficiency.

Supplement with Other Heating - Use a space heater to supplement central heating or to heat only certain rooms. Relying solely on space heaters for whole home heating will use much more energy.

Alternatives to Space Heaters

There are several alternatives to using space heaters to heat your home:

Central Heating

  • Central heating systems like furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps can warm your entire home efficiently. They distribute heat through vents and ductwork.

  • More energy-efficient overall than heating a single room.

  • Provides consistent temperatures throughout the home.

  • Higher upfront costs for equipment and installation.

Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

  • Burning wood provides radiant heat and a cozy feel.

  • Firewood is renewable and inexpensive in some areas.

  • High pollution and particulate emissions. Requires proper ventilation.

  • Labor-intensive to keep fueled and burning properly.

Electric Radiant Heaters

  • Mounted on walls or ceilings to provide direct warmth.

  • Energy-efficient, no heat lost to ducts.

  • Don't heat the air, so rooms feel chilly. Better for small spaces.

  • Hardwired into the home's electrical system.

Thermal Curtains and Blinds

  • Prevent heat loss through windows.

  • Layer with thick drapes or cellular shades.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip windows for added insulation.

  • Won't actively heat a room but help retain warmth.

Improving Insulation

  • Adding insulation to attics, walls and floors retains heat.

  • Sealing air leaks around doors, windows and outlets also helps.

  • A well-insulated home needs less active heating.

Using a Solar Generator to Power Space Heater

  • Recharges by solar energy, no additional fuel required.

  • With multiple outlets, it can also power other electrical appliances.

  • Safe for indoor use and low noise.

growatt solar generator

Space Heater vs Central Heating

When it comes to costs, using a space heater can often be more expensive than central heating for an entire home. Here's a comparison:

  • Central heating systems use gas, electricity, or geothermal energy to heat air or water which is then distributed throughout a home. This allows the entire home to be heated from one central source. Initial costs for installing a central heating system can be high, from $5,000 to $12,000 on average. However, central heating can provide even heat in all rooms and may have lower operating costs than using multiple space heaters.

  • In contrast, a space heater is only designed to heat the specific room it's located in. The electricity costs to run a space heater can add up quickly, especially if using multiple units. For example, running two 1500W space heaters for 8 hours a day may use 30 kWh, costing around $3.60 per day at $0.12/kWh. In a month this could cost over $100 in electricity.

  • Compared to paying for one central heating system for the whole home, using multiple plug-in space heaters may be less efficient and cost more per month, even though initial purchase costs are lower. However, in some cases like heating just one room or supplementing inadequate central heat, a space heater can be a cost-effective option.

So in summary, while space heaters may appear cheap upfront, the operating costs over time often make central heating more economical for whole home heating. Carefully evaluate the efficiency and costs before choosing between the two options.

Standby Power Usage

Even when a space heater is turned off, it will still draw a small amount of power when plugged into an outlet. This is known as standby power or phantom load. For most space heaters, the standby power draw is quite minimal, usually between 1-2 watts.

This means that when your space heater is not actively heating, it is still consuming a tiny amount of electricity as long as it remains plugged in. This small electricity usage accounts for the display lights, internal circuits, and other functions that still operate even in standby mode.

Over the course of a year, this standby power can add up to a few kilowatt hours of energy use. Although not a significant amount, you can eliminate this standby power entirely by unplugging your space heater when it's not needed. This ensures zero electricity is used when the heater is off.

Overall, the standby power draw of 1-2 watts is trivial compared to the 500-1500 watts used when the space heater is actually turned on and operating. But unplugging it when not in use will stop all power draw and is an easy way to save that small amount of excess electricity.


In summary, space heaters do use a significant amount of electricity to generate heat, typically drawing between 500-1500 watts. The exact electricity consumption depends on the size and heating capacity of the specific space heater.

A 1500 watt space heater running for 1 hour will use 1.5 kWh of electricity. If used daily for 8 hours, it could add over 12 kWh per day to your electricity usage, and over 300 kWh per month during cold weather.

The cost to run a space heater also adds up over time. With average electricity rates, it can cost over $150 per month and up to $1500 per year to run a 1500 watt space heater daily.

While space heaters are an effective way to heat a single room or supplement central heating, it's important to be aware of their high electricity demands. Monitoring usage, setting an appropriate temperature, and using a properly sized heater for the space can help maximize efficiency. But in general, space heaters will significantly increase electricity consumption compared to alternatives. If you want to save money on your energy bill in the long term, try investing in a Growatt solar generator!

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