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With global warming a serious concern and climate change looming over us, the weather has become highly unpredictable. You may realize that the summers although getting hotter are still bearable while the winters have taken a toll on most of us. Winters not only bring Christmas, spiced-lattes and family gatherings but also extreme cold and diseases like the cough and cold. It has become important for all of us to take special precautions and stay comfortably warm during winters and hence heaters have made it back into consumers’ homes. We will show you the different types of heaters and which one of these types of heaters are the most energy efficient space heater.
Before we go into the details of space heaters and which one is the most energy efficient space heater, you may be wondering why not just have your fireplace set up and let it do all the warming up.
Are fireplaces better than space heaters?
Well, traditionally people have been using fireplaces to heat up their homes, however, they are considered to be the least energy efficient because of the chimney. Statistics suggest that around 80 to 90% of the heat from a fireplace escapes through the chimney. Bear in mind that there are different types of fireplaces as well but the one we are referring to here is your traditional wood-burning fireplace or natural gas fireplace. Gas inserts fireplace is still better than the traditional wood-burning or natural gas fireplaces, however, they still lose around 20% of their heat.
Fireplaces not only lose their heat but also rack up a hefty bill in terms of fuel (in this case would be wood or natural gas) and require cleaning from time to time. Chimneys attached to fireplaces need to be dusted too once a year to clear them up so that the smoke can leave the building. If the chimneys are not maintained annually then this could cause a blockage with a lot of smoking staying inside the house causing health hazards. In short, fireplaces can not be compared to the most energy efficient space heater or any space heater in this sense unless they’re an electric fireplace.
Now that we have established that fireplaces, although add a lot of charm to the room, are highly inefficient and therefore we do not recommend getting fireplaces. Instead of fireplaces, get space heaters. Space heaters are efficient but not all of them work great or provide the right amount of heat to keep a room comfortable. Most energy efficient space heaters have replaced the traditional fireplace. So let’s look at the different types of space heaters.
Different types of space heaters
Just like there are different variants of certain products to fulfill a particular requirement, there are different types of space heaters that serve a particular purpose. Some may be great for indoors while others thrive in outdoor environments. We are going to take you through the many different types of space heaters, how well they work, what do they lack, and which one of them is the most energy efficient space heater.
Oil-filled heaters are some of the most common types of heaters you would’ve come across. They can be found in homes, educational institutions, offices, shops, and more. These heaters have been around for a while and therefore are still being used in older buildings to heat up the building and its residents. The oil in this type of heater is used as a heat reservoir and is heated up before traveling through the pipes to disperse heat. The heater although is known as an oil-filled heater is run on electricity to heat up the oil reservoir.
Infrared space heaters use electromagnetic radiation to transfer heat from the heater to an area where it is cold. The wavelength, depending on the heat, can be 1 millimeter or more. Infrared heaters can work in vacuums and also in the open atmosphere. You might come across these types of heaters in outdoor areas or restaurants, bars, and clubs during winters to keep the crowd warm.
Tungsten wire in infrared heaters is what is used to generate heat. The wire is coiled up and due to this infrared heaters are able to cover more surface areas. Tungsten can be exchanged with carbon and other alternatives, however, every alternative has its pros and cons. The most common and efficient of these are tungsten wires and therefore you will find this in most infrared heaters.
Convection heaters are also some of the standard heating units you might find in many buildings and localities around you. Convection heaters use thermal conduction to heat up the air. The heated air leaves the heater through vents. As the hot air goes out, cold air which is heavier is pushed down inside the heater. When cold air is transported inside a convection heater, it warms up and is released as hot air. This process repeats itself during the period the convection heater is turned on.
There are three common types of convection heaters and one runs on electricity while the other two runs on gas and oil. Fan heaters are a range of electric convection heaters while those used in commercial and industrial uses are powered by gas or oil.
Ceramic heaters from its name might suggest that these heaters are made out of ceramic. However, don’t be fooled as these heaters are mostly made from plastic and steel. The heating element used in these types of heaters is made from ceramic. The ceramic in the heater is responsible for heating the air that goes through this type of heater. There are two different types of ceramic heaters and they are convection ceramic heaters and radiant ceramic heaters.
Convection ceramic heaters are the most common among the two. Electricity is used to heat up aluminum parts which then transfers the heat to ceramic heating elements. Cool air is drawn from the bottom of the heater and pushed through the hot ceramic unit and comes from the top as hot air.
While on the other hand, radiant ceramic heaters are essentially the same thing but it does not draw in cold air and pushes out hot. The hot temperature of the heater is absorbed by colder objects around the heater. The objects slowly start to heat up and give a feeling of warmth around the room.
Most energy efficient space heaters comparison
All the heaters mentioned are all efficient in some way or the other when comparing it to traditional heating methods like a fireplace.
Oil-filled heaters use oil to heat the metal and therefore radiates heat to warm its surroundings. Although it uses electricity to heat the oil, the heater is efficient because the heating ability continues for a while even when you turn off the oil-filled heater. These types of heaters are perfect for small-sized rooms and can help save electricity bills as you can turn these off if you feel that the room is warm enough. Even off, the heater will continue to radiate heat for some time. However, good luck heating up a large-sized or a medium-sized room with one oil-filled heater. You will definitely end up struggling with that.
Infrared heaters are perfect for garages or stores or restaurants as it is used to heat up objects rather than the room itself. It does not require any fuel besides electricity to operate. These types of heaters are 20% more energy efficient than traditional space heaters. However, the biggest drawback to infrared heaters is the inability to heat a room. Once turned off, the temperatures will start to drop drastically since the room or air is not heated up with these types of heaters. The red lights might also be a huge distraction especially if you decide to have infrared heaters in your room.
Ceramic heaters are considered to be efficient as they use air to disperse heat. These types of heaters are able to warm up spaces up to 200 square feet making them very efficient in terms of cost savings. However, the ceramic in the heater takes longer to heat up and therefore some might not prefer ceramic heaters in this aspect.
Convection heaters are also considered as one of the most energy efficient space heaters on the market. They do not dry up the air unlike many other space heaters, and in places where mold is a really big issue, these heaters fight mold easily. These heaters might be really great for heating large rooms too, however, are not portable. They are also quite bulky and once the electricity is off, the heat in the room drops at a fast pace.
Which one of these is the most energy efficient space heater?
There are certain factors that one must look into before deciding which one is the most energy efficient space heaters. Some people might prefer gas over electricity because electricity might not be stable in those areas. However, these are pertaining to developing countries. In developed nations where electricity is abundant, other factors come into play when deciding which one is the most energy efficient space heater.
Gas heaters, as mentioned previously, are notorious for heat losses. Most of the heat generated by gas heaters is lost while electric heaters retain most of the heat making them 100% efficient. If you’re using renewable energy like solar or wind power to power up your electric heater then there is nothing more efficient than that. It’s much cleaner and greener for the planet.
Every heater has its own advantages and disadvantages. We’ve mentioned them to you so that you can make an informed decision. However, whether it is oil, gas, or electric heater, do note that these work well only if they are used as a secondary source of heating while the primary source being your central heating unit (the one most commonly referred to as a boiler where the heat is dispersed through the house through vents). Having these stand-alone and act as a primary source of heat will require far more energy making them inefficient heating sources.
Is your central heating more efficient than most energy efficient space heaters?
Heating in winters is the most essential thing as everybody likes a warm and comfortable house. However, central heating accounts for around 60 to 65% of your total energy bills. Don’t think about cutting central heating off and replacing them with space heaters because that will lead to even higher electric bills. Most energy efficient space heaters don’t compare to the heating and warmth provided by central heating systems. So, how do you make your central heating more efficient?
There are a couple of things you can do to have a really efficient heating system. Start by investing in an eco boiler. This will immediately save you $300 to $500 in energy costs. You can also look at upgrading your already existing storage heaters with some new energy-efficient ones. Yes, we are asking you to invest in the new but think about how much savings you will make during winters for the next 3 to 5 years. Boilers can even last more than 10 years.
Air source heat pumps are also a great alternative to gas-intensive boilers. These heat pumps take in air from the outside and heat the liquid refrigerant inside the unit. This turns them into gas which is then heated up further using the heat pump which works on electricity.
Once heated, the air then travels to the heating pipes around your homes just like any regular boiler does. The gas then condenses back to a liquid and the process repeats over and over again heating your home as and when required. You can even heat water storage tanks using air source heat pumps and heat pipes. The heated water is then used for showers, baths, or even a quick wash during winters.
So all in all, most energy-efficient space heaters are great for heating small to medium-sized rooms. The energy costs depend on the type of space heater and the size of the room that you’re looking to heat up. However, having a decent primary source of heating like central heating units is required to survive comfortably during such harsh winters.