It’s time to face reality. The days are shorter. The holidays are over. The weather is colder. Winter, in all its stark glory, is fully upon us. And with the temperatures dropping and the potential for snow ever present, you’ll definitely want a cozy home to enjoy. The only problem? Your apartment has lousy heat. Or the one room your central heating system doesn’t reach is your beloved den. And bingeing on Netflix loses a bit of its luster when you’re shivering. Fortunately, you can easily remedy this situation by investing in an energy-efficient space heater.
Of course, there’s a lot to unpack when purchasing a space heater. For starters, there are two basic types from which to choose: electric and petroleum based. Petroleum-based heaters use oil, propane, natural gas, kerosene, or gasoline for power. These are often quite efficient because they burn fairly completely. This is why they are frequently used for central heating systems whenever possible. However, the downside to petroleum-based space heaters is that they require good ventilation. In fact, they must either tap into a direct vent that connects to an exhaust or be used exclusively outdoors.
Electric heaters are less efficient but typically safer and more versatile. They can also be further subdivided. For starters, you have convection heaters. These tend to be the most energy efficient, especially for large, enclosed spaces. Convection heat works by warming the surrounding air. And though it can take a little while for a room to heat up, the warmth will linger even after you turn off the device.
Conversely, you can opt for a radiant or infrared heater. These models direct heat at specific people (or objects). They warm up rather quickly. However, the hot air dissipates just as fast the minute you turn off the heater. Ceramic heaters are another option. These have the ability circulate air while focusing the heat on where it’s most needed. And they can remain cool to the touch. Finally, you can also purchase panel (or micathermic) heaters which combine both radiant and convection technology. These appliances often heat up rapidly and distribute warm air throughout the entire room.
Factors to consider
Heat Distribution – The best energy efficient heaters have the ability to quickly and evenly distribute hot air around the room. This means that they don’t just provide warmth to whichever people or objects are directly in front of them. They are designed to have a wider distribution and push air farther away. Space heaters made with oscillation systems are especially adept at this. And since they are relatively fast at heating rooms, you don’t have to use them for as long a time.
Timers – We’ve been saying it for years: timers are a great way to conserve energy. You can use them to set specific times/parameters for when your heater turns on and off. This will prevent you from running the heater unnecessarily.
Thermostats – Most energy efficient space heaters are equipped with easy-to-use thermostats. This affords you the opportunity to precisely choose the temperature you want so you don’t expend additional energy.
Programming Capabilities – Some of the more high tech heaters on the market today have programming capabilities. Hence, you can pre-set different temperatures for different times of day. Moreover, a handful of space heaters are smart devices so you can control them via your phone. All of this lets you maximize your comfort while curbing your energy output.
Automatic Shut-off – You don’t want to a space heater that will run indefinitely. Aside from being a safety risk, that’s simply not efficient or cost effective. The best heaters will automatically shut off once they’ve been running for a while. If you’re not done using it, you will need to physically turn it back on.
Overheating Safety/Kill-Switch – A growing number of space heaters are manufactured with overheat protection. Should your heater become too hot, this feature will cut power. That way you don’t have to worry about damaging your electric circuits or starting a fire, both of which we assume you would like to avoid if possible.
Portability – You can also cut down on your appliances and conserve energy by choosing a space heater that’s portable. After all, you really only need one good device that’s capable of being moved from room to room (unless you live in a massive, crowded house). Be on the lookout for lightweight heaters that are equipped with handles and/or casters.
Room Size – Certainly, you want to select a space heater whose power is appropriate for the size of the room. The higher the heat output, the more energy used. A small space might only require 750 watts of power while a larger space might need 1,500 watts. Choose a heater that will provide enough warmth for the square footage and nothing more.
Fan-Only Option – Space heaters that are made with a fan-only option offer a nice little benefit. As the seasons change and the weather gets warmer, you can then use your heater as a fan. Imagine that!
Size of Heater – As with nearly all devices, you certainly want to take size into consideration. Many people want space heaters that are relatively compact. This makes them easier to move and to store and also means that they’ll be relatively unobtrusive whenever you need to use them.
Noise – Noise is another factor you must think about. While most space heaters are relatively quiet, there is definitely a range. Some might whir or click or hum. Make sure you find a heater that’s as quiet as possible or emits a white noise that you know you’ll be able to tolerate.
Intuitive Controls – As with any piece of technology, you want to find a space heater that is simple to use. You don’t want to accidentally set your heater to the highest temperature possible and then not know how to adjust accordingly.
Before we finally delve into specific heaters, we just want to briefly touch upon a few safety issues. That’s because there are risks involved if you use these appliances improperly; they can lead to everything from burns to house fires. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you avoid leaving the heater running in unattended rooms. Moreover, don’t leave it plugged in overnight while you’re sleeping (c’mon, have some trust in your blankets). You also shouldn’t place space heaters on a rug or near any object that’s combustible or flammable. And given their high current, they should not be used in conjunction with extension cords or power strips. Of course, you should also avoid having your heater near anything wet. That’s just common sense! We also encourage you to look for space heaters designed with a kill-switch; these machines automatically turn off should they ever accidentally tip over. Lastly, you’ll want to consider whether or not your heater has a protective housing that remains relatively cool to the touch, even after the device has been on for a while.
All right, we’ve cleared our conscience and have faith that you’ll operate your space heater safely. So now you are ready for our top picks:
Vornado AVH2 — $69
The Vornado AVH2 is a top-rated energy efficient space heater – and with good reason. Its patented air oscillating technology ensures the warm air will quickly and evenly circulate around the room. The AVH2 is also equipped with two heat settings: 750 watts (ideal for smaller spaces) and 1,500 watts (powerful enough for medium and large rooms). And there’s even an automatic climate control that allows you to adjust both the heat and fan speed so you can maintain a specific temperature. Additionally, the heater features an easy-to-read digital display along with push-button controls. Just as critical, the Vornado is designed with a protective case. Hence, the heater stays cool to the touch even when you’re blasting it. It’s also equipped with an automatic shut-off system, an especially welcome feature if you tend to be absent-minded!
Dr. Infrared Heater — $114
Armed with a sleek, retro look, you’re bound to love the Dr. Infrared Heater. After all, it produces 1,500 watts of heat – more than enough to warm up a 200-square-foot room. Of course, you’re probably wondering about its efficiency. Well, that can largely be attributed to Dr. Infrared’s dual, complementary heating system. This space heater smartly uses an infrared quartz tube to heat objects that are directly in front of it, while it relies on a PTC heating element to warm the surrounding air. Importantly, there’s also an energy-saving auto mode, replete with both high and low settings. Additionally, you can rest assured that this product has been designed with safety in mind. That’s right – Dr. Infrared has both tip-over and overheat protection. It’s also highly portable thanks to its compact design and casters. But the heater’s best facet? It’s extremely quiet.
Sturdy and chic, this Lasko space heater easily blends into any room. What’s more, its small size belies its power; the 6435 can pump out over 1,500 watts of heat. The unit also oscillates, guaranteeing heat will spread around the room efficiently. Additionally, thanks to multiple settings, you can easily conserve energy in smaller spaces. And fear not – the Lasko 6435 has built-in safety features. It’s designed with a cool touch exterior that actually remains cold even after it has been running for hours. It’s also manufactured with both overheat protection as well as a timer. The heater can be programmed anywhere from one to seven hours and automatically shuts off when it reaches the time entered. Best of all, it comes fully assembled. Simply slip the heater out of the box, plug it in and start getting toasty!
If you’re on the hunt for a thin, lightweight and highly portable heater, look no further than the DeLonghi Mica Panel. Many people are drawn to this product due to its flexibility; it can either rest on the floor or be mounted to the wall. Plus, the handles and wheels make it rather easy to move. Safety is also of primary importance to the folks at DeLonghi so the heater is designed to immediately shut off if it falls over. Further, on the rare occasion it overheats, there’s a thermal cut-off that is triggered by an internal switch. Most importantly, the Delonghi has an adjustable thermostat as well as two heat settings (750 watts and 1,500 watts respectively). Therefore, you’re certain to achieve your desired temperature. And thanks to its micathermic technology, the DeLonghi is able to generate consistent, multi-directional heating.
An energy efficient, ceramic space heater that resembles a funky stereo speaker? Yes, please! Indeed, this model from Honeywell has a modern design and is ideal for tabletop placement. And don’t be fooled by its relatively small size. This Honeywell offers 1,500 watts of heat. Fortunately, it also has both a high and low setting so you can get toasty and conserve energy as well. It’s a nice balance. Moreover, the heater features an adjustable thermostat for easy temperature control. And, similar to the devices listed above, the Honeywell HCE200W has a cool touch housing, overheat protection, and a kill switch for when it accidentally tips over.
If you don’t want to drop too much coin on a space heater, you’ll dig the Lasko 754200. Its budget-friendly price tag belies a solid device. A 1,500 watt heater, this Lasko is highly portable and highly durable. It also boasts three settings (high/low/fan only) and has an adjustable thermostat to boot. So relax – it’s definitely energy efficient. Additionally, the heater is incredibly quiet while running, leaving you with need to worry about noise distractions. Finally, the Lasko features a cool touch exterior and automatic overheat protection.
The Duraflame DFS-550-21 offers a striking combination of energy efficiency and an old-timey aesthetic. It’s also freestanding and lightweight so you can move the heater from room to room as needed. But don’t worry – it’s made from highly durable materials. Additionally, the Duraflame is capable of producing up to 4,600 BTU of hot air and ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 watts. This means it can provide enough heat for a 400-square-foot room. As if all that wasn’t enough, it stays cool to the touch so it’s safe around both children or pets. And the Duraflame will instantly shut off before it overheats. Lastly, its realistic flame effect provides a nice, relaxing ambiance. You couldn’t ask for more from a space heater.
The Honeywell HZ-7300 is a great option for anyone closely monitoring their energy usage. That’s because it’s outfitted with smart technology that indicates the amount of energy expended and overall performance efficiency. Moreover, this particular Honeywell heater has a programmable thermostat along with two heat settings. And thanks to an oscillation feature, it’s pretty good when it comes to heating relatively large, open areas. Of course, safety is also of paramount importance. Thankfully, the Honeywell HZ-7300 is designed with a cool touch safety housing along with a tip-over switch and overheat protection.
Dyson AM04 Hot & Cool Heater — $496
Always a leader in innovation, Dyson doesn’t disappoint with the AM04 Hot & Cool Heater. Tapping into its unique air multiplier technology, the Dyson is able to draw in surrounding air as well as provide oscillation for ample distribution. Indeed, this long-range heat projection means you’ll be warm regardless of where you’re sitting in the room. The AM04 also lets you select the precise temperature you want and since it’s built with an intelligent thermostat, it’s guaranteed to stay there. Best of all, should it accidentally fall over, the heater will instantly shut off.
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