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Space heaters- cheaper than central heater?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
My electric bill was huge this summer, mostly from AC since dryer and stove are gas. I'm really hoping not to spend a ton of $$ to heat the house.

We've got a mobile home which is quite drafty and poorly insulated, and we generally only use the living room and kitchen during the day after school/work. So I've got lots of ideas about how to weatherproof the place...

I'm thinking about getting one of those electric heaters that looks like a woodstove and am wondering if they (or other electric heaters) generally cheaper to use than central heat? Share your experiences, please oh please.
post #2 of 18
If your central heater on gas? Depending on where you live and the accessibility of good wood, I'd consider getting a woodstove. We had one in our house and after the central heater died and we couldn't afford to fix it ( we owned at the time) we used wood for heat. We didn't live in a very cold climate though. I think that winter we bought 2 cords of hardwood ( oak mostly ) for about 200 dollars total ( this was about 15 years ago ) it got us through the whole winter.

Generally electric space heaters are power hogs and best suited as supplemental heating for small rooms. For instance we used one in dd's bedroom that winter because the woodstove didn't heat that part of the house very well.
post #3 of 18
Do you just need heat for the bedrooms at night for sleeping?

Maybe you could use electric blankets instead of space heaters, I'll bet they use way less electricity.

When I was a kid my bedroom was unheated (we lived in upstate NY) and that's all I used in the winter.
post #4 of 18
We use electric space heaters in the winter. They are ceramic, I think? Anyway, in the $30 range at somewhere like Home Depot.

We live in Georgia, which must be taken into account. But, really, my SIL who lives in Ohio works her heat very similarly, and their house is comfortable. We have gas heat, and we keep the thermostat on about 58 or so. During the day, if I sit down to read or something, I'll turn it on in whatever room I'm in. Most of the time, honestly, just moving around and doing stuff keeps us warm enough. I also use our oven to cook a good bit in the winter, and it heats up the whole house (it's in the center of our house and not especially well vented).

In the evenings, however, we almost always use the space heater, while watching TV. We also cuddle up under throws and blankets on the couch.

At night, we seem to be okay with quilts and blankets, so we don't need it.

All that to say....our electric bill didn't really go up when we started using the little space heater. Our gas bill has stayed reasonable because we can keep the thermostat so low. It works well for us.
post #5 of 18
we had one that when on low and combined with keeping our heater on about 66 degrees (which was as cool as we could put it because otherwise my BIL complained, and he rented the basement from us at the time) kept our entire upstairs (925 sq ft...we just left the doors open) nice and toasty.
post #6 of 18
i bought one for thirty or forty bucks last year...a ceramic one, i believe. i have to say, best purchase in a while.

central heat in this trailer is on gas...and was WAY too expensive. the heater kept us warm enough (though i'll buy a second one this year) and was WAAAAY cheap.
post #7 of 18
My most expensive electric bill was $98 during the coldest month. I used those oil filled radiators. This in in an uninsulated house as well but we were very comfortable. Basically my heating bill was $65. My neighbor in a newish house had a gas bill that was $350 the same month.
post #8 of 18
Your utility bills and housing costs amaze me every time you post, Sharlla!

Our high energy bills are in the summer. My highest this summer was $190. My brother's (same size house) was $350. That's about average for around here. Yuck.
post #9 of 18
Well in all fairness we do have a gas water heater. So that is probably about $10 worth of electricity that doesn't get added. I HATE gas, it's so much more expensive. I know our bills are going to be much mere now that I have moved to the sticks. Our latest bill was $42 which sucks because back at our other place our bill was $24 the same time last year.
post #10 of 18
Gas heat is pretty much the norm where I live. I do know someone way out in the country that gets a big tank filled with oil (?) every year. And, when we lived farther south, we had an electric heat pump. But, most places around here are gas.
post #11 of 18
Yeah they are using propane tanks here. I won't because they are still a lot more. Plus you have to either rent or buy a tank. Now that we have an electric water heater I aw sure that is attributing to the higher bill as well as not using eregy saving bulbs. I really should get them out of storage. Looking at last years thread I see that my usage is actually lees (I used 380 kwh last august)

Hmm looking at my bill I see my actual usage was $31(358 kwh) but they add on a $10 customer charge. That sucks.
post #12 of 18
We have a gas heater and have small electric space heaters we use in the winter. It saves us money due to the high prices for gas this past year or so. It's also handy to be able to heat up the areas we are in, as opposed to the entire house.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hmmm....I'll have to check to see if the heater is gas or not. That would be terrific, since it seems gas is much cheaper here than electricity.

My stove (even the range) does great in keeping the house toasty...I usually avoiding baking or doing a lot of cooking in the afternoons during summer since it heated up the living room and kitchen so much!

We would really only need the electric heater in the living room for a few hours after school before going to bed and on weekends. I would just love to hear if it's cheaper to operate than central heating. It sounds like folks' experiences are varied...keep 'em coming.
post #14 of 18
My father lives in this large Victorian brick home with high ceilings and a bunch of rooms he doesn't use (closed off). It is just him and my step-mother. For them (this is in the cold midwest) it *is* cheaper to use those very same heaters you are talking about. I believe his bill went from over $400/month in the winter to about $100.

Step-mother goes to work every day, dad's retired and usually outside tinkering around, so they have them off during the day quite a bit. The ability to have only one on (in the room you are occupying) must be a big help, too. HTH!

I'm sure it depends on your situation, but sounds like your is the kind of situation that this would work well with. Good Luck!
post #15 of 18
Space Heaters are very bad fire hazards! And don't rely on their automatic shut off feature! What causes more space heater fires are shorts through the cords or things falling on top or being too close to them! No less than 20 fires in my town last winter due to space heaters. Those families were a lot worse off after the fire than they would have been paying a little more for regular heat!

My suggestion? Go on the budget plan w/ the heating company and have them come out and do a free energy audit. They'll check for drafts and help you make the changes you need to insulate.

My budget plan is around $100 a month, and when I catch up from the winter, drops to usage rate (around $40). Plus, if you're very poor, you may qualify for subsidized heating. And if you have small children, they almost cannot legally shut off your heat.

Please don't think I'm trying to scare you, but there were so many horrible fires in my town last year, I'm very frightened about what could happen...it's just something to seriously think about!
post #16 of 18
i've been using a space heater for years! and it has never cost me much at all! the newer ceramic heaters are freaking fantastic! honestly! you can set the temperature you want, put timers for them to start up or shut off... most of them even come with remotes! i haven't found that they jack up my electricity much at all.

i'm a big fan!
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissMommyNiceNice View Post
Space Heaters are very bad fire hazards! And don't rely on their automatic shut off feature! What causes more space heater fires are shorts through the cords or things falling on top or being too close to them! No less than 20 fires in my town last winter due to space heaters. Those families were a lot worse off after the fire than they would have been paying a little more for regular heat!

My suggestion? Go on the budget plan w/ the heating company and have them come out and do a free energy audit. They'll check for drafts and help you make the changes you need to insulate.

My budget plan is around $100 a month, and when I catch up from the winter, drops to usage rate (around $40). Plus, if you're very poor, you may qualify for subsidized heating. And if you have small children, they almost cannot legally shut off your heat.

Please don't think I'm trying to scare you, but there were so many horrible fires in my town last year, I'm very frightened about what could happen...it's just something to seriously think about!
These are not the type of heaters the OP is talking about. She is talking about electric fireplaces.
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks, mamas. These were very helpful (along with another thread on how to keep a warm house economically). I've decided to get an electric heater (altho maybe not the one I was originally interested in) and close off rooms when we're running it. I may also get another couple small ones to move around the house (for laundry time in the superuninsulated laundry room) and will price electric blankets. Or even little heating pads to warm up our beds at night. I was planning on making little rice-filled socks for hand warmers for ds in the car in the morning, but they could also probably double for bed warmer-uppers in the evenings?
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