Are Electric-Powered Heaters Really Efficient?

Electric heaters often promise a ton of heat without consuming a ton of energy. While nobody doubts how warm they can really get, the effectiveness of these heating systems is somewhat up for debate. In fact, there is quite a bit of evidence that suggests these heaters may not be all they promise to be. In fact, electric heaters often consume a ton of energy and place a lot of added strain on your electrical grid without a ton of benefit to your overall comfort.

Here is the truth about four popular types of electric heating systems and whether or not they’re the right choice for your home.

Electric Space Heaters

Electric space heaters are small, standalone heating units that can be plugged in virtually anywhere in your home. They produce heat by running current through a resistor coil, and these coils often pass the heat into blades that then heat passing air that is forced through by a blower fan. These systems do heat up quickly, and you usually don’t have to wait more than two or three minutes for them to reach their ideal temperature. However, the benefits of these systems are minimal.

Space heaters are really only good in extremely small areas. They’re good for adding some heat under a cold desk or to a corner where you’re working on a project. Larger space heaters may be good for a small bedroom or an entire single-room office space. However, they usually don’t have enough power to heat a large living space, kitchen, or dining room. And these systems often use more energy than most people realize. While they are an eco-friendlier option than central heating, particularly if you only need to heat a tiny area, electric space heaters can and do add up. Plus they often create cold pockets throughout your home due to inconsistency, they wear out quickly, and they can be dangerous if accidentally bumped or knocked over.

Electric Blankets

Electric blankets are popular for those who particularly dislike cold weather. They make a great addition to a cold bed or a friendly and warm companion for relaxing on the couch. They’re built to be safe in a number of circumstances, and higher-end models even include features like more precise temperature control and automatic timers that shut them off after a set amount of time (allowing for safe use while sleeping).

However, electric blankets are not as energy-efficient as many people think, and likewise, they don’t actually heat the room they are in. All they really do is provide you with warmth, not the environment around you. For this reason, it might seem a little strange to compare them with the other entries on this list. However, we feel it’s appropriate because they are immensely popular substitutes for a full-fledged heating system.

Electric Radiative Heaters

Electric radiative heaters are units that are permanently-installed heating units, often found throughout a home. This is particularly true for older and smaller homes as well as older apartments and townhomes. These units were affordable, required no gas connections or ventilation, and thus became the most practical choice when constructing a number of units all at once. You can usually tell them by their distinct, red-hot glowing coil running around a heater core, which is usually shielded by a protective grate. These heaters also don’t usually have a fan that forces the heat out into the room, instead opting for allowing ambient air movement to transport the heat.

However, as far as heating options go, there may not be a more inefficient method. These old heaters use a ton of energy, and their age means that they likely use even more today than they did while they were new. These systems require a ton of current in order to get their heating coils up to the ideal temperature, and you often need to keep them on for long periods of time in order to start to even slightly increase the indoor temperature in your home.

Electric Heat Pumps

Electric heat pumps are by far the most effective and efficient model of indoor heating found on the market today. These are a central, forced-air heating unit, so homes without a pre-existing furnace or electric heating system may find it difficult to install one of these systems, but for those who can, the results are simply unmatched.

Electric heat pumps don’t actually produce heat, but instead capture it from the air outside, compress it in a compressor, and send it indoors where it is passed into the air through a heat exchanger. From there, the heated air is forced around your home using a blower fan. This process creates far less heat than gas-burning furnaces, old electric radiators, or really just about any other type of heating system available on the market today when compared to the amount of energy consumed for it.

Is your home struggling to keep up with your electrical demands while you have your heater running? Get your electrical system inspected by the pros at Lightning Bug Electric! Dial (404) 471-3847 today.