Space Heater VS Electric Heat: What’s the Difference? - Backyard Boss
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Space Heater VS Electric Heat: What’s the Difference?

Keeping warm can be costly, inefficient, and difficult if you don’t know what the best way to go about it. In just the United States of America alone, over fifty percent of the average household’s energy bill is spent on heating up and cooling down their homes. But this expense is unavoidable when you live in a place where cold winters are prevalent. So, the question is, is there an effective way of heating up your home and saving on your bill?

The answer to this is not an easy one, it is very circumstantial and depends on a lot of different factors. This can depend on that the temperature is outside, how efficient the heaters are, how big the space you are trying to heat is, and much more. The situations can also vary day to day or per your needs, so there may not be only one heating method that can cover all your heating needs. So, let’s take a look at the two different methods of heating; electric heating and space heaters and compare the two. We will delve into the difference in these two different forms of heating, based on their costs, effectiveness and under what circumstances which one would be best to use.

Space Heater VS Electric Heat Comparisons

Space Heater ​​​Electric Heat
Space Heater
Electric Heat
  • Portable from room to room
  • Cheaper
  • Temporary solution
  • A permanent heat source
  • Costlier
  • Heats larger spaces

Electric (Central) Heating

Men hand regulate temperature on 45 degree in control panel of central heating

Electric or central heating is a warming system that is generally installed in most homes. It is usually the most popular form of heating that is used to heat homes all through North America. The central heating system is used to heat all parts of a house, it provides uniform heating across the whole home and is generally controlled by a centrally located thermostat.

The form of heating, as denoted by its name is generally generated based on electrical energy, but can also be powered by gas, or burning coal, wood, or even oil. Among these power sources, it is costlier to use is electricity.


When looking at the costs one of the first costs you notice is your electricity bill. This is the bill that contains the cost of your warming your house. This is generally quite expensive as generating electricity is expensive. When coal is used or natural gas is used to produce electricity, it results in one of the least effective ways of heating.

When the energy is converted from fuel to electricity, it wastes about seventy percent of the energy. After that when the energy travels through your home, even more of it is lost to the environment. This means that this method is not only costly, but it is also detrimental to the environment.

However, when it comes to really cold weather and you need your whole house to be at least warm to a certain degree of bearable, you need central heating to warm it up as it is more cost effective than purchasing several space heaters.


Hand turning a home thermostat knob to set temperature on energy saving mode. fahrenheit units. Composite image between a photography and a 3D background.

When it comes to the effectiveness of electrical heating, there are two different perspectives. It is highly effective and efficient if you need to raise the temperature of your whole house by a significant amount. This is ideal for harsh winters where temperatures are below freezing and in order to keep warm, you need the whole house to be warm. It is also ideal to heat up the house and then maintain a certain temperature as you can set it to stop heating once it reaches your desired temperature.

However, it is inefficient and less effective if you only need a small space in your home heated up such as the room you are currently sitting. This cannot only waste your money, but it is also highly inefficient as the energy travels everywhere instead of focusing on the area that you want to heat up.

Who should use it?

Electrical heating should be used in areas where there is severe winters or temperature drops. It should be used by people who need all or most of their home heated up to a certain temperature. It can be used in combination with space heaters as well. It can be used to heat the home to a certain temperature and then used to maintain a basic temperature to keep the house from freezing.

Space Heater

Halogen light heater

Space heaters are small, usually portable; heating devices that use the same type of electricity however they do not utilize transfer ducts as the electrical heating does. These space heaters can either use electrical energy or can be combustion based. The combustion-based space heaters are the least environmentally friendly and are also very dangerous as they can be a fire hazard. The combustion process may release harmful gases within the air as well.

The most effective space heaters are radiant or infrared heaters, which work by emitting infrared radiation towards the direction in which the device is facing. These are usually “smart” devices that have safety features which prevent overheating and have automatic tip-over turn off features to prevent fire hazards.


The costs associated with a space heater includes the cost of initially purchasing the heater, as well as the costs for running the heater. Generally, you can purchase an expensive space heater, or you can also look for cost-effective space heaters and you can even purchase them second hand.

Due to the fact that they only heat up a specific area they can save on your bill, however, it might not be cost effective if you have a large area to heat up or multiple rooms which require multiple space heaters. This is because the energy sources for both electrical heating and space heaters is the same.


Woman using a portable electric heater

Space heaters are highly effective, if used safely, when required to provide heat to a small area or one specific room. They can provide heat to a specific person and can be used as a great supplementary source of heating in addition to central heating by making the specific room in use more comfortable for the user. However, in extreme cold or large areas, it may be less effective than central heating.

Who should use it?

Space heaters are an ideal form of heating to use for anyone who wants some additional supplementary heating with their electrical heating or anyone with a small space that needs to be made more comfortable. It is perfect for anyone who needs heating for a single room or an office setting or any one person who is cold and does not want to impose their needs on others such as coworkers or other family members.  It is also ideal for raising the temperature a little but without wasting energy on heating up the whole house.


Heating is a basic requirement in places with harsh winters and colder climate. Although it can be difficult to cut down on heating costs and electricity bills, you can figure out a heating method that works best for you and your specific situation. Based on whether you have a small space or a large space you can choose to use electrical heating or a space heater or even a combination of both.

Central heating is more useful for harsher and colder climates and maintaining a constant heat and temperature throughout your home. However, space heaters are ideal for smaller spaces and more supplementary or slightly lighter heating. Hopefully, this article as able to help you see which method of heating is useful for what and will be able to help you decide which method to use or whether to use both methods.