Everything you need to know about space heaters

When it comes to home heating, one of the most hotly-debated issues – if you’ll pardon the pun – is around space heaters. What’s the best kind of space heater to buy? How much does it cost to run a space heater?

You can book a HeyBryan Expert who specializes in heating and ventilation (HVAC) to inspect your central heating performance to determine if there’s a way to improve it. However, if you believe a space heater will do the spot heat treatment you need for a particular room, here’s what to consider and how much it costs to run a space heater.

Types of space heaters

There are two main types of space heaters – radiant and electric units.

Radiant heaters heat an object, person or area nearby with infrared rays. These heaters are good at zone heating such as warming up a cold floor or cold corner. However, they are not ideal if you need the heat to circulate throughout your whole room. 

Electric heaters use a heat exchanger to turn cold air into warm air and a fan pushes the heat out. Electric space heaters heat a whole room quickly however they are generally less energy-efficient and can increase your hydro costs.


Space heaters are available in watt sizes and the most popular choice is 1,500 watts. When figuring out what size you need, it generally takes about 10 watts to heat one square foot of space. However, if your room is poorly insulated, has many windows or high ceilings, consider needing 12 watts per square foot to heat it.

Cost to run a space heater

To figure out how much your space heater costs to run, take the watt size of the space heater, divide by 1,000 and multiply by your electricity rate to discover the cost per hour. 

Hydro rates vary, as well as time-of-day use depending on peak and non-peak periods. In general, rates range from about .07 to .14 cents in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, on average.

Let’s do the math based on .10 cents per kilowatt:

  • 1,500-watt space heater / 1,000 = 1.5 kilowatts
  • 1.5 kilowatts x .10 cents per kilowatt = .15 cents/hour
  • .15 cents/hour x 24 hours = $3.60 per day
  • $3.60 x 30 days (running 24 hours a day) = $108/month

Or conversely, you can use this calculation if you know your current electricity rate:

  • Multiply 1,500 watts by X hours of use = A
  • Multiply A by your electricity rate per khW hour = B
  • Divide B by 1,000

Space heaters are a great way to warm up a specific room for a short period of time. Consider turning down your central heating temperature so you can zone in on the space you want heated without spending more money than you need to.

To examine your home heating needs, book a HeyBryan Expert who specializes in heating and ventilation (HVAC). Each HeyBryan Expert has been vetted, background checked, and approved by the HeyBryan team so you can feel comfortable having an Expert in your home to complete your tasks safely.

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