Should I use electric space heaters to save on heating?

Note. Pit rant due in a day or two. For now, looking for advice.

I thought of going GD on this as I’m sure it will be the subject of scientific thermal arguments and cites based on space travel and any other angle Dopers can come up with. So it’s IMHO for factual, semi-factual, and downright humorous suggestions.

Looking at my bill from Xcel Energy for September I get the following analysis based on comparison to last year’s same period:

> 3 degrees warmer (Yay global warming!) [sub]Kidding[/sub]

**Electric use per day (kwh) ** =

2004/Sep; 39.2. Cost per day is $2.52

2005/Sep; 27.8. Cost per day is $2.39 (See? I have started conserving!)
Gas therms per day =

2004/Sep; 0.9. Cost per day is $0.84

2005/Sep; 0.5. Cost per day is $1.01. (I’m paying more for less. Hence the thread)
One thing I have done is listen to my CD’s through the home theater instead of playing it through the TV. Don’t ask, it was more convenient. Anyway, figure in the elctric minus about 3 hours a day of not feeding electricity to the 36" flat-screen. That should help out with the electric side this month. Though I have no idea what the TV uses in regard to kwh.

Natural gas is going to be more expensive, and I assume the electric will as well since a lot of electricity is generated by burning natural gas. (It’s also produced by lignite coal, a major North Dakota industy, but that part is also reserved for the aforementioned rant.)

So my question posed is this.

Based on the above information/figures, am I better off buying a few electric space heaters to heat the living parts of the house? Leave out aspects such as frozen pipes, the furnace will still be set to a minimum of about 62 degrees if my diabolical plan is feasable.

I know electric space heaters suck energy more greedily than…edited being IMHO forum…but I’m thinking there’s a point where a ton of electricity is cheaper than a quarter-ton on natural gas.

Any help on this? I’m almost to the point of junking the 3 year old gas furnace and just shelling out for an electric furnace. I’m in North Dakota, winter will be expensive, I accept that. I’m just trying to slow the cash hemorragh. There is no stopping it.

Based on nothing but a few years’ experience, electric heat is EXPENSIVE. Almost anything is cheaper. We had a condo, which we rented out, and the heat was electric (and paid by the tenant). The electric bills often ran to well over $300 a month in the winter. This was a relatively small, 2-bedroom, one-floor apartment. And that was ten years ago.

I would guess space heaters are better if you use them to heat a room where you happen to be and not heat the parts of the house where you aren’t. Especially now that the kids are gone, we plan to set the heat about where you are going to, and only heat our bedroom at night. My wife works at home, and she is only going to heat her office.

In the Bay Area it never gets all that cold. This is one of the few times I’m glad I moved here.

I don’t know for sure, but I doubt that using space heaters to heat the entire house is efficient.

I was wondering the same thing, so I searched and found a two year old thread about the feasibility of using a space heater to augment your heating. Back then, natural gas was way cheaper than it’s going to be this winter, so the consensus was don’t bother. With the 50% rise in natural gas prices that is expected, I would think that augmenting with an electric space heater or maybe baseborad heaters is going to start to make sense, given somewhat limited, targeted use.

Ha, I use OIL heat (which is the most expensive way to heat, from what I’ve read), and this year, I’m planning on getting an electric space heater to heat the one room in which we spend the majority of our time, and turning the house thermostate down to about 62 degrees.

We consistenly go through about 200 gallons of fuel oil every two to three weeks. Figure that up at $2.49/gallon. And that’s with the thermostat set at 62 during the days when no one is home/nights when we’re in bed, and only 65 during the weekends and in the evenings. (I have a programable thermostat.) The company that comes each year to clean the furnace said that they could replace the furnace for about $1500 and it would use half the amount of oil, but the landlord won’t shell out the money to do so. (Guess who pays for the oil heat? Not him.)

Have you completly weather proofed your home? Insulation, plug up all the gaps, make sure the windows and doors seal. This would save you more than electric heat.

I just want to get a little space heater for under my desk because I work from home. I can’t help but think that I could lower the thermostat a good 7 or 8 degrees and still be warm and toasty! This is my first winter working from home full time, and I know from the 2 days per week from last year that it gets very chilly in this room. I cannot keep the heat below 68 or so without being very uncomfortable. This is an old, drafty house, and I will need something to keep me from shivering.

googled info
Then again, I live in an area where I’d consider a day I need long pants and a sweater to be a rare cold day.

Thanks for the responses. We put plastic over the windows inside and out and maintain the wetherstripping, but there’s just no hope in sealing everything off. (Though it does help a little bit)

We have one we use in the family room, and we’re thinking of getting one for the bedroom and a small one for the computer room. We’re also getting a small one for the bathroom. Ever gotten out of the shower at 7am when it’s -30? :eek:

All in all it looks like that’s the best bet for dealing with the prices this year. Thanks again everyone.

We had one of those radiator style electric heaters - it seemed to be more efficient that forced-air electric heaters, but that might have been wishful thinking on my part. I do believe they’re safer.

We’re going to be using our fireplace insert this year as much as we can. It’s in the family room/kitchen, which is where we spend most of our time. We’ll also use an electric blanket to pre-warm our bed at night.

We’ve got oil heat, and a 30-y/o furnace that I hope makes it through one more winter. We also have a contract with the oil supplier, and we won’t pay more than $2.29/gal, but that’s still 90 cents more than we paid last year. We’ll be wearing sweats around the house.

Fan forced heaters use twice as much electricity as non fan forced. The best heaters I’ve purchased were electric baseboard heaters. Unfortunately we gave them to a charity, shortly after installing our gas central unit.

Three years ago using all electric baseboard heaters cost me about 70% what propane did. I also kept most rooms at 45 degrees and my bedroom computer room at about 80 degrees. It’s a medical thing. I used a programable thermastat to save money with a gas furnace, but you heat every room at once. Seeing as gas has gone up a lot more than electricity here, I would still expect to save using electric.