With heating accounting for about 45 percent of energy bills — the biggest energy expense in the average home — you probably want to be smarter about your home heating system by choosing a more cost-effective heating option. So, which is cheaper? Space heaters or central heating systems?

It is cheaper to run space heaters than central heating because space heaters generally run on less electricity than central heating systems. However, this only applies when only one space heater is used.

Space heaters or central heating being cheaper depends mainly on certain factors such as how many rooms you want to heat, how cold it gets where you live and how often you need heat.

This article will cover how all these factors affect the cost of running both heating systems.

Running Space Heaters

Typically, space heaters consume less electricity than central heating systems. However, you only save money with space heaters if you only use one of them.

The most noteworthy feature of space heaters is how their systems work.

These appliances can reduce costs by limiting energy consumption. Most space heaters require about 750 to 1,500 watts to run, some even less (depending on the setting). This electricity usage is far lower than what central heating requires.

Once they get to a set temperature, they can usually maintain the same temperature for as long as the user wants, thereby saving electricity. However, you’ll only be saving electricity if you only use one space heater at a time.

Why You Should Opt for Space Heaters

If you live in a house with many rooms but don’t move around much – for example, you sit at your desk working with your computer for most of the day or on your couch watching TV – then you could use a space heater for that room.

One of the reasons why many people choose to use space heaters is because they are pretty affordable. You can purchase a space heater from $30 to $300, depending on factors such as type, capacity, and energy efficiency.

Furthermore, these appliances are easy to maintain and cheap to fix. When you think about the potential savings, space heaters are worth considering.

Still, before you make that purchase, be sure to read some safety tips about space heaters.

Drawbacks of Space Heaters

Unfortunately, space heaters are less effective than central heating systems when heating homes with multiple rooms. To heat your home correctly, you must place one space heating in each room, leading to higher electricity costs.

Ultimately, space heaters are only efficient when you need to heat one room. Also, space heaters pose a fire risk, so using them in multiple rooms is not safe.

Running a Central Heating System

It is cheaper to run a central heating system if you need to heat multiple rooms or the whole house. The average home heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system runs on between 3,000 and 3,500 watts.

While this is more than twice the electricity needed to run a space heater, this heating system can work for the entire house, which is something a space heater cannot do. Central heating systems are a more permanent solution. These systems are installed directly in the walls of your home.

So, if you need a constant heat supply, you should consider installing this system.

Why a Central Heating System Is Better

In terms of saving costs, using central heating is better if you have multiple rooms to heat. That is because you only need one central heating system in your home, but you need several space heaters in one house, thus, using more electricity.

Furthermore, central heating systems are safer than space heaters. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), over 25,000 fires and 300 deaths yearly are caused by space heaters.

Drawbacks of Using a Central Heating System

A central heating system is optimal if you need to heat an entire house. However, having a central heating system installed can be a bit pricey.

Installing a central system costs about $6,000 to $8,000. Remember that this price only applies if your home already has good ductwork.

A home without a duct or with a duct requiring filling will incur additional costs between $2,500 to $10,000. The price depends on the extent of work needed.

That said, they serve as an efficient heating system for a home with lots of rooms or places with large spaces. Hence, this heating system is more cost-effective in the long run.

Other Factors That Affect Efficiency

Space heaters and central heating systems do not have a constant rate at which they use power. Their efficiency varies based on some factors. Here are those factors.

Frequency of Use

Besides considering the number of rooms you need to heat, you also need to consider how often you will use your heating unit.

If you need to heat your home during limited periods, for example, a few days a month, you might save more using a space heater. However, a central heating system is better if you need regular heating.


People who live in colder areas need more heat to stay warm. Hence, they have to increase the temperature of their heating systems. This increase in temperature means that the heating is working more and, therefore, using more power.

So, if you live in colder regions, it is best to use central heating because it can heat your home more efficiently. Space heating is optimal for warmer areas or rooms that do not require that much heat.

Final Words

The efficiency difference between space heaters and central heating systems depends on the area you plan to heat. In cases when you only need to heat a small room for a short period, you can save energy and money by using a space heater.

On the other hand, a central heating system is a better option if you need a long-term or permanent solution. A central heating system costs more to purchase and install, but ultimately, it is a wise investment.

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