The Best Energy-Efficient Space Heaters Tested in 2023

Today's energy-efficient space heaters warm individual rooms, so users needn’t heat unoccupied areas of the house. We tested the most popular space heaters on the market—find out which ones performed the best.

By Bob Beacham and Glenda Taylor | Updated Nov 15, 2023 12:40 PM

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A group of the best energy-efficient space heaters together with some on a table and some on the floor.

Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Space heaters offer a convenient and cost-effective way to improve home and office comfort. Personal and large versions increase the warmth in living spaces or offer temporary heat in a garage or a workshop.

Since space heaters are not rated by Energy Star, shopping for the best model can be challenging. We tested the top brands and models to see how much heat they produced and whether they offered energy-saving features, such as built-in thermostats and timers.

Keep reading to find out how the following products earned a spot in our top picks list for the best energy-efficient space heater and discover the pros and cons of each one.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968 Portable Space Heater
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Lasko Electric Oscillating Ceramic Tower Space Heater
  3. MOST VERSATILE: Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX Infrared Space Heater
  4. BEST OIL-FILLED: NewAir Portable Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater
  5. BEST MICATHERMIC: De’Longhi HMP1500-6A Mica Panel Heater 
  6. BEST WI-FI: Atomi Smart Wi-Fi Ceramic Space Heater 
  7. BEST AMBIENCE: Maxhonor Electric Fireplace Heater With Remote 
  8. BEST FOR BATHROOMS: Lasko Ceramic Bathroom Space Heater With Safety Plug
  9. BEST SMART HEATER: Govee Smart Space Heater
  10. BEST FOR BASEMENTS: De’Longhi SlimStyle Digital Convection Panel Heater
An energy-efficient space heater on a carpeted floor in front of a couch.

Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

How We Tested the Best Energy-Efficient Space Heaters

We extensively researched more than 35 different space heaters before selecting the models for our hands-on testing. Brand reputation was considered to an extent—manufacturers like Lasko and De’Longhi are known for producing high-quality products. Yet we didn’t automatically eliminate space heaters made by smaller or niche companies, especially if they offered features like timers, programming, automatic thermostat controls, and smart capabilities that could help home users regulate electrical use to save money.

We scored each space heater using a rubric; the better the heater performed on a specific test, the higher the score it received. We followed the manufacturer’s instructions for testing the heaters, noting the maximum watts of each heater and using that to select the room size for testing. We used the formula of 10 watts of power for every square foot of floor space. For example, we tested 1,500-watt electric space heatersin a room as close to 150 square feet as possible. We noted how long it took for the temperature to increase by 5 degrees Fahrenheit in the room.

In addition to producing heat, we also rated each model on ease of operation, noise level, thermostat accuracy (as compared to an indoor thermometer), portability, and safety features. If the heater featured smart capabilities, we synced it with our Wi-Fi or smart device and noted how well the app worked for controlling or monitoring the heater.

However, keep in mind that a space heater will be more or less efficient in different situations, so our results may not be identical to those of other users. Things like high or vaulted ceilings, many windows, inadequate wall insulation, and outdoor temperature affect how quickly a space heater will warm a room.

Our Top Picks

In one of the coziest tests we’ve ever conducted, the following lineup of electric space heaterscame out on top. Each offers a variety of benefits, ranging from quick heating, a cool-touch exterior, remote control, and/or the safe heating of moisture-prone rooms such as bathrooms. Find out what we liked (and didn’t like) about each model before choosing one for your home.

Best Overall

The Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968 Portable Space Heater on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Right out of the box, we were sold on the attractiveness of the Dr. Infrared Heater. It comes in a solid-wood case that looks right at home in a living room, great room, or bedroom. We tested the Dr. Infrared in a 13-foot-long by 12-foot-wide room (156 square feet) because it’s a 1,500-watt heater.

Straight away we noticed how quiet the heater runs—it emitted just a slight hum during operation. We set the thermostat 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the existing temperature, turned the space heater on high, and closed the door to see how long it would take to warm the room. Within 15 minutes, we could feel a temperature difference; at 33 minutes, the room’s temperature had increased by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next, we examined the space heater’s other features. We tested the timer function and checked how much heat the unit put out on low and eco modes. We were able to operate the heater from the unit itself and also from the included remote.

We also tested the standby mode, which lets the user know that the heater is plugged in and ready to go, yet the heat is turned off. This feature failed to impress us: A light remains on, but the heater is off while in standby mode, so it just seemed redundant. We did like the timer function that let us turn the unit on and select a running time up to 12 hours. The timer worked well and shut the heater off at the preset time.

Our favorite function on the Dr. Infrared was the thermostat control. We could select the desired temperature, and the heater would go on and off as needed to keep the room at that consistent temperature. Last but not least, we tipped the heater over, and it immediately shut off—a safety feature many electric space heatersinclude to prevent accidental fires.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Infrared
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded electric

Pros

  • Features 3 heating modes (high, low, and eco) to suit individual needs
  • Digital numbers are large and easy to see—even from across the room
  • Warms up the room quickly and then turns on and off to maintain the temperature
  • Caster wheels roll smoothly; the hardwood case is attractive

Cons

  • Standby mode doesn’t offer any particular benefits beyond the function of the power switch

Get the Dr. Infrared energy-efficient space heater at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Lasko Electric Oscillating Ceramic Tower Space Heater on a white background.
Photo: homedepot.com

There’s no need to spend a lot on a space heater. The 1,500-watt Lasko ceramic tower space heater combines oscillating action with a blower for the effective heating of moderately sized rooms. As with many of today’s electric heaters of this kind, we found the exterior stayed cool to the touch while the heater was running. Plus, there’s tip-over protection to reduce the risk of fires.

This model features 1,500 watts of heat-producing power on high, so we tested it in our 156-square-foot room. Rather than an LED thermostat, the Lasko heater registers the temperature in the room in 5-degree Fahrenheit increments, from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. We used our indoor thermometer to measure the current temperature in the room and then turned the Lasko on high to see how long it would take to raise the temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit. According to our indoor thermometer, it took 23 minutes for the Lasko to heat the room by the full 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

This tower model doesn’t boast many bells and whistles, but it does offer a 1-, 2-, and 4-hour timer, and we found the oscillating mode very nice for evenly distributing the heat around the room.There’s also a handle for portability. We would have appreciated a remote control, but this basic heater works well at a very competitive price, so we can definitely recommend it for shoppers on a budget.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Ceramic
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded electric

Pros

  • Push-button space heater is simple and straightforward to use
  • Oscillating capability allows it to heat the room more evenly
  • Turns off immediately when tipped over to prevent fires
  • Lightweight construction and a built-in handle make it easy to move from room to room

Cons

  • No remote control included

Get the Lasko Tower energy-efficient space heater at Amazon.

Most Versatile

The Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX Infrared Space Heater on a white background next to a phone showing the Heat Storm app.
Photo: amazon.com

Flexibility is a great feature in a space heater, and the Heat Storm infrared space heater has it since it can be mounted on a wall or sat on a surface. This unit has 1,500 watts of heating power, so we tested it in the same 156-square-foot room. Since it boasts smart capabilities, we downloaded the Smart Life app and synched the heater with our Wi-Fi and smartphone. From there, we could see the room’s existing temperature and turn the space heater on.

It took just 18 minutes for the Heat Storm to increase the temperature in the room by 5 degrees Fahrenheit. We found it to be pretty quiet, emitting a soft hum from its fan, but it wasn’t an annoying noise.

This model can be hung on a wall or safely placed on a table or floor with a pair of plastic feet that can be attached to the bottom. We found the plastic feet simple to connect, and they kept the heater level and stable. The unit also has tip-over protection for safety.

Unfortunately, we weren’t big fans of the mounting setup. The mounting holes on the backside are 13.75 inches apart, which is too short a distance to mount to wall studs that are typically 16 inches apart. Only one screw can be inserted in a stud, while the other must be inserted in drywall with an anchor bolt. The Heat Storm only weighs 9 pounds, so it’s probably OK to mount it to drywall, but we would have preferred to mount it to two studs for extra stability.

In addition to being Wi-Fi capable, the Heat Storm comes with a remote, and a timer is accessible from the app or the remote. The app also allowed us to set a programming schedule for the heater. We appreciated being able to adjust the temperature from a touch screen on the front of the heater, and overall, we enjoyed the versatility of the unit.

Product Specs

  • Type: Infrared
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded, electric

Pros

  • Wi-Fi capable; syncs with a home network
  • Can be operated via an app on a smart device
  • Either use wall-mounted or on a floor or table
  • Comes with a remote control for easy operation

Cons

  • Spacing of wall-mounting holes is too narrow to attach to adjacent wall studs

Get the Heat Storm energy-efficient space heater at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.

Best Oil-Filled

The NewAir Portable Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

The nice thing about oil-filled space heaters is that once they heat up, they can radiate warmth for hours—similar to the way old-school radiators work. This NewAir model, which features oil-filled channels and has no fan, proved itself quite capable in testing and was completely silent to boot. While it weighs more than 17 pounds, it comes with easy-roll caster wheels, so we had no trouble moving it from one room to another.

We tested it in our 156-square-foot room because it’s rated at 1,500 watts, but it took nearly 40 minutes (on high) to raise the room’s temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit. We felt that was due to the heater being completely radiant (no fan to disperse the hot air). But once it warmed up, it continued to radiate gentle heat continuously.

There are five temperature settings in addition to five timer settings, ranging from 2 hours to 10 hours. It can be controlled from the panel on the front or from the remote. The heater shut off when we tipped it over, but it still took about 15 minutes to cool down enough to touch it safely—and that is its only real downside. The NewAir gets quite hot to the touch—it’s a radiator, after all—so it’s not suitable for use around small children.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Oil-filled
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded, electric

Pros

  • Radiant heat doesn’t dry the air; boon in winter when dry heat can cause discomfort
  • Oil-filled space heater has no fan, so it’s completely silent during operation
  • Smooth caster wheels make it easy to roll the heater from room to room

Cons

  • Took 40 minutes during testing for the heater to raise the room temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Gets very hot to the touch, making it unsuitable for use around small children

Get the NewAir energy-efficient space heater at The Home Depot or NewAir.

Best Micathermic

The De’Longhi HMP1500-6A Mica Panel Heater on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Micathermic heaters use a combination of convection and infrared heating to bring warmth to the room. During testing, this 1,500-watt De’Longhi model, set on high, raised the temperature in our 156-square-foot room by 5 full degrees Fahrenheit in 18 minutes. It has a narrow panel design that produces radiant heat from the front of the heater while the sides and back remain cool. This compact, slim design is also space saving, and the unit was pretty quiet while running.

The included caster wheels were easy to attach via hand-twisted knobs on the bottom (no tools necessary). This heater can also be mounted on a wall but will require drywall anchors, which are not included. By simply twisting the control dials on the side of the heater, we could adjust the heat level and fan speed. It turned off immediately when we tipped it over. Our only concern is that the front panel does become hot to the touch, so we would not recommend it for families with small children unless it’s mounted out of reach on a wall.

Product Specs

  • Type: Micathermic
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded, electric

Pros

  • 2 side dials turn to adjust both heat output and fan
  • Shuts off immediately when tipped over—an important safety feature
  • Either attach the caster wheels for easy rolling or mount the unit to a wall

Cons

  • Front panel becomes hot to the touch, making it unsuitable for rooms with small children

Get the De’Longhi energy-efficient space heater at De’Longhi.

Best Wi-Fi

The Atomi Smart Wi-Fi Ceramic Space Heater on a white background next to a phone showing the Atomi app.
Photo: amazon.com

The 1,500-watt Atomi tower space heater is ideal for folks who prefer to control the warmth in a room via an app. This efficient electric space heater has three power settings, a thermostat, a timer, and standard safety features. In testing, it heated our 156-square-foot test room quickly, raising the temperature 5 degrees Fahrenheit in just 17 minutes.

We liked the convenience of operating the unit from its touch panel or from our smartphone via the Atomi app. We downloaded the app, and it walked us through the setup process. Users must have a Wi-Fi home network to control the heater with the app.

We could adjust the desired temperature in 1 degree Fahrenheit increments or select high, medium, or eco settings. There’s also a countdown timer with 1-hour increments, and we were able to set daily and weekly schedules for turning the heater on and off. The only downside to the Atomi is that lengthy schedules can’t be programmed from the touch screen—that must be done from the app.

This is a safer space heater than some because the outer case remains cool to the touch. The Atomi shut off immediately when we tipped it over and sent an alert to our smartphone. In addition, we could use the app to sync the Atomi heater with our Alexa system and then use voice controls, such as “Alexa, turn off the heater.”Though operation isn’t completely silent, we found the sound of the fan to be minimal.

Product Specs

  • Type: Ceramic
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded electric

Pros

  • Multiple heat settings; ability to program heating schedules via Atomi app
  • Voice control is possible with Alexa or Google Home smart-home systems
  • Produces ample heat and oscillates to distribute warmth uniformly

Cons

  • On the pricey side compared to other tower heaters
  • Scheduling programs is only possible from the app and not the touch screen

Get the Atomi Smart energy-efficient space heater at Amazon.

Best Ambience

The Maxhonor Electric Fireplace Heater With Remote on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Most space heaters don’t do much for ambience, but the Maxhonor electric fireplace lights things up with delightful faux flames, so we enjoyed both the ambience of the heater and its cozy warmth. While it’s a 1,500-watt heater, it took almost 30 minutes on high to raise the temperature in our 156-square-foot test room by 5 full degrees Fahrenheit. We assumed some of the wattage was being used to create the dancing flames, which are the focal point of this unit. We tested a 30-inch model, but wider models—up to 60 inches—are available.

We could control the heater from a touch panel along the bottom edge, but using the included remote control was simpler. We had the option of several flame colors, including blues and greens, but we preferred the red/orange hues that look most like a real fire.

This fireplace heater has an important caveat: It’s designed to be surface mounted on a wall, set on the floor, or recessed in the wall itself. However, if users purchase this heater to recess in a wall, they will want to be aware that it must still be plugged into an outlet. This means the user will need to have an outlet installed in the stud space (requiring an electrician) or drill a hole in the wall for the 6-foot cord to exit and plug in. Extension cords should not be used with space heaters due to increased fire risk.

The glass screen remains cool to the touch, and heat exits through a panel near the top, making this space heater suitable for a home with small children—as long as the upper heat vent is above their reach. It also features a sleep timer.

Product Specs

  • Type: Ceramic
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded, electric

Pros

  • Fireplace-type heater produces both warming heat plus attractive flames
  • Glass panel and touch screen remain cool while heater is running
  • Flames and heat can be controlled via the touch screen or included remote

Cons

  • If recessed in a wall, the 6-foot cord will still need access to an electrical outlet
  • Heats the space more slowly than some of the others tested

Get the Maxhonor energy-efficient space heater at Amazon, Walmart (50-inch model), or Fire In Style.

Best for Bathrooms

The Lasko Ceramic Bathroom Space Heater With Safety Plug on a white background.
Photo: homedepot.com

Water and electricity don’t mix, so most space heaters are a poor choice for adding warmth to rooms with high humidity or occasional water droplets. We found the Lasko ceramic space heater to be a safer choice, thanks to its appliance leakage current interrupter (ALCI) safety plug. The plug contains an internal breaker that switches the electrical current off if it detects an imbalance in the electrical current to keep the user from receiving a painful shock.

The Lasko has 1,500 watts of power, so we tested it in our 156-square-foot room. It took 20 minutes for the little heater to increase the room temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a large button on the top that requires only a gentle push to turn the heater on. We could scroll through high, low, fan only, and a 1-hour timer by pushing the button again.

Next, we ran an additional test in the garage (we didn’t want to risk damaging an indoor outlet if the safety plug failed). We plugged the Lasko in and pushed the red button on the plug to set it; then we turned the heater on. While it was running, we sprayed the heater with water from a spray bottle. At first, nothing happened, so we sprayed the heater until it was saturated and dripping with water. Finally, the water must have gotten inside the unit because the little heater made a sizzling noise and the ALCI plug tripped, shutting off the current. We were impressed.

After the Lasko dried out (we gave it 3 days), we plugged it back in and reset the plug—and it worked just as well as before. The safety plug makes it well suited for bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, or other areas where moisture can be an issue. Oddly, it doesn’t have automatic tip-over protection. It won’t shut off if accidentally knocked over, so it should be in a secure spot.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Ceramic
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded, electric

Pros

  • Bathroom-friendly space heater; safety plug trips to prevent shocks
  • Large push button on the top of the heater allows users to select from heat output
  • Although small, this space heater features a full 1,500 watts of heating power

Cons

  • Lack of tip-over protectionis a safety concern
  • No remote controlis included; hands-on operation is required

Get the Lasko bathroom energy-efficient space heater at The Home Depot or Lasko.

Best Smart Heater

The Govee Smart Space Heater on a white background next to a phone showing the Govee app.
Photo: amazon.com

The Govee Smart space heater is certainly worth a look for anyone who wants to control their space heater with their phone. This heater can be controlled with a downloadable app that allows the user to turn it on and off, set the output level, activate oscillation, and set timers. It’s also compatible with a Govee hygrometer so users can ensure their space is ultra comfortable (hygrometer is not included). The app works with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control convenience.

This model features a 1,500-watt output with low, medium, and high settings. It also has an overheat switch that shuts it down if it gets too hot as well as a tip-over switch for safety. It’s compact enough to fit on a dresser or nightstand, and it’s very light at just 7.7 pounds.

Overall, we really liked the Govee space heater. It’s small but powerful enough to keep a bedroom warm without running the entire home’s heating system. It was able to raise a standard bedroom 5 degrees Fahrenheit in around 20 minutes during our hands-on test. We also liked that it was quiet, though we found it ran closer to 55 decibels than Govee’s reported 45.

Our only real complaint is that it doesn’t have a digital thermostat that the user can program, so maintaining a consistent temperature might be a challenge for this heater. One thing we did notice was that it was actually quite difficult to knock over for a tower heater, which people with pets and children might appreciate.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Ceramic
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded, electric

Pros

  • Smart functionality ties in with the Govee app for remote control as well as pairing with a hygrometer
  • Runs quietly; roughly 55 decibels while on the highest setting
  • Difficult to knock over compared to other tower heaters

Cons

  • No digital gauge for setting the temperature in the space

Get the Govee energy-efficient space heater at Amazon or Govee.

Best for Basements

The De’Longhi SlimStyle Digital Convection Panel Heater on a white background.
Photo: amazon.com

Since basements are typically full of plumbing systems, it would make sense that residents want to protect their basements from freezing temperatures. And while it’s a completely capable space heater in every regard, the De’Longhi SlimStyle digital convection panel heater is ideal for protecting these spaces. This model features several modes, one of which is designed to kick on when the space around it drops to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This antifreeze mode allows it to stay dormant and use very little energy until the temperatures plummet—something most other space heaters can’t do since their lowest setting is usually around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The De’Longhi runs nearly silently through three out of its four standard run modes. The fourth mode activates two fans, which blow heat throughout the space and encourage the convection process. It can be floor- or wall-mounted (it comes with the hardware for both), and it features tip-over and overheat protection for safety. Users can also set the De’Longhi to eco mode or set timers to prevent unnecessary energy consumption.

Since most space heaters can’t be set to temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, using them to keep pipes from freezing is an energy pit. We liked that the De’Longhi could handle this job without drawing much power at all, keeping the utility bill as modest as possible. It’s important to note that our antifreeze mode turns the heater on at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, not 41 degrees Fahrenheit like the manufacturer’s site suggests. We liked the digital display, which was easy to use to set the heater, but we don’t like that it doesn’t come with a remote.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Convection
  • Watts: 1,500
  • Power source: Corded, electric

Pros

  • Features an energy-saving antifreeze mode that only kicks on when temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Can mount to the floor or stand on 2 legs and comes with the hardware for both
  • Runs nearly silently in 3 out of the 4 standard run modes

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a remote despite having a digital display

Get the De’Longhi energy-efficient space heater at Amazon or De’Longhi.


ALSO TESTED: 

The Dr. Infrared’s DR-908 HeatStyle 2-Way Heater didn’t make the cut. It wasn’t all bad, as it was quiet and relatively easy to use. However, it’s far from the cheapest option on the list and ours came with a misaligned shroud and poor fit and finish. It also doesn’t come with a template for attaching to a wall, so we expect inexperienced DIYers to struggle installing it. All these things considered, it simply didn’t pass our tests.

Jump to Our Top Picks



What to Consider When Choosing an Energy-Efficient Space Heater

While kerosene and propane space heaters do exist, challenges with fumes and dangerous fuels mean the majority of space heaters used in the home are electric. Even narrowing the choices to electric-powered heaters still leaves a vast range of space heaters to choose from. It’s essential to look at several key elements.

Type

Before looking at the different types of space heaters, it’s worth thinking about how heat is produced. While there are radiant heatersand micathermic heaters, most space heaters use convection (a fan blowing over a heating element) to heat the air.

  • Oil-filled radiators are perhaps the oldest kind of electric space heater. Generally designed for medium to large rooms, they are quite bulky and usually have wheels to aid mobility. They provide some radiant heat while mainly heating the air.
  • Ceramic heaters are probably the most popular type, and there is an enormous variety. Usually either box- or tower-shaped models, they are light enough to be moved around easily and powerful enough for larger-than-average-size rooms. Forced-air (sometimes called bladeless) versions of ceramic heaters can help spread warmth around a room more quickly and evenly.
  • Infrared space heaterswork much faster than convection heaters and don’t waste energy heating an unattended room. Considered a type of radiant heater,they work in a direct path, or “line of sight,” so they’re only at maximum efficiency when there’s nothing between people and the heater.
  • Micathermic space heaters, available as panel heaters and similar in design to oil-filled models, contain a stone (mica) heating element that produces electromagnetic waves when heated. In effect, they produce both convection and radiant heat. While highly efficient, the design choice is currently somewhat limited. Many resemble a large metal panel.

Room Size and Heating Capacity

Space heaters come in various sizes and power options, so there’s something for most every situation. Heat output is measured in watts, and general guidance is that 10 watts per square foot is needed to maintain a comfortable warmth. Therefore, a 100-square-foot room would require a 1,000-watt space heater.

Desktop models are around 200 to 400 watts, which can be very good for direct heat for modest personal spaces like a home office or basement. The most common heat output in space heaters is 1,500 watts, sufficient for a 15-foot-long by 10-foot-wide room. Heaters of 2,000 watts and upward are available, but large electric models may need to be hardwired.

Energy Efficiency

Space heaters aren’t usually a replacement for central heating, but they can offer excellent efficiency and big savings if they are only needed to heat a room or two. This can often be the case as the seasons change and some parts of the house are cooler than others.

Additional energy efficiency comes by way of features on the space heaters themselves. Thermostats and adjustable heat settings allow increased control, so energy isn’t wasted. Sleep or auto-off timers can be set to turn the heater off after a preset period, though most do not provide an automatic “on” setting.

Smartphone apps allow access from anywhere. Control via Wi-Fi offers an increasingly large array of features, like remotely turning on the device so rooms can be warm when people return from school or work. There’s also the possibility of voice activation via smart-home systems like Alexa and Google Assistant. Allowing the user greater control provides the opportunity to maximize energy efficiency.

Safety Features

Some space heaters become warm to the touch, so care needs to be taken if there are children and animals around. Fabrics and soft furnishings also need to be spaced away from the heater. It may be worth looking for cool-touch housings as an additional way to prevent accidents.

Overheat protection will turn off a space heater if it heats up internally to protect it from damage. Most space heaters also have tilt- or tip-overprotection so the unit will turn itself off if it falls or is knocked over.

Propane and kerosene space heaters give off toxic carbon monoxide gas, which can collect in unventilated rooms and may present a serious health hazard. Some models for indoor use have a sensor that checks oxygen levels and turns the heater off if the oxygen decreases to hazardous levels.

Noise Level

Few of the best energy-efficient electric space heaters could be described as particularly loud, though the noise levels vary. The culprit is almost always the fan. However, oil-filled and micathermic models often have no fan, nor do some infrared models. While they might make a little noise when first heating up, they are quiet during regular operation.

Ceramic space heaters generally have some kind of blower, and forced-air models make a feature of it. This can cause them to be noisier on high settings. Few manufacturers provide decibel ratings. While most models are not intrusive, the heaters with louder powerful blowers may not be best for bedroom use.

Tips for Using an Energy-Efficient Space Heater

Regardless of the type of space heater chosen, optimal energy efficiency will always come from ensuring it’s the right size for the area. If it is moved from room to room, then the largest room size should be used, or it will struggle to provide sufficient warmth.

On the other hand, there is no point in oversizing. Achieving the most heat value for the cost to run it will come from being as accurate as possible. If there are two very different-size rooms, consider buying two heaters.

  • Read the manual carefully to thoroughly understand all the features available and how to maximize the efficiency of the space heater.
  • Space heaters are best used in individual rooms, so keep doors closed as much as possible to prevent heat from escaping.
  • Even if the unit’s exterior is relatively cool, keep a minimum safe space of 3 feet between the space heater and any fabric or furniture. Check the owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer recommends a larger gap.
  • If it is intended for bedroom use, check whether it is safe to leave the heater on during the night and if it has an auto shutoff.
  • Never run power cords under carpets where damage can occur that might go unnoticed.
  • Opt for space heaters with overheat protectionif they will be running at night.

FAQs

The sections above tackled the technical aspects of energy-efficient space heaters, and our hands-on testing revealed some of the best space heaters available. However, this is a complex subject, and several additional questions crop up frequently. Answers to some of these common questions are below.

Q. How can I tell if a space heater is energy efficient?

Unfortunately, there are no recognized standards. An Underwriters Laboratories or Electrical Testing Laboratories listing is sometimes quoted, but this ensures the space heater meets current safety standards rather than certifying efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy website says it’s essential to choose the right-size heater for the room (don’t oversize) and recommends space heaters with a thermostat, so the room isn’t overheated.

Q. What type of space heater is most energy efficient?

It’s a difficult question to answer because numerous factors have an impact. Strictly speaking, infrared is probably the most efficient, but not necessarily the right choice. It’s important to consider all the factors above to find the best space heater for energy efficiency.

Q. How much does it cost to run a 1,500-watt heater for 24 hours?

Utility company charges, room size, and insulation level all impact cost, but 1,500-watt energy-efficient space heaters typically cost around $7 to $9 to operate for 24 hours.

Q. What is more energy efficient: a space heater or central heat?

Central heatingis more efficient if the desire is to keep the whole house at a constant temperature for weeks at a time. Space heaters are more efficient in three ways:

  • Heating personal spaces
  • Heating rooms were added after the original central heatingwas installed
  • Boosting the heat in one or more areas when you don’t want to turn the heat up in the entire house

Q. What type of space heater uses the least electricity?

Electricity consumption is calculated in kilowatts per hour. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts. In general, consumption relates directly to the device’s wattage, so you’ll save money if you can turn it down. The space heaters that use the least electricity come with lower heat settings—200- to 400-watt personal heaters—but they provide insufficient warmth for typical family rooms.

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Meet the Testers

Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.

Tom Scalisi is a full-time DIY and construction writer for many of the largest websites in the industry, including BobVila.com, This Old House, Family Handyman, and Forbes.

Additional research provided by Bob Beacham.