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How much electricity does a heater use?

Whether you’re warming up a room at the end of a cold day or just creating an aura of heat to sit in front of, heaters are useful. That said, how much power are they using, and are they worth the cost?

Most electrical space heaters that you find will use about 1,500 watts per hour, while central air conditioners installed in houses can use 10x that, reaching 15,000 watts per hour. For comparison, a desktop computer and monitor use about 400 watts per hour. The wattage is how much power the heater needs in order to function.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should all be using space heaters because they’re more power efficient than central air conditioners; quite the contrary. If an entire household needs to be heated, using a central air conditioner can actually be more efficient, as it will affect the temperature of the entire house. However, if only one room needs to be warmed, a space heater uses much less power while getting the job done.

How much power does your specific heater use? Thankfully, it’s not too complicated to find out what the power requirements are for your heater. The wattage should be listed somewhere on the heater itself, often on a sticker with other information like the model number. If you can’t find this, it will also be printed in the manual for the heater.

For example, the little heater that has warmed my toes through many winters lists its hourly wattage as 1,500, which is standard, on a little white sticker on its underside.

Now, how much does it cost you to use your heater? We’ll use my 1,500-watt space heater from above as an example, and we’ll assume a nice even 30 cents per kilowatt hour to make the calculations easier. Service providers charge for electricity in kilowatt hours, gauging how long you use a certain amount of power for. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts, so my heater uses 1.5 kilowatts per hour, or 1.5kWh.

Let’s say I use my space heater to make a room nice and toasty for four hours. Seeing as I’m using 1.5kWh and I’m getting charged $0.3 per kilowatt hour, I’m really getting charged 45 cents per hour. This means running my heater for four hours will cost me $1.80. If I were to run it all day, keeping it going for 24 hours, it would cost me $10.80 per day.

Using this system, you can get an estimate for how much your appliances are costing you as they hum away quietly, but that’s not all the information. Varying rates and conditions in power deals can mean you end up paying more than necessary. If you want to be certain you’re getting a fair deal for the electricity your household uses, use Compare and Connect’s comparison tool to see the best offers, discounts and plans from a variety of service providers.

Keith Brouder 19 Nov 2019