Sunday, November 18, 2012

Electric Space heaters and how to use them cost efficiently

Moving up to Northern Idaho this past year was very exciting. The beauty of this great state is beyond words. As winter has made its way to our cozy little home, I thought I might do us a favor by doing a little research on what would be the most economical way to keep warm and cozy through our long winter...

I am a firm believer in only heating the rooms you are using, heating or cooling unused rooms just seems a waste of hard earned money in my book.

We have a great wood burning insert in our living room and use that during the day and evenings. At night as we are ready to turn in we need another source to keep the chill off the long night, so I decided on a 1,500 watt thermostat space heater for our room. Liking to sleep at a cool 60 to 65 degrees It does a fantastic job. I also put one in our bathroom for morning showers, again great job!

In the morning upon rising our thermostat in the living-room reads anywhere between 50 and 55, we start our fire and in about 30 minutes or so we are sitting at about 60ish. With a well tended fire we can stay heated comfortably at 68 to 70, and when it's 20 to 30 outside that feels very warm and cozy.

After hearing a few horror stories about high electric bills using space heaters I thought I might want to see how things were going to ad up.

I am pleasantly surprised at what I found, like anything else proper use is key.

Below are a few charts and some valuable information on using heaters and a few other electric appliances. Hope this will help you as it has helped me. :)

Hope you all have a warm and cozy winter! SRN

Saving energy at home:
Electric space heaters
Beware of inflated claims and prices

Advertisements promise that certain models of electric space heaters will save 50 percent on heating costs. Many may wonder if this and other claims are true.
In fact, depending on how portable heaters are used, consumers actually can see their total energy costs go up. And promises of whole-house comfort from portable electric space heaters are exaggerated.
Let's look into the real capability of portable heaters and review how they should be used to obtain maximum payback.

A watt is a watt
Some dealers are selling what is basically a 1,500-watt electric space heater for $250, $300, $400, and even more. Packaged in furniture-like wooden boxes, or wood-looking plastic, what's inside is still a 1,500-watt heater—capable of putting out the same amount of heat at the same cost as a 1,500-watt milk house heater that costs $25.

The only feature of an electric heater that affects the amount of heat the unit can generate is wattage. No matter how elaborate the cabinet that holds it, electric heating is the same. And buyers need to understand how the electric heater works or risk succumbing to a pretty package.

If you're going to heat with electricity, a better investment is a heat pump or an off-peak electric system.
Both are far more economical to operate than electric space heaters.
Electricity is efficient
All electric heating is 100 percent efficient. That means the energy that goes into an electric heater will come out as heat. No energy is wasted.
The only electric heating that is more efficient are heat pumps (air-source or geothermal). Because they use electric energy to capture heat and move it rather than to make heat, they operate at higher efficiencies.
(Air-source heat pumps are 200 percent efficient at certain temperatures, and geothermal heat pumps operate at more than 300 percent efficiency.)
These options aside, whether it is a radiant, convection, or fan-forced electric heater—and whether it cost $25 or $500—it is going to operate at 100 percent efficiency.

The best heater also may be the least expensive to buy
Consumers looking for an electric space heater and tempted by advertising claims are advised to do some research. Consumer Reports published a review of space heaters in October 2007 that showed these higher-priced models disappointed—with one model providing “only fair temperature control and ease of use,” and another, equipped with an air purifier, providing “lackluster temperature control, cleaned the air poorly, and lacks an overheat-protection feature.” This same article shows superior performance and recommended safety features in a model that sells for about $60.

Know operating costs
So, how much will an electric space heater cost to operate? You can use the following formula to calculate how much it will cost to operate a 1,500-watt space heater (or any other electric equipment):
Watts x hours of use ÷ 1,000 x cost per kilowatt-hour = cost of operation
This means that if a 1,500-watt heater ran 24-hours at a rate of 7.57 cents a kilowatt-hour, the cost would be $2.73 a day (1,500 x 24 ÷ 1,000 x $0.0757). For a month that would amount to $81.76 added to the electric bill of the average customer.

Portable heaters are intended for spot heating
Spot, or zone, heating is what portable electric heaters were designed to do. If a portable heater is used in one area and the thermostat for the main heating system is lowered, energy savings are possible. However, if a portable heater is used in one room and the main heating system also is running, savings are not likely to be achieved.
Additionally, to achieve savings a portable heater must operate with a thermostat so it doesn't run continually. Heaters with multiple output settings let you choose the lowest setting that keeps a room comfortable. Temperature control is key to saving energy.

Select for safety
When buying and using an electric space heater, follow these safety guidelines.
  • Look for a product that carries an Underwriters Lab (UL) label.
  • Select one that automatically shuts off if tipped and that has protective casing over the heating element to avoid the potential for burns.
  • Avoid using an extension cord but, if one is needed, be sure it has at least 12-gauge wire.
  • Select the proper wattage so your portable electric space heater doesn't overload your electrical wiring and create a fire safety issue.
  • Select a model that has a thermostat so it doesn't run all the time.
  • Never allow an electric space heater to run when you are out of the house or asleep.
If you're going to heat with electricity and want to make a better long-term investment, other options, such as a heat pump system or an off-peak electric system, are far more economical to operate than electric space

Electric Oven 350 1 hour 2.0 kWh $.16
Electric Convection Oven 325 45 minutes 1.39 kWh $.11
Gas Oven 350 1 hour .112 therm $.07
Electric Frying Pan 420 1 hour .9 kWh $.07
Toaster Oven 425 50 minutes .95 kWh $.08
Electric Crockpot 200 7 hour .7 kWh $.06
Microwave Oven "High" 15 minutes .36 kWh $.03

How Much Does It Cost to Run My Appliances?

     Here's a table showing what it costs to run common household appliances. Costs are based on 17.2 cents per kilowatt-hour electric rate. To see my blog on electricity costs for appliances, click here. Let me know by entering a comment below if you'd like to see what it costs to operate other items.

Refrigerator: 16 Cubic Feet 
43 cts
Air Conditioner: 6500 Btu 
44 cts
Coffee Maker 1
1 ct
7 cts
31 cts
Slow Cooker: 8 hours
20 cts
Washing Machine: Agitation2
2 cts
14 cts
62 cts
Washing Machine: Front load HE2
1 ct
7 cts
32 cts
Gas Clothes Dryer: 40 min. load

25 cts
Electric Dryer: 40 min. load
57 cts
Vacuum Cleaner: 4 rooms9
7 cts

28 cts
Hair dryer: 6 min. a day
2 cts
14 cts
56 cts
Oil filled radiator: 8 hours
44 cts

60-Watt Light Bulb
22 cts
60-Watt Light Bulb3
19 cts
Fluorescent Bulb4
5 cts
High-Intensity Light
10 cts
72 cts
Christmas Lights

LED Mini-140 lights7
1 ct
7 cts
28 cts
Mini-150 per string8
7.6 cts
54 cts
Medium-25 per string8
14 cts
Window candles-each8
0.7 cts
4.6 cts
18 cts

25-Inch Tube TV5
28 cts
Home Theater/DVD
19 cts

Modem & router always on.
5 cts
40 cts
Laptop Workstation: MacBook, light and printer turned on.
27 cts
Laptop Workstation: MacBook turned off, charger plugged in.
2 cts
12 cts
Full Desktop Computer6
31 cts
2 One load per day. HE refers to front loading high efficiency
3 Different bulbs have different ratings.
4 Equivalent to 60-watt incandescent bulb.
5 Twenty-four hours a day of operation
6 iMac computer, printer, external hard drive,
   modem, router.
7 2 strings of 70 lights each for 8 hours.
8 Burning 8 hours a day.
9 Based on usage once a week.



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