The best energy efficient portable electric heaters

Written by caroline thompson
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The best energy efficient portable electric heaters
A space heater. (warming hands image by Brett Mulcahy from

Using space heaters is an energy efficient alternative to heat a specific area or room. Electric heaters can warm an entire room. They are light, portable and energy efficient. The type of space heater depends on the size of room to be heated, the presence of children in a home (choose a heater that will not catch fire if tipped over), concerns about energy efficiency and extra features, like timers and auto shut off switches.

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Skirting heaters

Skirting heaters are primarily used in bedrooms near windows with drafts. These make energy efficient use of window drafts to push heated air into a room. The heated air floats up to combine with the cool draft, pushing it into the room. Skirting heaters heat the air directly above them and are dangerous if tipped over. Most have auto shut off switches that shut the heater off if it is tipped over. Never place a skirting heater near flammable objects or draperies.

Convection heaters

Convection heaters use heated coils with fans to blow hot air into a room. They have thermostats to keep the air at a particular temperature and bring a room to a certain temperature rapidly. Convection heaters should not be left unattended or used around children. If they are knocked over or left near flammable objects, the red-hot coils will ignite any flammable objects rapidly. These heaters are only efficient for rooms that are rarely used. They do not heat the entire room, just the occupant of the room.

Oil-filled heaters

Oil-filled heaters have sealed reservoirs filled with special oil. The oil is heated and flows through radiator coils that warm the air. They look like steam radiators and will stay warm long after the oil has cooled. These take a longer time to heat a room, but they are a safer option around kids and less of fire hazard because they are sealed. These can be left on all night. They come with thermostats that regulate the temperature.

Ceramic heaters

As the name would imply, ceramic heaters use a ceramic disk element that heats a room with radiant heat. These have a low fire risk and are good for small rooms. They are slow to heat up and are not as easily temperature controlled as other heaters. They are small, but produce a large amount of heat.

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