With a lot of companies vying for our heating dollars it makes sense to shop around for the most economical heating sources which you can afford. I find that a multi-faceted approach is the best way to balance the heating costs in my home here in Northeast Ohio.
One of the first things a homeowner needs to learn before purchasing any new heater is to research exactly how much each potential heating source may cost per heating season to use. Most newer devices will have an energy use rating right on the packaging. Study this information closely and ask the salesperson for help if the data is not crystal clear. We have a fuel oil fired furnace plus a wood burning stove, and as a localizing or zone space heating option we use modern electric space heaters which are all thermostatically controlled. This is very important since they can keep you comfortable while automatically responding to the rise and fall of temperature in your home.
We also have a digital electronically programmed automatic setback thermostat controlling the oil furnace, and the electric space heaters will go on and off or up and down as desired. So with the thermostat cutting down the furnace at night, using an electric heater in the bedroom keeps that area at the best temperature for sleeping while the rest of the home drops down to a much cooler level which saves quite a bit on fuel costs. About half an hour before the alarm goes off in the morning the oil furnace is warming up the house up so when we get up to shower the rooms are warm already. Right about the time we head off to work the house is cooling down again and then it heats back up before we come home from work. This is the most economical system as it is anticipating our schedule based on the programming that I set up in it’s memory.
This type of electronic thermostat can cost less than $30 and will save that much fuel oil in the first month you use it. I feel that the best type thermostat for the cost is the 5+2 version which allows you to set a different program for weekdays than the program for weekends. Really advanced units will let you program a different set of start and stop times for every single day, but these are a bit more costly, and most folks will never use these advanced features.
Now the style of space heater you use is not really important except to say that they must be modern style and must be safe! The ideal systems will have a thermostatically controlled heating method, and will be just big enough to warm the general area you are going to be in. We have one that is on wheels and can be rotated between the two main rooms which need heat while we are working on the computer, and points the other way when we are in the entertainment area of the house.
Portable electric heating devices come with built in safety devices that can prevent a fire and these must never be defeated. If something is not working correctly then take it to someone who knows how to fix these kinds of machines. You should never extend the length of your power cord on any electric heater as these can overheat potentially causing an electrical fire. Make sure the circuit you are using is not overloaded and that there is only one auxiliary heater on each main outlet circuit. In other words balance the load so that the heaters are on separate electrical circuits. Test this by plugging in each heater and turning off the breaker that controls the outlet you are using. If both heaters go off then move one to another outlet and repeat until they are on separate lines.
I know from experience that older homes like ours can be wired in quite bizarre ways with some unexpected circuit connections, for example if I turn off the outlets in my living room there is one ceiling light that goes off in the laundry room. Newer homes should have more outlets and more trunk lines so this is less of a concern for many.
Never leave any auxiliary heating unit running when you are not at home to monitor it’s operation. We take a lot of technology for granted and there is always a chance that something will fail when you least expect it. Our troubles come when the power goes out, and many times it will cycle on and off many times before things are restored to normal, this can cause some heater controllers to fail. Most digitally controlled units will simply go off, but heaters with mechanical thermostats can be damaged when the power is dirty or when it flickers on and off rapidly.
Now for some cost estimates, in our town the fuel oil cost was $2.80 when we purchased the minimum amount this year, and out electricity runs about 6.2 cents per kilowatt hour. Every hour my furnace is on it uses three quarters of a gallon of fuel oil. If it runs for four hours a day then I have spent about $8 that day to heat my entire house. On the other hand a 1500 watt space heater will cost me $2.25 a day to operate. Cutting back the oil furnace and using local area heaters I can keep the furnace down to three or so hours per day when it is below freezing outside. Granted the heat output from the space heater could never heat the whole house, but as a zone heat source this balancing act makes great economic sense for us.
In summary, using electric zone heaters to supplement your main heating system can balance your energy budget and can also help keep you more comfortable during the long cold winter.
This is a foolproof wave to ward off unnecessary expenses on electricity and will come under the budget constraints for fuel as heating oil prices nj 2020 have skyrocketed in the past few years.