By Kara Reinhardt
Editor's note: This post was updated following initial publication to correct the Honeywell model. The correct Honeywell model is below.
If chilly fall weather has you reaching for the thermostat, remember that turning up the heat even one degree can increase your energy costs. Instead, stay toasty with an electric space heater that can warm you up for less than $35.
Space heaters are an efficient, money-saving alternative or complement to central heating. A heater with a carrying handle is easy to move from room to room to provide warmth only where and when you need it. Space heaters with adjustable thermostats cycle on and off to maintain a set temperature rather than wasting energy by continuing to put out heat after an area has warmed up.
Low-cost electric heaters function differently depending on how they deliver heat. Convection heaters are designed to raise the temperature in an entire room, while radiant heaters act like a stove or fireplace, warming up whatever is sitting in front of them. In a convection heater, a fan blows out air warmed by a heating element, such as an electric coil or an electrically-heated ceramic plate. The ceramic models tend to be cooler to the touch, safer, and more efficient. Radiant heaters generate warmth using quartz tubing, a quieter method than a purring fan, and use less energy than convection heaters.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (PDF) estimated that electric space heaters contributed to more than 1,000 fires per year during a three-year period, so be sure that any space heater you choose comes with some safety features. Most heaters automatically shut off when the heating element gets too hot. Another thing to look for is a tilt switch, which turns off the unit if it tips over.
Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable space heaters.
- The Lasko 754200 (starting at $23) is a powerful ceramic space heater with a carrying handle, an adjustable thermostat, and three settings, including a fan-only setting that makes it useful in warm weather, as well. Reviews say it heats up small and mid-size rooms without the noise and burning smell some cheap heaters emit. (Where to buy)
- The Optimus H-5210 (starting at $29) is a radiant heater with quartz tubing that’s designed to warm up people sitting or standing next to it. That said, consumers posting reviews have found it capable of heating up an entire room or even an entire small house, with the help of a strategically placed confederate. Safety features include automatic shutoff, a tilt switch, and cool housing to prevent burns. (Where to buy)
- The DeLonghi DCH1030 (starting at $25) is an ideal size for tucking under a desk or beside a bed. This little ceramic heater weighs only 3.2 pounds, making it easy to move around. It boasts an adjustable thermostat; three settings, including fan-only; and an anti-freeze function that automatically switches on the heater if the temperature dips below 44 degrees. (Where to buy)
- The Honeywell HZ-2200 (starting at $34) and its updated HZ-0360 version (starting at $30), feature a 360-degree design and impress users with their ability to heat up quickly. They both come with an adjustable thermostat, two heat settings and a fan-only setting, a tilt switch, and automatic shutoff. (Where to buy)
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