The rising cost of heating with natural gas has homeowners looking for means to economize on heating bills. One popular method is to lower the thermostat on the central heating system and to supplement heat to individual rooms using a small space heater. The choices of space heater can be narrowed to two general types: those that heat the air and those that heat the surrounding objects.

How They Work

Electric space heaters of all types convert electrical energy into heat. Some, like ceramic heaters, do this by convection which heats the air and circulates it around the room. Others, like radiant heaters, transfer thermal energy via electromagnetic waves which are absorbed by people and objects in their path thereby warming them in the process.

Ceramic Heaters

Ceramic heaters operate on the convection principle. That is they heat the air by means of a ceramic element and then disperse that heated air into the room. The use of a ceramic element makes this type of heater one of the newer convection-type heaters on the market. Electricity passing through the ceramic element heats it. The heat is then absorbed by the another material, typically aluminum, and a fan blows the hot air into the room.

Benefits of Ceramic Heaters

Ceramic heaters are generally small, portable and emit a great deal of heat from a small box. Ceramic heaters are likely to be more energy efficient and safer than many heaters. Even though they heat up quickly, their outer plastic covers stay cool. The price range for ceramic heaters is $30 to $60.

Radiant Heaters

Radiant space heaters discharge long-wave infrared radiation which strikes a solid object nearby and heats it. The radiant energy is not absorbed by the air through which it travels. With radiant heating, the warmth is directed and concentrated where it is needed, so radiant heaters are better at targeted or focused heating.

Benefits of Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters are energy-efficient, have no moving parts to wear out, heat very quickly, are silent and are unaffected by drafts. If the user is sitting in one location for a length of time, an infrared heater aimed in that direction will be a good choice. The price range for radiant heaters is $15 to $100. Added price brings a greater number of features but no increase in efficiency.