Home
Will this electric heater cost less to run than that electric heater?
Published 5/29/07
Revised 2/28/10
Electric heaters come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I see lots of ads claiming that this heater is more efficient than that one. Some boast "ceramic" heating elements to squeeze more heat out of the power it uses. Some are "oil-filled" and claim to continue to provide heat well after they turn off, implying that this is "free" heat. The latest I've seen employs "commercial grade quartz tubes" inside of a "cured copper" heat exchanger, also implying "free" heat after it shuts off. Some claim to need "no fuel".

Just a minute.......I'm running this all through my bullshit detector.

OK. The results are in.

Electric heaters are simple devices that convert electricity directly into heat. This is done by running the electricity through metal heating wires, or other materials capable of withstanding high temperatures, that offer resistance to the flow of the electricty. The resistance causes friction as the power flows, and the friction creates the heat.

Electricity is purchased by the watt. Actually you pay for it in quantities of 1000 watts, used for an hour, called a kilowatt-hour. All electricity can produce a given amount of heat per watt, which happens to be 3.41 BTU's. It doesn't matter where you bought that watt, how much you paid for it, how many volts or amps are in it, it will produce 3.41 BTU's.

Don't know what a BTU is? It means British Thermal Unit. One BTU is the amount of heat that you have to add to 1 lb. of water, to cause the water's temperature to increase by 1 degree F.

So getting back to the BS, oh excuse me, I mean heaters.

It DOES NOT matter whether the heater uses old-fashioned red-hot heating coils, the latest high-tech ceramics developed by NASA, Quartz heater tubes and copper that was sick until they cured it, the latest high-tech "heat turbine" from China housed in a Amish wood mantle, or 200 gallons of "permanent" oil. EVERY electric heater uses EXACTLY the same amount of electricity to produce a given amount of heat! And for the record, the "Quartz Infrared Tubes" are in fact "old-fashioned red-hot wire coils" that are simply inside of a quartz tube, which itself gets red hot. Sounds impressive, but means nothing!

I see that many people are searching for the meaning of "Cured Copper". I can't guarantee that I have the right answer, but I would guess that it means just about any piece of copper that is not melted into a liquid state at the moment!

The "free" heat that they imply you get after the heater turns off is not free at all. In the case of the "oil-filled" or "cured copper" heat exchangers, what is happening is that when you turn the heater on, the oil or copper is soaking up much of the heat that the heating element is producing. You are paying for this heat, but it is being "saved up" inside the heater. Once the oil or copper gets hot, it begins giving off heat to the surrounding air, at the same rate that the heating element is making the heat. During this operation, the heater is no different than any other heater. Once the heater turns off, it quits using power, but the saved up heat (that you PAID FOR earlier), will continue to heat the surrounding area for a while. Yes, the advantage to this is a MORE EVEN source of heat, but NO, it will NOT cost any less to operate.

The "Amish mantle" with the "heat turbine" claims to use about the same amount of electricity as a coffee maker. Yes, but your coffee pot only uses that amount of power for 5 minutes, while the coffee is brewing, not for many hours a day, as the heater will. But I guess everything has to have some kind of lie in the advertising, to get you to buy it! (The "Heat Turbine" is no different than  any $29.00 electric heater you can buy anywhere, and the "Flameless Fire" is nothing more than artificial light shining on plastic, having nothing whatsoever to do with the actual performance of the unit.)

Here is a list of other electric heaters that offer the same amount of heat for your money:

Electric iron, toaster, hair dryer, stove burner, oven, waffle-maker, pizza oven, light bulb inside a box, water bed heater, electric blanket, unvented clothes dryer. And just about anything else that intentionally converts electricity into heat!

The catch to "saving up to 60% on your heating bill" by using any one of these heaters, is that you turn your furnace thermostat way down, and only heat the one room you are using with the heater. After you spend the $379 for the cured copper or the Amish mantle, I'm sure that's what you'll read in the fine print.

In just about every circumstance, heating with electricity is actually the most expensive way to heat, 2 to 3 times that of natral gas!

There is also what's called an electric "
heat pump" which can produce several  times more heat per watt than a standard electric heater. It doesn't actually make the heat, but uses a refrigeration process similar to a room air conditioner in reverse. It collects outdoor heat at a low temperature, then concentrates the heat to a high temperature and releases it into the room.

Heat yourself up on the
<home> page!