Author Topic: Most efficient space heaters  (Read 27494 times)

PaulM12345

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Most efficient space heaters
« on: September 01, 2012, 03:42:05 PM »
One of our biggest costs is electricity, and we're trying to tackle it now, before winter hits. This is a step-by-step process... Plastic on windows, shorter showers, etc. We're going to drastically cut down on heating the whole home, but because we have babies in the house we want to provide some heat in the bedrooms, especially because they tend to squirm out of blankets and then get cold and wake up.

Can anyone recommend a space heater that is efficient? How would I best assess efficiency? We already have an electric oil-filled radiator style which I've heard is good, and were thinking of buying another one, but I thought I'd check with you all to see if there's something I'm not thinking of.

(One thing we want to avoid is the type that gets really hot and orange, as that provides a safety risk for young children.)

Thanks!

James

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2012, 03:48:17 PM »
He have a stand type that has a built in thermostat, I like being able to set the temp.  It has a fan that moves the air around, I've found it works pretty well.  Got it from Menards.
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James

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 03:51:27 PM »
I just looked, it's a Lasko model 5511.  We have had two of them (they were on sale about 4 years ago), and they have both worked great.  Very controllable and quiet.  They even come with a remote, though we don't use it much.  We have a big house so it helps to only heat the area we need instead of the whole place.
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Posthumane

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 04:38:52 PM »
Electric space heaters are all pretty efficient (in an energy in/energy out sense), since it's really just a resistive element that gets heated inside. They do have different characteristics though: the oil filled radiator type that you have is good for longer heating periods as it has a relatively high thermal mass, so it takes a while to heat up but stays warm for a while even after you shut it off. They are good for heating a whole room for an entire night, for example. The type with just a coil and a fan will warm up almost immediately, and is best for warming a specific area of a room with warm air. If you are wanting mostly to keep babies warm, I would use one of these.

That being said, although electric space heaters are efficient, electricity is often expensive compared to other energy sources. Since you mention trying to reduce your electric bill by insulating windows and taking shorter showers, I assume you have electric heat for the house and for water. I'm not sure what the prices of other energy sources are in your area, but where I live gas is about one tenth the price of electricity per unit of energy (if you want to figure this out you have to convert between kWh and GJ or BTU, as they are usually measured differently). You may want to look into replacing the electric heat with natural gas if it's economical in your area to do so.
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Perpetual_Student

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 10:35:11 PM »
Heat the babies better...I don't know their ages, but if you put them in better thermal PJs or two pairs of PJs, they may not be so uncomfortable in a lower-temperature room.  Don't forget warm thermal socks and hats for the sleeping kiddos.  Hats with little velcro straps might stay on their heads better, though I guess I worry about choking.

Also consider creating a blanket canopy around the crib, that (again depending on the babies' ages) the kiddos cannot reach from the crib to yank down.  Canopy beds were originally designed partly to create a space of insulated air that the heat from the sleepers' bodies could warm.

Insulate your babies a little more with things they can't squirm out of, and you can still keep the heat fairly low and have comfortable kids that sleep through the night.  Good on you heating the people in the house and not the whole house - that's very mustachian!

gooki

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2012, 02:40:35 AM »
A quality heat pump (aka reverse cycle air conditioner) should be 3:1 efficient across a broad spectrum of outdoor temperatures.

If your home has central heating via radiators a well tuned ground source heat pump would get you efficiency close to 5:1.

CG

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2012, 03:58:41 AM »
I like this convection heater:
http://reviews.bigw.com.au/0566/bpnBIGW_0000000268615/reviews.htm

immediate warmth, totally silent, no glowing or moving parts, light to move around, 3 heat settings (75W, 125W and 200W), and relatively inexpensive to buy and to run. I find it far more effective than the oil-filled radiator type.

bogart

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2012, 07:30:30 AM »
Honestly I think I'd  be more inclined to focus on ways to help the babies stay warm (i.e. covered by their blankets) while sleeping.  You don't say how old they are, but in one post I see mention of a 2 y.o. -- he (she?) should be past most of the entanglement/SIDs safety concerns, right?  So regular blanketing strategies + fleece sleepwear?  Of course this assumes a kid who (more or less) stays down once asleep for the night ... otherwise, I might rethink that, depending on your family's personal circumstances and preferences.  I'm perfectly willing to think of reasonable sleep and/or non-frigid wakeups as a huge priority when you're parenting LOs who aren't yet sleeping through the night. 

Assuming one or more are closer to being babies rather than toddlers, what about fleece sleep sacks?

Perpetual_Student

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2012, 08:59:14 AM »
I'm sure you're already good with a lot of these strategies, but maybe there is something here you haven't considered:

http://www.richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp

James

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2012, 08:10:24 PM »
I'm sure you're already good with a lot of these strategies, but maybe there is something here you haven't considered:

http://www.richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp


I think a dog bed heater under the baby's mattress would be great.
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PaulM12345

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2012, 08:16:19 PM »
James - Thanks for the suggestion - I'll look into the Lasko when making a purchase.

Posthumane - Thanks for the overview of the different types, which makes sense. Based on your description I actually think the oil-filled type is what we need - it's basically going to be on a very low setting all through the night, to keep toddler's room temp at a reasonable level (reasonable is of course a matter of opinion, and differs in our household... see below :) Regarding electric versus gas - we are renting so upgrading is not our decision, although I think gas heat would save us a ton. When we consider buying a place it will definitely be a consideration (It's strange - I live in an area with hydropower so it seems like it shouldn't cost so much to heat our house, but it does.)

Bogart and Perpetual student suggested heating the babies better, and that led me to look into warmer sleepwear. THe problem is that he just won't stay under his blankets and doesn't seem to know to pull them up if he's cold (hard to really know what he knows...) A canopy wouldn't work for our toddler, as he'd assume it was an added play structure to climb on/tear down. We also have a newborn who sleeps in our room. It's harder to bundle them up because more blankets become a safety risk, but I think a sleep sack over PJs would do a lot to insulate.

A big issue is that my wife, who is quite on-board with Mustacianism, generally, has a sort of biological, maternal opposition to removing a heater if it gets at all cold at night (and we're talking now, August and September in the PNW) I'd like to get a thermometer and measure just how "cold" it gets, but the reality is that I don't think she'll budge on the space heater, so warm clothing becomes a moot point; or rather, we have to start worrying about his PJs being too warm...

Gooki - I'd love a heat pump but it's not doable where we live. Maybe when we move!

CG - Thanks for the tip - will look into that one.

Thanks again, all. Stay tuned for an upcoming post when I'll ask about diaper drying in humid conditions :)

Another Reader

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2012, 08:32:09 PM »
I'm totally in agreement with that guy's idea that turning your furnace down at night and then up in the morning saves very little, if any money, at least here in temperate Northern California.  I used to drop the thermostat to 58 at night (and froze all night) and then turn it up to 68 during the day.  I found it took several hours of the furnace cycling to get the house to temperature and then to equilibrium in the morning.  If I left the house at 68 during the day and 67 at night, the furnace ran a lot less during the day and the difference in gas usage overall was nominal.  Using electric oil filled space heaters at night to bring the bedrooms to 65 and turning the gas heat down to 55 was significantly more expensive.

I find that if I manage the blinds to capture the maximum sun during winter days, the heat stays off most of the afternoon.  The cold weather here is also very damp, so I'm inclined to keep the temperature higher, capture heat during the day, and insulate against heat loss at night.


Another Reader

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2012, 08:37:28 PM »
The issue of humid cold vs. dry cold is a very real one.  Not sure how it works with babies, but a damp 55 degrees in the Bay Area is a lot colder to my older bones than 55 degrees in a dry Arizona winter.  In the PNW, the problem is likely even worse.

Lars

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Re: Most efficient space heaters
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2012, 08:40:23 AM »
Thanks to the low natural gas prices, I think you'll find electric considerably more expensive. Based on my utility bills, heat from electric space heaters costs me $0.10 per kwh and $0.02 per kwh for heat from our  high effeciency gas furnace. My interior walls aren't insulated enough to overcome that cost differential.