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Portable electric heaters: are they worth it?

Portable electric heaters: are they worth it?

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Last updated: 14 July 2021

Portable heaters are a great way to stay warm, inside or outside. But are they worth it? Our guide explores.

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What types of portable electric heaters are there?

When it comes to electric heaters, there are a few different types to choose from.

Convector heaters

Create warmth via an internal heating element, which heats the air and circulates it evenly. On the whole, rooms take longer to heat than with other heaters, but they give an all-round warmth.

Fan heaters

Extremely light and fast-heating, creating heat by means of an electric coil. However, as they use a fan to circulate heat they do emit noise.

Halogen heaters

Have one of the lowest power ratings, meaning they produce less heat. However, as a result they’re typically the cheapest radiant heaters.

Oil-filled heaters

Are efficient and cheap and come with a thermostat control. Though they’re bulky, heat retention makes them worth it.

There are also plenty of other heating options other than electric. Check out our guide for the most energy efficient heating for your home.

Are portable electric heaters efficient?

Electric heaters are far superior in terms of efficiency compared with gas heaters, which not only run on fossil fuels, but also emit fumes and don’t conserve energy.

100% of the electricity used is converted into heat, meaning they’re doubly efficient if your electricity comes from fully renewable sources.

But remember that electric heaters should not be used as a substitute for central heating. They’re efficient at giving bursts of heat for short spells, however you’ll quickly rack up a costly electricity bill if you use them too much.

What features should I look out for when buying an electric heater?

You often get what you pay for, and electric heaters are no exception to that rule. While basic models are plug-in-and-go, some of the more advanced electric heaters will have extra tech that offers greater control and can even help reduce your energy usage. Here are some of the additional features you should look out for:

  • Thermostat - allows you to more closely monitor the temperature of the room your heater is in
  • Timer - lets you preset your heater to turn on before you get home
  • Cold-air capabilities - meaning you can use it all year round
  • Air purifying - can reduce the humidity built up while heating
  • Safety features - all electric heaters will have some built in safety features, though the more expensive versions are extra protected

Should I get a portable electric heater?

That depends on your home. Using portable electric heaters alongside a central heating system will drive up your energy bills, not to mention increase your carbon footprint. However, there are many situations where a portable electrical heater is the most cost-effective way to extra warmth.

Rather than turning on your entire central heating system, you can isolate a single room or rooms where you’ll be spending most of your time. Similarly, if there’s a room without central heating, electric heaters can make a great solution. They're also a great option for small homes or flats that take less energy to heat up.

Furthermore, many central heating systems take a long time to kick in, especially in older houses. Portable electric heaters provide that immediate burst of heat.

Overall, it’s probably best to have one on reserve in the event your central heating goes on the blink. They’re extremely affordable to buy and, if used smartly, won’t cost you an arm and a leg to run either.

If you feel like you are spending a fortune on your energy bills, it may be time to switch. Our comparison tool will help you find the best energy deals on the market today. 


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Michael Quinn

Author: Michael Quinn

Michael is a dedicated author helping usave to write guides, blogs and news for the last four years. When not writing articles, you can usually find him at wine tasting events or having a political debate on the night tube.

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