Best Picks for Energy Efficient and Portable Space Heaters

Updated: Apr. 15, 2024

If you have a drafty home, are always cold or just want to add some supplemental heat, there's an energy-efficient space heater fit for the job.

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The 7 Best Energy Efficient Space HeatersVIA MERCHANT

When the temperatures drop, sometimes your furnace just doesn’t cut it. No matter your room size, an energy-efficient space heater is a smart way to warm up a cold space and help cut down on those high winter heating bills. Energy-efficient space heaters are designed to provide targeted warmth while consuming minimal energy. Plus, today’s models are often much safer than those you may remember from decades ago.

“The primary advantage of owning an energy-efficient space heater is its ability to heat specific areas, allowing users to avoid heating the entire home and thereby reducing overall energy consumption,” explains Brad Roberson, the president of Aire Serv, a Neighborly company specializing in HVAC services for residential and commercial clients. “These heaters often come with advanced features such as programmable thermostats, energy-saving modes and safety features, making them a cost-effective and convenient solution for supplemental heating,” he adds.

Discover some of the top-performing energy-efficient space heaters on the market, guaranteed to keep you comfortably warm indoors while the cold air works overtime outside.

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Introducing our top pick: the Vornado MVH Vortex Heater. It not only has three heat settings, an adjustable thermostat and an auto safety shutoff function, but this portable heater won’t make you feel like there’s a furnace pointed right at you. This model uses vortex air circulation—similar to that of a forced air furnace—to warm up rooms on a smaller scale. It works best to heat bedrooms, home offices and living rooms.

Pros

  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Three heat settings
  • Features a unique airflow pattern
  • Includes automatic shutoff for safety
  • Cool-touch exterior
  • Whisper-quiet operation

Cons

  • Not meant for large spaces

2 / 7

For a wallet-friendly option, the Aikoper convection space heater is an Amazon favorite, boasting more than 15,000 five-star ratings. It has multiple heat settings, distributing heat evenly to a small living room, bedroom or home office. Plus, its lightweight and compact design makes it an easy-to-move energy-efficient space heater. It also has a built-in fan option, so you can distribute the heat where you need it most.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Heats up in seconds
  • Produces low noise levels
  • Fan-only option can be used in the summer
  • Overheat and tip-over protection features

Cons

  • Only heats rooms up to 150 square feet

3 / 7

Best for Large Spaces

Dr Infrared Portable Space Heater

If you need to eliminate the chill from a larger room, the Dr. Infrared space heater effectively heats spaces up to 1,000 square feet. This model uses infrared heat, which warms objects and bodies, as opposed to a standard space heater that warms the air in a room. It features an electronic thermostat with a range of 50 to 85 degrees and can be conveniently controlled with the included remote. Additionally, a handy 12-hour timer is available for automatic shutdown of this energy-efficient space heater.

With more than 17,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, it’s also popular among shoppers. One happy customer, TFcsusEEE, says it’s the “best product I’ve purchased on Amazon,” adding, “it does a good job at warming my 1,000 square foot room, and it’s great for energy efficiency.” Another five-star reviewer, jdrinseattle, writes: “So far it has cut my energy bill in half and I’m very happy with it. Easy to use, clean and tucks away into the corner like a small piece of furniture.”

Pros

  • Covers spaces up to 1,000 square feet
  • Remote control and 12-hour timer
  • Features wheels to move around
  • Very quiet
  • Easy-to-use controls

Cons

  • Retro look might not appeal to everyone

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Best Wall-Mounted

Heat Storm Wall Mounted Space Heater

If you’re short on floor space, this Heat Storm 1,500-watt space heater is a convenient option for bedrooms and living rooms up to 300 square feet. This infrared heater, complete with a remote control, has a safe-to-touch exterior, so it’s ideal for homes with small children and pets. There’s no installation required, and it features a digital display. If you don’t have a wall to hang it on, this energy-efficient space heater can also be used on the floor. While you’re at it, find out which is the safest space heater to buy for your home.

Pros

  • Can be mounted on the wall or placed on the floor
  • No installation required
  • Built-in thermostat with LED display
  • Available in two colors: white and gray

Cons

  • Pricer than other models
  • Not meant for very large spaces

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Best Space Heater For Ambiance via merchant

Best for Ambiance

Style Selections Fireplace Space Heater

Add warmth and ambiance to a room with the Style Selections infrared space heater, which mimics the look of many electric fireplaces. This infrared model throws out 5,200 British Thermal Units (BTUs) to heat up to 1,000 square feet, making large rooms feel more comfortable when the temperatures drop. This energy-efficient space heater features a 3D realistic flame effect, which can be used with or without heat, and has five adjustable brightness settings. It can be controlled with the included remote and has a programmable shutoff and digital thermostat readout.

Pros

  • Doubles as a fireplace
  • Covers up to 1,000 square feet
  • Produces low noise levels
  • Adjustable digital thermostat

Cons

  • No tip-over safety switch

6 / 7

Inject style and warmth to your space with the Isiler portable space heater. This ceramic model comes in four colors to match your room’s decor and works best in small spaces, such as a bedroom or playroom. The heater has a self-regulating element and automatic overheating protection for safety, as well as an easy-to-use temperature control dial. It weighs less than three pounds and offers a powerful heat output for its compact size.

Pros

  • Available in gray, yellow, green and pink colors
  • Includes a handle for portability
  • Has overheating and tip-over protections
  • Very affordable
  • Heats a space within seconds

Cons

  • Only warms up to 108 square feet

7 / 7

Best for Outdoor Use

Mr. Heater Propane Radiant Space Heater


Best Space Heater For Garage Workshop And Outdoorvia merchant

For those looking to take the chill out of their workshop or garage—or warm up an outdoor party this winter—the Mr. Heater portable space heater will get the job done in even the coldest of conditions. This energy-efficient space heater gives off up to 9,000 BTUs, and heats spaces up to 225 square feet. It is safe to use indoors as well, and automatically shuts off if tipped over if the pilot light goes out or it detects low oxygen levels.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty design meant for the outdoors
  • Runs up to 5.4 hours on low and 2.4 hours on high
  • Features low-oxygen safety shutoff system

Cons

  • Propane tank not included
  • Should use a carbon monoxide detector when running

Types of Energy-Efficient Space Heaters

  • Ceramic space heaters: These work when electricity passes through coils, allowing the ceramic plates to heat up.
  • Infrared space heaters: Infrared options warm a room by emitting electromagnetic waves that heat physical objects in the room, such as the floor, furniture and you.
  • Fan space heaters: These use a metal coil that heats up and transfers warmth to the space using a fan. Keep in mind that these can be noisy compared to other models.
  • Radiant space heaters: With radiant options, they convert energy to heat via the use of an oil. If you’re looking to heat an area like a garage, at a slow and steady rate, consider this type.

What to Consider When Buying an Energy-Efficient Space Heater

When looking for an energy-efficient space heater, you’ll need to consider the size of the space you’ll be heating. Some portable heaters work best in small rooms, while others are better suited to warm large areas. Look for additional features, such as whether it’s programmable or controlled via remote. Also, check for safety functions, such as automatic shutoff and tip-over protection, as well as how hot it gets during use or if there’s a cool-touch exterior.

Consider the space heater’s BTU, which tells you how much energy a heater uses to warm up a room. The higher the BTUs, the better equipped the heater will be to bring the heat to larger spaces.

Also look at watt ratings, which measure the rate of energy transfer. In simpler terms, how much you run the space heater determines how much electricity it uses over time. When determining what space heater to choose for your space, on average you’ll need about 10 watts for every square foot of floor space. So a 1,200-watt space heater covers about 120 square feet.

Why You Should Trust Us

I lived through a major home renovation in 2019 so I know the ups and downs of home improvement projects. I’m a veteran journalist of both print and television with experience covering everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden products. In addition to Family Handyman, I’ve contributed to various publications including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent; and have won several writing awards.

For this article, we also got advice from Brad Roberson, the president of Aire Serv, a Neighborly company that provides HVAC services to residential and commercial clients. Aire Serv is a trusted name in the field of heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance and repair; and Robertson has almost 20 years of experience.

How We Found the Best Energy-Efficient Space Heater

As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.

FAQ

What type of space heater is most energy efficient?

Infrared space heaters are largely considered to be the most energy-efficient. These heaters don’t lose heat to air movement and heat a space extremely fast.

Is it cheaper to turn up the thermostat or use a space heater?

It depends. If you’re looking to warm up your entire home, turning up the thermostat and using your central heating source is the most efficient. However, if you’re just looking to warm up a smaller space, such as a bedroom, playroom or home office, a space heater is the way to go since it’s only heating the room in use.

What are the benefits of an energy-efficient space heater?

According to Roberson, energy-efficient space heaters are a cost-effective and convenient solution for supplemental heating. “The primary advantage of owning an energy-efficient space heater is its ability to heat specific areas, allowing users to avoid heating the entire home, which reduces overall energy consumption,” he says.

Are they budget-friendly to run in your home?

Energy-efficient space heaters can be budget-friendly for targeted heating needs in specific areas of a home, says Roberson. However, he adds, it’s important to note that an HVAC system is generally more efficient in maintaining consistent indoor temperatures throughout the entire house. “Space heaters are best used as supplemental sources of warmth in areas where centralized heating may not be necessary, providing flexibility and cost savings in specific situations,” he explains. “However, for overall heating needs, a well-maintained and efficient HVAC system remains the primary and more comprehensive solution.”