On chilly mornings, there’s nothing like a warm and cozy home. Achieving a comfortable temperature in a cost-effective, earth-friendly way can make even the nippiest day more bearable. Space heaters can offer a cost-effective solution for heating a small space or supplementing inadequate heating in certain areas of your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Space heaters come in all sizes and styles to fit almost any décor or heating need.
Natural gas provides the ideal fuel source for space heating. It is a more economical heat source than electricity, propane or wood, and it provides more precise temperature control.
Gas heaters do not require electricity, making them a valuable heat source during a power outage. But perhaps most important, natural gas provides a more effective heat.
“Natural gas makes you feel warmer, and it’s instantaneous,” said Leo Brown, director of sales for Cozy Heating Systems LLC. “With heat, you feel the heat if you’re anywhere close to it. A gas heater will heat faster than other delivery systems.”
All Sizes and Types
Space heaters come in sizes ranging from smaller 10,000 or 15,000 British thermal units (BTUs) up to larger 65,000 BTUs. Brown said the average space heater is probably 30,000 to 40,000 BTUs, but size will depend on how the system is used.
Space heaters generally are intended to heat only the room in which they are placed. However, in warmer climates, a larger unit could serve as a home’s sole heating source, Brown said.
“In places like the southern states where they don’t have as cold a winter day and where it isn’t cold for as long a period of time, a larger unit could be the heater for the house,” he said. “Colder areas, such as northern states, need higher BTUs and need the primary heater to run for days on end, so space heaters are more supplemental.”
Some small space heaters may be vent-free, but most either use conventional or direct venting. Most are mounted to either the floor or a wall.
Vent-free systems draw room air to support combustion. With efficiency ratings of up to 99.9 percent, they release almost all the generated heat into the area to be heated. Used for supplemental heat only, vent-free units come with oxygen depletion sensors that automatically shut the unit down if there is an inadequate oxygen supply.
Direct-vent room heaters or wall furnaces can be installed on most exterior walls because they don’t need a chimney and are self-contained, sealed-combustion heating appliances. Wall furnaces are generally less expensive than central furnaces and, because each heater has its own controls, can allow temperatures to be varied throughout the home.
High efficiency, direct-vent heaters contain a sealed-combustion chamber that draws air for burning from outside; it exhausts the combustion byproducts outdoors to keep indoor air fresh. Units often include blowers to expand the heated space.
Conventionally-vented heating systems use a chimney or flue to vent through the roof. These units are somewhat less efficient because the venting process allows a portion of the home’s heat to escape up the chimney.
Freestanding gas stoves can add some of the ambiance of a fireplace while bringing additional warmth to a home. Freestanding stoves can be vented through an existing chimney or on an outside wall, and some are vent-free. Gas stoves come in a variety of styles and colors, allowing them to complement almost any room.
Assessing Your Needs
Deciding which heater is right for you depends on your needs and the size of the space you’re heating, Brown said. The type of insulation in the space you are trying to heat is also important in deciding what size heater you need.
Cozy offers a BTU calculator (cozyheaters.com/btuh-calculator) that provides a rough estimate based on the cubic footage and type of insulation in the space to be heated. A contractor can get even more specific about heating needs based on a more in-depth analysis.
Before you begin any renovation project, an important first step is to check local construction codes. These codes may restrict the use of certain types of heaters which will have an impact on your selection.
Regardless of the size or style you choose, a natural gas space heater will keep the chill out and the savings in while generating plenty of cozy warmth for your home.
Cozy Space Heating was written by Tonya McMurray for Natural Living, a publication distributed by Southeast Gas and published by Energy Solutions Center.