Are Electric Heaters Energy-Efficient? (You Didn’t KNOW This!)

You might be conscientious about the environment, and so, you want to use energy conscientiously. Or, you might be a rational spender and would want to make sure that your energy bill is justified. Maybe you are both! 

In all cases, using energy-efficient appliances is a great way to save the environment and your budget


Heating is an especially power-hungry process. Thus it’s quite common to wonder; are electric heaters energy efficient?  There are a lot of alternatives such as gas-powered heaters and heat pumps. What is the best option?

Read on to find out! 

What Exactly Is Energy Efficiency? 

Energy efficiency is putting in a certain amount of effort, and getting an equal outcome, with no waste. 

A Simple Example 

For example: If you need to fill water from point A to point B, and need to use 10 buckets to keep moving the water, that seems like a lot of work. Also, there’s plenty of waste in the system as the water keeps spilling. Not to mention the wasted time. 

Contrary to that, connecting a pipe from point A to point B, would get the water efficiently, quickly, and with no waste at all. Clearly, that’s a much better way to conserve resources.   

Things Can Get More Complicated!

Another example is choosing between asking ten men to move a big rock or using a lever along with the power of five men. What if, you can get a pulley system? Or maybe a little crane? 

Having more choices often complicates things! But that’s not the case with engineers. Each one of these situations can be reduced to a mathematical equation, and you would end up with a neat figure: energy efficiency presented as a percentage.

How Is Energy Efficiency Calculated?  

Using the example above; the first situation with a bunch of men hauling a big rock could have a 20% efficiency. The second option where fewer men and a lever get the rock off the ground can get a 40% efficiency rating. 

Using a pulley system or a crane makes the process a piece of cake. But bear in mind that there is the extra cost of the machines, gas to power the crane, and worker training to operate these things. One man and a pulley raise the efficiency to around 60%, and with the use of a crane, it could go up to 70%. 

Generally speaking, energy efficiency is calculated as the energy you get from the system divided by the energy you put into it. In mathematical terms:

Energy efficiency = Output Energy / Input energy * 100%   

So, Are Electric Heaters Truly Energy-Efficient? 

Typically, electric heaters are highly efficient appliances. In theory, 100% of the electricity that comes out of the outlet is converted into heat energy. 

However, there are some inevitable losses

  • Heat is lost by warming up unused areas. 
  • Lots of heat can be lost if a door is left open or a window is ajar. 
  • Setting the heater’s temperature much higher than needed is a real waste.  
  • The current seasonal temperature affects overall energy usage. 
  • The heating element eventually ages, which affects the overall efficiency.  
  • The electrical wiring could add some waste too if it becomes all worn out.  

Using smart controllers and advanced programming could increase the heater’s overall energy efficiency considerably. With the new smart-homes systems, you can make any necessary adjustments to the heating system at the house, even when you’re outside. 

Additionally, proper habits like keeping the doors and windows closed really make a difference. And it reflects on the energy bill at the end of each year. In a similar manner, going through all the leaky cracks in rooms and fixing them could also mean more energy savings

Does Size Matter in a Heater’s Energy Efficiency? 

Small stand-alone heaters are easy to install, and they adjust the temperature of a medium-sized room in a jiffy. They also don’t come at exorbitant prices. Thus, placing them in a room, to get the space warmed up quickly, often doesn’t feel too sinful. 

Well, if the house already has central heating, then adding a small stand-alone heater would be an extra cost. It would add to the bill, and use up natural resources unnecessarily. The energy efficiency here would be questionable. 

However, if you just need to warm up a single room, then, using a compact or portable heater is the right move. Oftentimes, this is utilized in a garage or an attic where the central heating isn’t available.    

Another issue is using a heater that’s too small for the room. It would overwork itself to reach the set temperature, and take a lot of time getting there. Obviously, this isn’t the most efficient way to use an electric heater.  

What Is the Most Energy Efficient Heater? 

There’s a constant debate that goes on about the energy efficiency of the various types of heaters. So what is the final say on the matter? 

The Debate About Radiant Heaters vs. Convection Heaters

There are two main types of electric radiant heaters (that use infrared waves):

  • Electric oil-filled radiators 
  • Infrared halogen radiators

And two main types of convection heaters (that use hot air or panels):

  • Fan heaters 
  • Electric panel heaters

There were many attempts to select one of these options and crown it as the most efficient electric heater. However, as figures have it, they all have similar efficiency values. 

That’s why the debate often strays to other features and questions like:  

  • How fast do they heat up a room?  
  • How heavy is the unit?  
  • How easy is it to install the heater?  
  • How Low is the initial cost?  

The Other Debate About Gas Heaters vs. Electric Heaters 

Gas heaters were the traditional manner of heating up any space. They were the next step right after the fire pit cavemen used to endure harsh winters.

Unlike the previous debate on the various types of electric heaters, this discussion is clean-cut. The verdict is that electric heaters are far more energy-efficient than gas heaters. 

Price matters could come into the equation tilting the balance in favor of gas heaters. However, environmental considerations usually rebalance the situation in favor of electric heaters. As we see solar panels and batteries getting cheaper, we could see electric heaters become more popular. Heat pumps are also becoming more popular as they are very efficient but they need electricity as well to function. The best option depends on your needs, budget, and your home. Your plumber can offer advice. A lot of technologies are still evolving so it can be challenging to pick the best heater. Most people pick a gas-powered heater but the situation is rapidly evolving.


Electric heaters are amazing appliances that turn a chilly space into a warm and inviting room. And it does that in just a few minutes. 

There’s always a comparison between using electricity in heating a room as opposed to other energy sources. A fireplace might have some romantic nuance and aesthetic value. And a gas heater is certainly cheaper to run.  

We have discussed space heaters here.

However, the ease of installing and turning ON an electric heater is incomparable. And the best part is that it is the most energy-efficient option available to us.