Portable electric space heaters are among the least efficient means to heat a home. For heating just a small space, however, their relatively low cost may make them a reasonable investment.
Electric space heaters use electrical resistance to generate heat, which is either radiated or blown through a room. Their sizes and capacities vary, but most are designed for heating one relatively small room. While they are able to convert nearly all of the electricity they consume into heat, the cost of electricity makes them expensive to operate. Central heating systems typical convert fossil fuel directly into heat, but power plants must first convert heat energy into electricity, which leads to significant losses.
However, portable space heaters offer versatility not supplied by central heating systems. Homeowners looking to heat a single room may prefer to use a portable space heater instead of closing off part of a boiler or furnace to the rest of the home. Since central heating systems are sized to heat an entire home, they lose energy when only used in a single room, and the faster start-up time of space heaters may make them a better option.
If a certain room is not receiving enough heat, a space heater can serve as a temporary fix. Correcting problems with the central heating system, however, leads to better efficiency.