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Space Heaters vs. Central Heating: Which is Better?

As temperatures start to drop, homeowners and business owners often face a crucial decision: should they invest in a central heating system or rely on space heaters to keep their spaces warm and comfortable? Inspired Greens is here to help you make an informed decision.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of space heaters and central heating systems, helping you choose the best option for your property. We’ll cover cost considerations, effectiveness based on space size and insulation, safety concerns, and frequently asked questions about home heating.

Cost Considerations

Initial Investment:

The upfront cost for a central heating system can be quite high, especially if you need to install a new boiler, radiators, and ducts. However, once installed, a central heating system can last for many years with minimal maintenance.

Conversely, space heaters are generally cheaper to purchase but may need to be replaced more frequently due to wear and tear.

Ongoing Running Costs:

Running costs for central heating systems vary depending on the type of fuel used (gas or electricity), the efficiency of the boiler, and the size and insulation of your space.

Space heaters can be less expensive to run, especially if you only need to heat a small area or use them sporadically. However, if you rely on multiple space heaters to heat a large area, the costs can quickly add up, making them less cost-effective for larger spaces.

Maintenance and Repairs:

A well-maintained central heating system can last for many years with regular servicing and occasional repairs. The less you maintain your heater, the more likely expensive repairs will be required. Poorly maintained heaters will also need to be replaced sooner. Space heaters generally require less maintenance but may need to be replaced more frequently due to wear and tear or damage.


Space Size and Heating Requirements:

Central heating systems are designed to heat an entire building, making them an efficient choice for large homes or businesses. In contrast, space heaters are ideal for warming smaller areas or providing supplementary heat in poorly insulated spaces. If you need to heat a large area consistently, a central heating system is likely to be more effective.

Insulation and Energy Efficiency:

The effectiveness of both central heating and space heaters depends heavily on the insulation and energy efficiency of your space. A well-insulated building will retain heat more effectively, reducing the amount of energy required to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Central heating systems can be more energy-efficient than space heaters, particularly when used in conjunction with programmable thermostats and smart heating controls.

Heating Distribution and Consistency:

A central heating system provides even, consistent heat throughout a building, making it a comfortable option for larger spaces. Space heaters can provide targeted warmth in specific areas but struggle to maintain consistent temperatures across a large room or multiple rooms.


Fire Hazards:

Both central heating systems and space heaters can pose fire hazards if not properly maintained or used incorrectly.

Space heaters should be placed on a stable, flat surface, away from flammable materials, and should never be left unattended. They should be plugged directly into the wall, not power strips or extension cords.

Central heating systems should be regularly maintained to ensure excess dust is not building up around electrical components and that all parts are in working order.

Carbon Monoxide Risks:

Gas and oil-fired central heating systems can produce carbon monoxide, a dangerous gas that can cause serious health problems or even death if not properly vented. It is essential to have carbon monoxide detectors installed and to schedule regular maintenance checks for your central heating system. Electric space heaters do not produce carbon monoxide but should still be used with caution and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Safety Features:

Check the safety features of your space heater before purchasing. Many portable heaters include settings such as tip-over protection, overheat protection, and cool-touch exteriors to minimise the risk of accidents.

Comparing Types of Space Heaters

Fan Heaters:

Fan heaters use an electric heating element and a fan to distribute warm air throughout a room. They are relatively inexpensive and can heat a room quickly, but they can also be noisy and may not be suitable for larger spaces or for people with allergies.

Oil-Filled Radiators:

Oil-filled radiators, also known as oil-filled column heaters, use electric heating elements to warm oil inside the unit, which then radiates heat into the room. While they are quiet, efficient, and provide consistent warmth, they can take longer to heat up than other types of space heaters.

Infrared Heaters:

Infrared heaters use infrared radiation to heat objects and people directly, rather than heating the air. They are energy-efficient and can provide instant warmth.

Ceramic Heaters:

Ceramic heaters use ceramic plates and a fan to distribute warm air throughout a room. They are energy-efficient and quiet.

Gas Heaters:

Gas heaters use propane or natural gas to generate heat and can be a cost-effective option for heating large spaces. However, they can produce carbon monoxide and should only be used in well-ventilated areas with appropriate safety precautions, such as carbon monoxide detectors.

Considerations for Larger Spaces:

All space heaters will not work as efficiently in larger spaces, as they use radiant heat to warm a space. Compared to central heating, which distributes hot air through multiple vents, space heaters can create cold spots in your room.

Top Tips for Efficient Heating

Regardless of the heating option you choose, making a few simple changes can help reduce strain on your unit and your energy bills while keeping your space comfortable.

Insulation and Draught-Proofing:

Improving insulation and draught-proofing can significantly reduce heating costs and improve the effectiveness of both central heating systems and space heaters. Heat can escape through floors, walls, ceilings, and doors, so it is vital to ensure these have no gaps and are well-insulated.

Using Timers and Thermostats:

Using programmable thermostats and timers can help you maintain optimal temperatures while minimising energy waste.

Correct Heater Placement:

Place space heaters on a stable, flat surface away from flammable materials and ensure they are not obstructed by furniture or other objects.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance:

Regularly clean and maintain your central heating system or space heaters to ensure they operate efficiently and safely.


When it comes to cost, space heaters are less expensive upfront, but if run consistently or to heat a larger space, the expenses can quickly grow.

Both central heating and space heaters pose safety risks, but with regular maintenance, most of the risks associated with central heating systems can be avoided. Many space heaters come with safety features but should still be used with caution.

There are many different varieties of space heaters with varying levels of noise, efficiency, safety, and heat delivery. However, they are designed with smaller spaces in mind.

Finally, ensuring that your space is well-insulated, that your unit is well-maintained, and that you utilise timer functions will optimise your heating outcomes.

Ultimately, the best choice depends on your space, the frequency it requires heating, and what you’re willing to spend. For smaller spaces, infrequent usage, and a lower upfront cost, space heaters are an excellent option. However, if you’re heating multiple rooms or a whole house throughout the cooler months, the slightly higher cost of central heating is well worth it.

For expert advice and reliable heating solutions, contact Inspired Greens today and ensure your space is warm and comfortable throughout the colder months.

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