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What Is the Cost to Run an Electric Heater Per Hour?

By UJJBARAN October 14, 2021

All electric heaters run on the principle of turning electricity into heat. The most common way to do this is to power up a wire coil and then use a small built-in fan to blow the heat out of the heating enclosure. Think of a stove burner that heats up, then imagine a fan blowing that heat around the room. The cost to run an electric heater per day depends solely on your electricity costs per kilowatt hour, which can be found on your electric bill each month.

    • Find out what you are paying your local electric company per kilowatt hour. For example, in San Francisco, the average cost of a kilowatt hour is 20 cents per hour.

    • Locate the wattage of your space heater based on the manufacturer's information. A common wattage for space heaters is 1,500 watts.

      • Apply the formula 1,500 x 24 ÷ 1,000 x $0.20 to determine the cost to run the space heater for a day. (Dividing by 1,000 changes watt hours to kilowatt hours.) In this case, it will cost $7.20 if it was running for 24 hours straight.

      • Divide the cost per day by how many hours in a day. In this equation, that would be $7.20 divided by 24. The answer will be 30 cents per hour.


      As long as you know the wattage of any electrical appliance, you can use this formula to find out the cost of using it per hour.


      How to Determine Power Costs for a Space Heater

      With the rising cost of heat, spot-heating parts of your home that you use most frequently begins to make more fiscal sense. You can set your thermostat at a cool temperature and use a space heater to warm just the living room or just the bedroom. Choosing a space heater based on what it is intended to do and knowing how much it will cost to operate go hand in hand in the decision-making process.

      Pennies per Hour

      Divide the number of watts the space heater uses by 1,000. Multiply the result by the per hour cost of your electricity. For example, if your heater uses 1,500 watts and your electricity cost is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, divide 1,500 by 1,000, which equals 1.5. Multiply this by 12 cents per kilowatt hour for the result of 18. The heater costs 18 cents per hour to operate. Your rate per kilowatt-hour is listed on your electric bill or is available by calling you electricity supplier.


      How to Figure the BTUs for an Electric Heater

      Size represents a primary concern when shopping for an electric heater. An undersized unit leaves an unwanted chill in the air, while a heater that's too big for your space wastes energy and can leave you uncomfortably hot. Understanding how to convert watts and British thermal units can make it easier to compare heaters and find the best electric heater for your home

      Convert Wattage to Btu

      1. Inspect the label or metal plaque on your electric heater to find the wattage. You can also find this information in your product brochure or instruction manual, and it's typically listed on the box for those shopping for new heaters. A standard electric room heater may have a rating of 1,500 watts.

      2. Multiply the wattage of your unit by 3.41 per watt to calculate Btu. A standard 1,500-watt electric heater produces 5,115 (1,500 times 3.41) Btu per hour.

      3. Take the Btu figure you calculated in Step 2 when purchasing or comparing heating systems. This information can be helpful when comparing electric and nonelectric heaters, which are typically rated in Btu.

      Determining How Many Btu You Need

        1. Measure the length and width of your room using a tape measure.

        2. Find the square footage of the space you plan to heat with your electric heater by multiplying length times width.

        3. Multiply the square footage of the room by the estimated 10 watts of electric heat required to heat each square foot. For example, a 12- by 12-foot room measures 144 square feet. Multiplying this by 10 reveals that a 1,440-watt heater is required to heat the space.

        4. Calculate Btu by multiplying the number of watts by 3.41. A 1,440-watt heater generates 4,910 Btu per hour.

      Things You Will Need

      • Tape measure

      • Calculator


      The Family Handyman suggests a 1,000-watt/3,410-Btu heater for rooms under 100 square feet, a 1,500-watt/5,115-Btu heater for rooms measuring 100 to 150 square feet, and a 2,500-watt/8,525-Btu heater for rooms between 150 and 250 square feet.

      To find watts when you know Btu, divide Btu by 3.41.

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