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Fan heater vs. oil Heater — which is cheaper to run?

Tom's Guide 12/3/2022 Erin Bendig
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With energy costs on the rise, many households are looking for ways to save money while staying warm this winter. Saving on your heating bills this winter can be done in many ways, one of which is using a fan heater to warm up specific rooms.  

Both fan heaters and oil heaters are popular, but which is a better option? Keep reading to determine whether a fan heater or oil heater is cheaper to run this winter. 

Fan heaters

Using a fan heater is an easy way to heat up spaces quickly. A fan heater works by blowing air over a heating element and then circulating that warm air throughout your home. Typically, fan heaters are small and portable. They’re good for providing additional heat to whichever room you’re in. 

Fan heaters typically cost anywhere from $50 to $150 and cost around 20 cents an hour to run. 

Pros:

  • Portability makes fan heaters convenient to use anywhere in the home
  • Fan heaters can heat up a room quickly if they're smaller rooms
  • Many fan heaters also have a heatless fan setting, making them useful in the summer months as well

Cons: 

  • Fan heaters dry out the air in a room
  • Need to be constantly running to provide heat, which uses a lot of energy
  • Not effective in an improperly insulated home

Oil Heaters

An oil heater is a form of convection heater used to warm your home. In an oil heater, oil flows within metal columns, where it’s heated by an element at the base of the heater. This causes a convection current inside the heater, and the hot oil will begin to heat the metal casing it’s held in. Once the oil is heated thoroughly, it will maintain its heat for a while.

Generally, oil heaters cost between $50 to $250 and cost an average of 10 cents an hour to run. 

Pros:

  • Oil heaters retain heat even when turned off which saves energy
  • Keeps airflow stable, preventing dry air
  • Don't produce much noise

Cons: 

  • Oil heaters take a long time to heat up and warm the space they're in
  • Slow heat circulation
  • Can be much heavier and harder to move than other heaters

Verdict

Between oil heaters and fan heaters, the most cost effective option would be using an oil heater. Both have their ups and down, but oil heaters use less energy in the long run - even if they cost a bit more upfront. 

If you decide to use central heating, make sure your thermostat is set to this temperature to save on heating costs.  

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