Electric wall heater

The Cost of Running the Heater

5 min read

Guide to estimate the cost of running your heater for an hour.

There are many visible and invisible elements that affect how much we spend on our utilities like water, heat, and electricity. Some of them are obvious like usage and per unit rate, but some are less obvious like interior decor. When it comes to the cost of running a heater, some questions that come to mind are:

  1. What is the outside temperature? 
  2. How warm do you want it to be inside your room? 
  3. How large is the room? 
  4. How well insulated are the walls? 
  5. What kind of furniture is in the room? 
  6. What is your local electric rate? 

And the list goes on.

What we can tell you is how much it would cost to run the electric heater constantly for one hour straight. We say most because if you have the right size heater for your room, it would be very rare for it to be running for an hour straight. Also, if your heater is be hooked up to a thermostat, it will only turn the heater on when it needs heat in the room. However, before you do the calculations, you must consider two things 

  1. the wattage of your heater/the total wattage of the heaters you are using

  2. your local electrical rate


Calculating Your Heating Cost

The basic equation to determine the cost of running a heater is: 

kW x electric rate = total cost/hour

Note that your electrical rate will be based on kilowatt-hours (kW). Here in Vancouver, Washington our local electric provider charges about 8 cents per kW for residential customers. Let's say that you are using two 750-watt heaters to heat a large room in your home, for a total of 1,500-watts. To convert watts into kilowatt-hours, you can first divide the watts by 1,000. That gives you the electricity used in an hour. Since in our example, we are using 1,500-watts with two heaters, our kilowatt-hour for the two heaters is 1.5. 

Heater wattage: 750-watts

Number of heaters in the room: 2

Total wattage being used: 1500-watts

Electricity being used per hour: 1.5 kW

Based on the above equation, 

kW x electric rate = total cost/hour

kW = 1.5 kW

Electric rate = $0.08 per kW

1.5 kW x $0.08 = $0.12/hour

Full Day usage: $0.12 x 24 hours = $2.88

In this case, it would cost you $0.12 per hour to use the two heaters or approximately $2.88 to run them constantly for 24 hours. It is important to note that this is an extremely simplified way to estimate your cost of running the heaters. In some states electric rates can vary based on the time of day or can increase once you reach a certain kW threshold per month.

It's also safe to assume that your heater will not be running constantly most of the time. Your thermostat will check the room temperature a few times per hour -- the actual frequency depends on your individual thermostat. If the thermostat senses that the room has reached the set temperature, it will tell the heaters to turn off and will remain off until the thermostat determines the room temperature fell below the set temperature.

Cadet cost

Additional considerations and see the impact of running the heater on the total cost.

For example, if the outside temperature is 20° F and you want it to be 70° F inside, your heater may run for an hour straight. If it is  45° F outside and you want it to be 55° F inside, your heater may only run for 20 minutes in an hour. In this case, your overall electricity usage is reduced by ⅓ resulting in the same reduction on your cost. 

While the actual cost may be different to the estimates you make, keeping these questions in mind will give you an educated idea of how much it will cost you to run your heating system. Make sure to have the right wattage heater for your room and consider upgrading to an electronic thermostat for optimum energy savings. As Kerri mentioned in the opening video, having your heater wired to a thermostat will only turn on the heater when heat is needed in the room.

Check out Cadets Electric Thermostats to lower the cost of your heating bills!