Space heaters used to be clunky plugins that squatted on the floor
and scared the fluff off your cat. No more â€” these 5 space heaters are
1. Radiant heating
radiant heat panel â€” the mirror and towel bar on the left â€” is so
integrated into this bathroom that you may not even notice it.Â Â Image: Warmly Yours
Youâ€™ve probably heard of radiant heating
for floors, created by snaking heating tubes or cables under floors.
But thatâ€™s not the only application for this efficient, quiet method of
heating. Manufacturers now produce radiant panels for walls, ceilings,
and other locations.
Radiant heat, also known as infrared radiant heat, is especially
efficient, heating solid objects such as chairs and people without
heating the air. The warming effect of radiant heat is practically instantaneous, and solid objects store the heat and stay warm even after the system switches off.
(Forced-air heating does the opposite, heating the air first, which
then eventually warms people and surfaces. When a forced-air system
shuts off, temperatures fall rapidly.)
Radiant panels come in many sizes, from a couple of square feet to 30
square feet and larger. Because no heat is lost in air ducts (there
arenâ€™t any), radiant panels are especially energy efficient, and the use
of supplemental radiant panels to selectively heat rooms helps reduce
annual energy costs by 10% to 30%.
Manufacturers make panels for nearly every situation. Baseboard
panels are ideal under desks or window seats. Cove panels fit at an
angle at the top of the wall, and ceiling panels attach nearly flush
against ceilings. Panels can be painted to blend in with room colors.To
heat an 11-by-11-foot room, youâ€™ll pay about $150 for a 2-by-2-foot,
free-standing, plug-in panel; $150-$250 for a hard-wired, 47-by-6-inch
cove ceiling panel with a wall-mounted thermostat. A licensed
electrician to wire a panel and install the thermostat control adds
2. Artistic space heating
the best heating solution for a specific situation is a fine art â€”
sometimes literally. A thin-film, infrared radiant panel made by Prestyl
USA hangs on a wall and looks just like artwork, custom-printed with a
design or photo you submit.
â€œWe just need a digital high-pixel image that you have the rights
to,â€ says the president, Thom Morrow. â€œSo no Seattle Seahawks logos. But
a portrait of the family, fine. Or dog or horse or the old family
These plug-in art panels project out from the wall just 1Â½ inches.
Inside is a carbon-based material that absorbs energy when current
passes through. The panel then releases the energy as infrared light
An artistic panel isnâ€™t cheap, but you can take into account what you
might spend on equivalent artwork. Prestylâ€™s plain 2-by-2-foot panel,
suitable for an 8-by-10-foot room, costs $352, plus $180 if you want an
image, or a total of $6.65 per square foot of living space.
3. Off-peak heating systems
If you heat with electricity and live where electrical rates are lower at off-peak hours, an electrical thermal storage heater could save you money.
This kind of heater consists of a well-insulated shell filled with
ceramic bricks that efficiently absorb and store heat. The bricks heat
up during hours when power rates are low, then release the heat, using a
blower, when the rate rises, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars
Al Takle, national sales manager for Steffes Corp., says the units only make sense where rates dip for part of the day. Whereâ€™s that? He listed:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
Thermal storage heaters sit on the floor and are about 12 inches
deep, 24 inches high, and 30 to 60 inches long. They require only a
little clearance on sides and the top, so you can easily build them into
bookcases or window seats. Costs range from $1,200 (for a small bedroom
or office) to $2,200 (for a 1,000-square-foot, open living room and
kitchen space), or $2-$12 per square foot of living area.
4. Ductless heat pump
youâ€™re looking to retrofit an older home that doesnâ€™t have ductwork, or
youâ€™re adding on and tying into your existing HVAC system is
problematic, a ductless heat pump could be the answer.
Developed in Japan 30 years ago, many heating contractors in the U.S. are just now learning about this option, also known as a mini-split.
There are only two main components: an outdoor compressor unit and an
indoor air handler, which is typically installed high on an outside
A small tube delivers conditioned air directly to the room. Because
thereâ€™s no long expanse of ductwork, ductless heat pumps operate up to
50% more efficiently than traditional forced-air systems.
The installed price is around $5,000 for equipment that handles 1,100
square feet, or $5.45 per square foot of living space. Many power
companies offer rebate incentives, sometimes for as much as $1,500, to customers who switch from other kinds of electrical heating.
5. The Dyson Hot fan heater
a floor-model space heater thatâ€™s out of this world, look to Dyson â€”
the company that seems to delight in reinventing ordinary household
The Dyson Hot fan heater
looks like a space creature that never got around to developing a face.
It generates heat like any other electrical-resistance heater, but
thereâ€™s no visible whirling fan, so you donâ€™t have to worry about
whether a curious kid will stick in a finger to see what happens.
Even though you donâ€™t see a fan, the heater does blow out a steady
stream of warm air. The heater pushes air over its curved surfaces to
increase output, much the same way an airplane wing accelerates air
flow. The fan head oscillates, and you can tilt the device to direct the
The Hot fan costs $400 and is suitable for small to medium-size
rooms, or about $4 per square foot of living space for a 10-by-10-foot