Space Heater vs Furnace: Which is Best For Your Home?

Last Updated on December 11, 2021

space-heater-vs-furnaceAs temperatures warm up during the winter season, homeowners tend to crank up the heat one way or another. The majority of modern homes are heated by a furnace. However, space heaters have become quite popular in recent times and might come across as an attractive alternative. Therefore, the question of whether to use a space heater or a furnace may arise. We will explore the properties of each heating method, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.

Space Heaters

Electric Space Heater

Electric Space Heater       Image Credit: Tony Webster Flickr

Space heaters can either be fuel-based or electric. Depending on where you live, using a fuel-based combustion heater may be cheaper than using an electric heater.

Fuel-based heaters should be vented to prevent the toxic build-up of gases like carbon monoxide. Also, both electric and fuel-based heaters shouldn’t be tipped over since this creates a fire hazard. Both types of space heaters are ideal for heating small areas. If you just need to heat a small area like one room in your house, then a space heater will be more efficient than using a furnace. Space heaters are also great for providing additional heat to people who are sensitive to the cold, such as the sick or elderly, without having to turn up the temperature on a central heating system like a furnace.

Space heaters are more efficient than furnaces as long as they are just heating small areas. If you are using space heaters in multiple rooms, you might want to take a look at your energy bill. Using a furnace may be more economical in the long run.

Related article: 4 different types of space heaters


Gas Furnace

Gas Furnace,               Image Credit: Goodman GMS80804BN, Amazon

Furnaces are a very common form of central heating. They typically operate using fuels like natural gas, although electric furnaces do exist. They essentially heat intake air, which is then circulated throughout your house via vents. Furnaces are great at heating large areas. It would be very inefficient to turn off a furnace and try to heat all the rooms of your house with individual space heaters. If you have a couple or more rooms that are a little too cold for comfort, then you should consider turning up your furnace instead of employing multiple space heaters.

Safety is something that must be considered for both space heaters and furnaces. We touched on safety for space heaters but some precautions must be taken with furnaces, too. Fuel-based furnaces must be properly vented to avoid the indoor accumulation of gases like carbon monoxide, which are toxic to humans. What’s more, combustible materials shouldn’t be stored anywhere near your furnace. This may be tempting if your furnace is in an area where things are commonly stored. However, it isn’t worth the risk.

Maintenance is also important for furnace safety. A well-maintained furnace will prevent dangerous malfunctions, and keep your unit running as efficiently as possible.


Both space heaters and furnaces are useful. It just depends on how they’re being used. Space heaters are more efficient at heating small areas like one room in a house, while furnaces are more efficient at heating large areas. Space heaters can be combined with furnaces to boost the temperature of a small area which may not be adequately heated by a furnace.

If you have a furnace, then it is better to heat your entire house with it. Don’t ditch your furnace for a handful of space heaters since you’ll end up wasting energy. Each heating method has its merit and should be used when appropriate.