How much does an infrared heater cost to run? In this article, we’re going to check the average infrared heater’s running cost, by running time, location, electricity rate, and usage.
After checking the cost, we will have a look at how to reduce the cost to run your infrared heater.
We will also check whether a thermostat will really help reduce infrared heater running cost and I will recommend you the infrared heater I think is best!
Quick answer: An infrared heater costs $57.60 a month given it runs on full power for 8 hours a day. However, in reality, infrared heaters shut off occasionally (to prevent overheating) and their directional heat output allows you to reduce the heat settings while feeling the same heat. Factoring in these infrared-specific advantages results in a 20-40% decrease in electricity cost.
The running cost of an infrared heater depends only on two factors. They are power consumption and electricity rate.
Theoretically, all you have to do to get your infrared heater’s running cost is to multiply your home’s running cost by your infrared heater’s power consumption.
Luckily, I did all the maths for you!
But let’s first check the power infrared heaters use!
How much power do infrared heaters use?
In the US, the average infrared heater consumes 1,500W of power. In Europe and in the UK you can find infrared heaters with >2,000W.
The reason for the US-average power rating being lower is that US households run on 120V of power (instead of 230V).
Additionally, a lot of home circuits can handle no more than 15A. Above that, circuit breakers trip.
120V × 15A = 1,800W
So, the upper limit for electric devices in the US is 1,800W. And that’s why space heaters tend to be 1,500W.
They could theoretically be 1,800W, but then you’d be operating them at the edge of possibility. And you could not run a single additional device simultaneously. You could not even charge your phone, since this would overload the circuit.
In Europe and the UK, electronic devices can consume up to
230V × 15A = 3450W
which sets the limit for heating capabilities a lot higher!
There are also smaller infrared heaters available. Some models use only 800W or 1,000W.
What’s your electricity rate?
The other factor determining how much your infrared heater costs to run is your electricity rate.
Your location usually determines your electricity rate. In some US states, the electricity rate is much lower than in others. And, of course, the electricity rate varies by country as well.
Here’s a list of average electricity rates in the US:
Average electricity rates
Here’s a list of all US states and their current average electricity rate. The data is from the US Energy Information Administration.
|State||Electricity rate (in Cents per kWh)|
|District of Columbia||15.47|
The average electricity rate in the EU is 25 Euro-Cents per kWh.
In the UK, the current average electricity rate is 52p per kWh.
In Canada, the average rate is 0.16 CAD per kWh, which is $0.12.
As you see, electricity prices vary heavily by location.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it unless you move. But moving just for the sake of a cheaper electricity rate is rarely an option.
In some states (and countries) the energy market is deregulated. Effectively, this means that you can switch energy providers, which offer different electricity rates.
However, the savings are usually marginal.
How much do infrared heaters cost to run?
Now that we know how much power infrared heaters consume and we know your electricity rate, let’s have a look at how much an infrared heater would cost you.
Infrared heater running cost by running duration
In this table, I calculated the running cost of an average 1,500W infrared heater using the US average electricity rate of 16 cents per kWh.
|Running duration||Infrared heater running cost|
|1 week (8 hours a day)||$13.44|
|1 week (24 hours a day)||$40.32|
|1 month (8 hours a day)||$57.60|
|1 month (24 hours a day)||$172.80|
Infrared heater running cost by location
|Location||Electricity rate (in $/kWh)||Hourly running cost (in $)||Monthly running cost (8h per day)|
For comparability, I converted all the electricity rates to US-Dollar.
Electricity rates in the US and Canada are very different than in Europe and the UK.
Why these calculations are off
The tables above show the average running cost of a 1,500W infrared heater running at full power for a specific time.
Most infrared heaters, however, don’t run at 1,500W continuously. That’s just the maximum power usage. Usually, infrared heaters cut off the heating to prevent overheating either due to a built-in thermostat or overheat protection.
In this case, you would have to factor into the cost calculation that your infrared heater runs only part-time. This would decrease the average power consumption from 1,500W to, say, 1,000W.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case for all heaters. Some models, especially old ones, don’t have a built-in temperature control mechanism.
And even for the infrared heaters that shut off occasionally, you can’t really unify the power usage numbers since most heaters use different heat control algorithms.
Continuous power usage of 1,500W is the high end of the spectrum.
I prefer to estimate a bit too-high cost than to estimate too low and get you a bad surprise when you get your electricity bill.
So, the values from the table above show the maximum cost to run an infrared heater.
How to account for a built-in thermostat
If your infrared heater has a built-in thermostat, you can estimate the power usage in the following way:
- Turn on your infrared heater at full power
- With a stopwatch, measure the time
- Wait until a heating element turns off (which would indicate an active temperature control) and note the time
- Note the time when the heating turns on again (you can usually hear a “clicking” sound)
- Stop the experiment after 5 minutes if your infrared heater doesn’t shut off
Now you know the fraction of running time where your infrared heater does not heat.
You can reduce your electricity cost by this fraction.
For example, if your infrared heater heats for 3 minutes and then turns on after the 4th minute, this means it is running only 75% of the time.
So, the average power usage of your infrared heater is
1,500W × 0.75 = 1,125W
Accordingly, assuming your monthly infrared heater running cost according to the table above is $57.60, you can expect a 25% cost reduction:
$57.60 × 0.75 = $43.20
Why infrared heaters cost less to run than other electric heaters
And that’s not even the end of the cost calculation! You can also factor in a very characteristic feature of infrared heaters!
Infrared heaters don’t distribute the heat evenly in all directions. Instead, they radiate the heat in just one direction.
Infrared heaters focus their heat. They have a directional heat distribution.
This means if you run an infrared heater in your room and you point it toward you, you will feel warmer than if you run an equivalent electric space heater that’s non-infrared.
Even if both heaters use 1,500W of power, the infrared heater will feel as if it is more powerful, because it focuses the heat radiation on you.
So, proper infrared heater placement largely affects your heater’s perceived efficiency!
But what does this have to do with the cost to run your infrared heater?
Well, if an infrared heater makes you feel warmer than another heater, then the following statement also has to be true:
You can reduce the heat setting of your infrared heater and it will feel the same as the heat coming from a comparable non-infrared 1,500W heater.
So, effectively, you can run your infrared heater at lower settings. You don’t need to run it at maximum capacity.
Some people claim that infrared heaters are up to 40% more efficient than other heaters. However, this is both technically incorrect and, I think, exaggerated.
What matters is how you use your infrared heater. If you run it at full power, you can expect the full bill.
If you run it at half power (because half power feels warm enough for you), you can cut your electricity bill calculation in half.
So, running an infrared heater at half power for 8 hours a day in the US would cost you $28.80 a month.
Which infrared heater is the cheapest to run?
My all-time favorite infrared heater is this Dr. Infrared Heater (click here to view it on amazon).
I particularly like that it’s made of solid wood, which has better longevity and a higher ignition temperature than most plastic materials.
This makes the Dr. Infrared heater extra safe.
Of course, it also comes with a built-in thermostat, where you can set your desired temperature and everything else you need in a heater.
I have to note one thing, which we can base on the findings of this article:
The Dr. Infrared heater is not necessarily cheaper to run than other infrared heaters. Yes, it has a built-in thermostat. And it radiates the heat in only one direction, which increases the perceived efficiency.
However, other infrared heater models do provide the same features. I only recommend the Dr. Infrared Heater because it’s such a trusted model.
But technically, all infrared heaters can heat your room just as well as long as they run on 1,500W.
How to reduce an infrared heater’s running cost
Now that you know the largest factors of your infrared heater’s electricity cost (electricity rate, power consumption, usage), here are some things you can do to make your infrared heater more efficient:
The most important efficiency advantage of infrared heaters over other types of heaters is their directional heat distribution. Make use of it!
Always place your infrared heater in a way that it faces you. The closer it is to you, the more heat you perceive. This, in turn, means that you can reduce the power settings.
You can also decrease your infrared heater’s running cost by reducing the amount of heat that leaves your room.
A simple door air draft stopper (click to view it on amazon) can have a significant impact on your energy bills! It’s a small one-off cost, which reduces your energy bills for years to come!
These one-time improvements that yield positive results forever are absolutely worth it! You can stick to this principle outside of heating as well!
Running an average 1,500W infrared heater for 8 hours a day in the US costs $57.60 in a month.
This calculation is based on the average electricity rate of 16 cents per kWh and an average power consumption of 1,500W.
Naturally, infrared heaters are more efficient than other types of heaters, which means you likely won’t need to run them at full power all the time!
You can reduce the power setting of your infrared heater, place it closer to you and perceive the same amount of heat.
You should factor this efficiency improvement through placement into the calculation.
Effectively, I would estimate a realistic electricity bill to be around $40 a month in the US.