One way to save on your winter energy bill is to keep the thermostat set to this temperature. Another is with a space heater. These inexpensive appliances aren't just a means of staving off literal cold feet during the winter months, a space heater can trim serious money from your energy bill by reducing your reliance on a centralized, whole-home heat and creating cozy, ambient heat in whatever room you're actually occupying.
If you're someone who shares space with a perpetually overheated person, a quality space heater can also help create your own personal comfort zone without threatening your space mates with hot flashes. If cold feet are specifically what you're trying to avoid, a space heater can ensure that you never have to get out of the bed or shower without a toasty landing pad.
Space heaters come in several varieties, the easiest being electric models that simply plug into the wall and start delivering heat via a number of various mechanisms. And if you're wondering if space heaters are safe to use, the answer is yes, if used properly. However, there is some risk of fire so we encourage you to read this space heater safety guide before you plug one in. Below, we've rounded up the best space heater models for 2023 for all of your ambient heat needs this season.
Read more: Ready to Pull Out Your Space Heater? Here's How Much It'll Cost You
Vornado's models topped just about every best list out there where space heaters are concerned, so you can't go wrong with a variety of Vornado products, no matter your space or heat needs this season, with the VH2 being its most consistently singled-out performer. This whole-room space heater circulates heated air throughout a medium-size room, like a furnace in miniature, maintaining a consistent temperature without a significant space requirement. It is reported to be among the quietest models available, with several users remarking that it was quiet enough to sleep with while operating. Its plastic exterior stays comparatively cool to the touch, making it among the safest bets for households with pets and children. Vornado also offers a 5-year support term, making it easy to address technical issues should any arise.
- Size: 9.5 by 11.8 by 11.9 in. (DWH)
- Heat element: Forced air
- Additional features: Tip-over protection, 2 settings, adjustable thermostat
At a fraction of the space imprint of the Vornado model above, and about a third of the cost, Lasko's Ceramic Heater 754200 is an excellent starting place if you're still in a trial mindset where a space heater is concerned. Lasko also had a preponderance of mentions for several models among review sites. Its compact size is better suited to smaller spaces such as small bedrooms or home offices, or even desktop or counter use rather than an entire room. If you live with a perpetually warm person, as mentioned above, this may be an ideal model for creating different heat zones within the same room. Otherwise, users report that it warms up quickly and reliably -- ideal for helping you get out of bed on a chilly morning -- and its lightweight nature makes it especially easy to move around the house with you as your additional heat needs dictate.
- Size: 6 by 3.7 by 9.2 in. (DWH)
- Heat element: Ceramic
- Additional features: Overheat protection, 3 settings including fan-only, adjustable thermostat
While the previous two models were the most singled-out among product testing sites, this Honeywell model had one of the highest user ratings on retailers' sites. The feature here that significantly sets it apart from every other model is its 360 degrees of air circulation, relying on top and bottom vents to pull in air, in order to circulate warm air around its circumference. Several users mentioned that because of its multidirectional airflow, it made it especially useful for bedroom use to create ambient warmth in a medium-size space without an intense, one-directional flow.
- Size: 8 by 8 by 11.5 in. (DWH)
- Heat element: Forced air
- Additional features: Overheat and tip-over protection, 2 settings, adjustable thermostat
While several space heaters here have a fan-only option for cooling during the warmer months, Dyson offers one of the few models that not only has both of these features but works as a HEPA air purifier as well. Dyson's products typically demand a higher price, and this is no exception, but it is perhaps worth it, given its one-and-done functionality and sleek design. This dual model had the highest user satisfaction rating among retailer sites, with many people pointing out that it was especially ideal for allergy sufferers, as well as lauding its year-round utility.
- Size: 6 by 8.7 by 24.9 in. (DWH)
- Heat element: Oscillating forced air
- Additional features: Tip-over protection, HEPA air purifier, sleep timer, 10 settings
Tower-style space heaters, and especially those that oscillate like this DeLonghi Ceramic Tower Heater model, are some of the best options for heating a large space such as a larger bedroom or living room. Their radiant heat is capable of reaching more space both vertically and horizontally because of its size and functionality. This model also had one of the highest user ratings among retail sites, with many users mentioning how quiet it ran, and singling out the utility of the remote control and digital display, which is a less-common feature among the space heaters I researched. Several also commented how this space heater felt like it was capable of heating the whole room, rather than just delivering heat to its immediate surroundings.
- Size: 7.5 by 8.7 by 23.6 in. (DWH)
- Heat element: Ceramic
- Additional features: ECO Energy Saving Mode, remote control, timer, overheat and tip-over protection
Good news for those with mid-century decor who can't bear the thought of an industrial appliance interrupting their curated look. Vornado's VHeat Vintage Metal Heater manages to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional, called out by basically every review site I considered. Again, Vornado's products overall tended to top the lists of best space heaters, and this model is more than just attractive, functioning accordingly, with users reporting it delivered sufficient heat to a small space on both its low and high settings.
- Size: 13.7 by 11 by 8.7 in. (HWD)
- Heat element: Forced air
- Additional features: Tip-over protection and safety shut off
Of all the rooms in your house, none are as disappointing when overly chilly as your bathroom. Who wants to get out of a hot shower on a cold day and be greeted with the rude awakening of arctic air on wet skin? You can't put just any space heater in the bathroom, however, which adds additional safety considerations because of the moisture element. Among those that are specifically designed to be bathroom-safe, this Dreo model was the clear winner, not to mention Amazon's best seller in space heaters overall because of its versatility and price. The Dreo DR-HSH004A is equipped with a special safety plug that cuts the power immediately upon contact with water, and its small footprint makes it ideal for one of the smallest rooms in your house with the biggest heat needs.
- Size: 10.3 by 6.7 by 5.5 in. (HWD)
- Heat element: Forced air and convection
- Additional features: Eco mode, tip-over and overheat protection, ALCI safety plug, remote control
How we tested space heaters
Our list of space heaters was aggregated from numerous review sites for those models that were most frequently mentioned, as well as best-selling models at major retailers such as Amazon, Target, Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond. I researched the space heaters in this list by analyzing specs and user reviews, diving deep for mentions of persistent issues, and considering the available features and functionality compared to price as a measure of each model's overall value. I focused primarily on those models that had extremely high user ratings, typically 4.5 and above with at least 1,000 ratings.
While I didn't bring every model home and perform extensive hands-on testing, I was able to examine most models in person to get a feel for the design, footprint and intuitiveness of its controls.
Space heaters compared
||Vornado VH2||Lasko Ceramic 754200||Honeywell HHF360V||Dyson HP01||DeLonghi Tower||Vornado VHEAT Vintage||Dreo DR-HSH004A|
|Heat element||Forced air||Ceramic||Forced air||Forced air, oscillating||Ceramic, oscillating||Forced air||Forced air, oscillating|
|Additional features||None||None||None||Sleep timer, HEPA Air Purifier||Timer, remote control, ECO mode||Adjustable head||Remote control, safety plug, ECO mode|
|Dimensions, (DxWxH, inches)||9.5 x 11.8 x 11.9||6 x 3.7x 9.2||8 x 8 x 11.5||6 x 8.7 x 24.9||7.5 x 8.7 x 23.6||13.7 x 11 x 8.7||10.3 x 6.7 x 5.5|
|Energy draw||750W/1,500W||900W/1,500W||1,500W||Not available||1,500W||750W/1,500W||900W/1,000W/1500W|
Space heater buying advice
Space heater price
Most electric space heaters that operate solely in that function, (and not as a dual air purifier, for instance,) are priced below $150, with many models on this list costing less than $100. Several smaller, well-regarded budget models may even run you less than $50. The size of the unit, additional features, number of settings and heating element all contribute to the overall cost of a space heater.
Space heater size
There are no standard sizes or shapes for electric space heaters, and most of the space heaters I researched did not specify the square footage for coverage, other than to mention its capacity to heat a "small to medium" space or to specify room types such as a bedroom or office. Space heaters may be indicated as tabletop, floor, or bathroom models, and many also come as tall but narrow "tower" models, which may or may not oscillate, that have a smaller footprint and therefore a smaller horizontal space requirement.
Types of space heaters
While this list consists only of electric space heaters, (as opposed to water- or oil-heated models,) there are several different mechanisms that electric space heaters may utilize to create heated air.
Fan-forced: Fan-forced space heaters circulate air by pulling it into the unit, and passing it over a heating element, typically metal coils, expelling the heated air through exhaust vents in the unit.
Infrared: Infrared bulbs are those which convert electricity into radiant heat. This is the least common type among the space heaters we included here, but no less effective.
Ceramic: Ceramic space heaters utilize electricity to heat a ceramic plate within the unit, which then emits radiant heat into the air, with or without the additional use of a fan.
Space heater FAQs
Are space heaters a fire hazard?
The simple answer is: Yes, a space heater can be a fire hazard, and therefore is an appliance that must be utilized correctly and with caution. (Please read our guide on How to Safely Run Your Space Heater for more information. Most space heater fires are the result of user error and not a malfunctioning machine.) Most space heaters, and all that we have included in our list, have certain safety features built in, such as tip-over or overheating protection to reduce the risk of fire or injury. This doesn't eliminate all the risk of having a space heater in your home, however, especially if your household has children or pets.
How do space heaters work?
Space heaters work by emitting heated air in the immediate area, heating a small to medium-size space without needing to use a central heating system. Space heaters work via several possible mechanisms, typically either radiant heat with a ceramic heating unit, or fan-forced, which utilizes air circulation, or both. Infrared space heaters are also available, though less common. While we have focused here on electric space heaters, since they are the most abundant for home use, there are also space heater models that utilize a liquid such as water or oil to produce ambient heat.
How effective is a space heater?
Space heaters typically receive positive reviews from those who use them, and while most of the space heaters I studied did not specify a coverage area, a well-functioning space heater should provide sufficient heat to its immediate area to be able to lower the thermostat on your central heating system. The effectiveness of a space heater is largely a personal perception since it depends on the initial conditions of the space you are trying to heat. Larger rooms with high ceilings and an open plan may be more difficult to heat overall than small spaces that can be enclosed, as are spaces that are colder or damper to begin with than those that get an assist from direct sunlight.
Where is the best place to put a space heater?
Your space heater model should include instructions on placement for best use, but typically a space heater should be placed within an enclosed area that you are trying to heat, such as near a desk or chair that you are occupying, or on a table or counter top where you are working. Space heaters should never be placed against a wall, blocking an entryway, near any flammable fabrics such as curtains, or any place where moisture is a threat, except for models that are specifically designed for bathroom use.
Are space heaters energy efficient?
Currently, the US Environmental Protection Agency does not evaluate space heaters for its Energy Star certification. While various space heaters utilize differing amounts of energy depending on their size and output setting, if you're utilizing a space heater to reduce reliance on your central heating system by heating only the room or area you are occupying, many sites have noted that this is an effective way to reduce your energy costs in colder months.