Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?

As households are looking to cut heating costs at home, we compare fan heater vs oil heater to see which is cheaper to run. 

It’s that time of the year when people have switched their heating on. But with energy prices predicted to rise in the coming months, households are looking to find ways to save on energy bills by using less gas and electricity and are taking extra caution when it comes to putting the heating on

Portable heaters are a popular choice for households looking to keep warm, but which is more efficient? We test a fan heater vs oil heater to find out. 

And if you’re thinking about switching energy to save on bills, see our energy comparison article for the cheapest deals and what you need to consider. 

Fan heaters

How much does it cost to run a fan heater?

A fan heater works by using a fan that blows air over a heat source. They’re compact, lightweight and easy to carry. The average price for a fan heater is anywhere between £10 to £50. 

The cost of running a fan heater can depend on several factors. This includes the size of your fan heater and how much energy it uses, how well-insulated your home is and how often you use the fan heater. 

We’ve compared the costs of different-sized fan heaters if you use them every day. Note that the calculations are based on the January price cap electricity rate of 29p per kWh.

Type of fan heater Cost to run per hour Cost to run every day for five hours Cost per week (running it five hours a day)
700W fan heater £0.20 £1 £7
2000W fan heater £0.58 £2.90 £20.30

How to use a fan heater efficiently

There are a few ways you can make the most of your fan heater: 

  • The size of your room. If you have a big room or high ceilings, it will be harder to warm the room with a fan heater as it will require more energy to heat a bigger space. So judge the size of the room you are heating and make sure a fan heater is a cost-effective way of heating it. 
  • Reduce the temperature. Make use of the thermostatic control feature to control the temperature. This can also reduce your electricity usage if you put your heater at a lower temperature.
  • The insulation you have in place. The last thing you want when the heater is on is for the heat to be lost in seconds. A fan heater will be a lot more effective if your insulation levels are good, which means there’s less chance of heat being lost from windows or walls. If you’re looking to get your home better insulated, check to see if you qualify for any government grants under the Great British Insulation Scheme, like ones for loft and cavity wall insulation.

Fan heaters give off short-term heat, so the minute you put it on it will heat the room, but once you switch it off the heat will disappear. If you want to heat a room temporarily, then a fan heater is a good idea but if you want to maintain the heat in the room, a fan heater isn’t your answer. You might be better off turning the central heating on.

If you do choose to put the fan heater on, there are small things you can do to ensure you keep the heat in, for example, keep the doors closed so the heat doesn’t escape, you can get door draught excluders, and even put curtains in so less heat is lost through the windows.  

Oil heaters

How much does it cost to run an oil heater?

Oil heaters are a bit more expensive than fan heaters to buy. They work by using an electrical element that warms the thermal oil inside the appliance.  

Designed like a radiator, these heaters are known for retaining heat for longer. Most modern oil heaters also come with a thermostat so you can control how warm it gets. 

To give you an idea of how much it costs to run an oil heater, we’ve compared a few below. These are calculated based on the average January price cap electricity rate of 29p per kWh.

Type of oil heater Cost to run per hour Cost to run every day for five hours Cost per week (running it five hours a day)
650W oil heater £0.19 £0.95 £6.65
1500W oil heater £0.43 £2.15 £15.05
2500W oil heater £0.72 £3.60 £25.20

How to use an oil heater efficiently

Here’s how you can make the most of your oil heater: 

  • Reduce the temperature: Use the thermostat control to reduce your electricity use. Choose low power settings so that the heater doesn’t get too hot.
  • Switch it off as soon as room is warm: Oil heaters have good heat retention, so even after stopping it will give off heat.  
  • Set a timer: Set a timer every time you’re using it so that you keep control of how long it is running. Plus, this way if you’re not in the room or fall asleep, it shuts off automatically. 

Oil heaters have good heat retention. So when you switch the oil heater off, it takes a while to cool the oil down which means even when it’s off the heater is still giving off heat. This means less energy is required to heat a room, further cutting your energy costs.

But be mindful that oil heaters only provide a short-term solution, so if you’re trying to maintain the heat in a room for more than a couple of hours, it could be better to flick the central heating on. 

Fan heater vs oil heater: which is cheaper?

Both fan heaters and oil heaters have similar running costs. The only difference is that an oil heater is typically more expensive to buy than a fan heater. 

However, oil heaters could work out to be cheaper if you consider the residual heat after turning it off. This means you only need to use the oil heater for a shorter time, thus in turn reducing your energy costs and lowering your energy bill

So if you’re able to pay a bit more for an oil heater, it will be cheaper in the long run. Other benefits of oil heaters are that they are safer to use and they don’t make the air dry like fan heaters. 

If you are investing in a new heater, make sure that your house has good insulation to retain more heat. Here are a few energy-saving tips to keep in mind. 

More energy saving tips