10 Ways to Efficiently Heat and Cool Small Spaces

Efficient heating and cooling of space save energy and money. Luckily, you don’t need expensive traditional heating and cooling systems to efficiently heat and cool small spaces. These are pretty powerful and will quickly overheat a small space.

So how can you efficiently heat and cool spaces? There are several options. Below are ten permanent and portable solutions for heating and cooling small spaces.

1. Mini-Split Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

Currently, no permanent HVAC solution for small spaces is more popular than mini-split HVAC units. They’re a perfect option that provides heating and cooling capabilities in a small setup.

How to Efficiently Heat and Cool Small Spaces

Heat ducts lose a lot of heat (25% to 40%) via the duct system. This is pretty inefficient and an unnecessary wastage of fuel. On the other hand, mini-splits don’t need any ductwork to provide heat. They do it directly, resulting in less fuel usage. This is not only better for your pocket, but the environment too.

Mini-split systems are great for small rooms and apartments. Since you mount the unit on the wall, it makes them great space savers because they won’t take up any floor space within your already compact setup.

Additionally, mini splits replace the need for separate window AC units, saving you more space. Therefore, you don’t have to look for a place to store another unit once winter is here.

In addition to a mini-split HVAC system’s efficiency in heating and cooling, it comes with modern electronics features, including remote control, a built-in dehumidifier, and a timer. Of course, you’ll never have such conveniences with other heating options such as an underfloor heater or a fireplace.

A mini-split is relatively inexpensive compared to other permanent heating and cooling options. Though you must have an HVAC technician do it for you, it doesn’t involve extensive installation.

Granted, mini-splits aren’t the cheapest option for heating and cooling small spaces. However, they may be the most effective and efficient option in the long run.

2. Electric Panel Heaters

An electric panel heater is another great option to heat small spaces. These low-watt heaters feature several advantages, one being affordability. Indeed, you can purchase an electric panel heater from your local home goods stores for as little as $100, or even less.

In addition, once you acquire an electric panel heater, you don’t need any special skills or help from an HVAC technician to install it. All you have to do for the heater to start working is plug it in. And since most come in low wattages, an electric panel heater is cheap to operate.

An electric panel heater is a perfect choice for heating small spaces. That’s because it hardly takes up any space. It also heats up quite fast. These two qualities make these electric heaters ideal for small spaces, especially in areas that don’t get extremely cold.

3. Wood Fireplaces

A wood fireplace is a great way to heat a small space quickly and add character to your small apartment. It’s also a permanent small space heating solution.

The good news is that heating your small space with wood is quite inexpensive. Better yet, it’s free for those with readily available wood at their homes.

The only disadvantage of heating a small space with a wood fireplace is the cost of installation. It can be pretty expensive. Also, in some places, installing one in an apartment is illegal or impossible.

Remember, you need a chimney for the heater. That means for a small apartment, you must be on the top floor.

Consider a wood-burning stove too. It’s a viable heating option for small spaces too.

While these are old-fashioned ways, they can go a long way in cozying up your space. All you need is to load your fireplace or wood-burning stove.

4. Gas Space Heaters

Small spaces also have spots that can be colder than others. This is where a small space heater, especially a gas heater, comes in. Propane or natural gas space heaters burn cleaner than kerosene, making them a better alternative than kerosene heaters.

In most cases, running a gas space heater doesn’t require electricity. This is good news because your small space heater will work even amidst a power outage.

If you live in areas where natural gas is abundant, purchase a gas space heater to run with this gas. You can also use propane gas- it’s widely available throughout the country.

Gas space heaters are pocket-friendly, costing less than $150. Besides, they’re small, thus ideal for small apartments. Since they burn clean, you don’t have to worry about cleaning the gas space heater’s components or changing its filters every time you run it.

On top of all these benefits, portable gas space heaters can generate a lot of heat within a short time. You’ll also enjoy the scene of live fire as it warms your small space up.

warm home in winter

5. Electric Underfloor Heaters

An electric underfloor heater is an ideal heating solution for a small space. You can install the heater underneath carpeting, ceramic floors, or laminate floors.

This home heater is quite comfortable as it heats your small apartments from the floor up.

The good news is that electric underfloor heaters don’t consume much power. For instance, an electric underfloor heater will only use about 180 watts if you live in a small space of 6 by 3 feet. This is a minimal amount of power.

Another benefit of heating a small space with an underfloor heater is that the heat it radiates off spreads uniformly throughout your small house. Rising from the floor upwards means you’ll have no cold space left out within your home.

Also, nobody likes a noisy heater. But as this underfloor heating is on the floor, it operates quietly and unobtrusively, taking up minimal space.

It’s worth mentioning that although these heaters are not expensive, installing them can be costly. You either have to pull up your flooring or install another flooring over your existing one after laying your heating mat.

6. Ethanol Fireplaces

An ethanol fireplace is a small fireplace that runs on a bio-ethanol liquid or gel fuel. You can get yourself one of these fireplaces and install it in your small space.

They’re a great option, providing a clean-burning fire. Besides, ethanol fireplaces don’t require ventilation. You’ll hear people saying running an ethanol fireplace is just like running a candle, which shows how clean this solution can be.

The fact that ethanol fireplaces produce live flames means you’ll need another heater for your small space to use while asleep or away for safety reasons.

7. Gas Fireplaces

Instead of using a wood fireplace, you can go for a gas one. This is a great alternative that comes with more convenience because you’ll not have to add fuel manually now and then.

In addition, a gas fireplace doesn’t produce ash and smoke like a wood fireplace. It’s also easier to vent.

But remember, you must hook a gas fireplace to a gas line. Therefore, installation can be a bit more expensive than a wood fireplace. In addition, it might not be legal to install one in your small apartment.

8. Electric Fan Heaters

Electric fan heaters heat a small space by blowing hot air around your apartment through fans. The heater is usually more powerful than an electric wall heater. Regardless of the size, an electric fan heater will operate at high watts (over 1500).

An electric fan heater is cheap. The good news is that you can even purchase it like a fireplace model. This is good for aesthetic purposes. Moreover, you can use a remote control to operate it.

However, you should note that running an electric fan heater can be expensive. Additionally, the heater gets so hot that it can damage a child, pet, or anything else near it. So, you must keep them away from the electric fan heater at all times.

9. Kerosene Heaters

Another great option to heat a small space is a kerosene heater. These heaters are extremely portable and produce a lot of heat.

Though kerosene heaters will go a long way in heating your small apartment, be wary of their drawbacks.

Remember, they produce a live flame which can deprive a small space of oxygen. This means ventilation is necessary if you must use one.

Many apartments will not allow kerosene heaters too. Besides, you might have one but lack fuel to run it. Kerosene is not only becoming costly but rare to find with each passing year too.

Cleaning kerosene heaters and replacing their wicks is also costly.

10. Cooling Options for a Small Space

Apart from heating, you may require to cool your small space, especially during summer. Some of the options available for small apartments include:

  • Mini-split system: As discussed above, mini-split HVAC units have cooling capabilities alongside heating ones.
  • Using a PTAC unit. Make sure you use a PTAC of the right size to adequately cool your space.
  • Window air conditioner: A window AC will go a long way in cooling your small space. Whether it’s a small apartment, room, or house, window ACs make a great, reliable, efficient, and cost-effective cooling option. Luckily, they take no additional space in your small apartment. The good news is that there are window air conditioners with heat that you can use for year-round climate control for your small apartment.
  • Wall air conditioner: Wall air conditioners will also cool your small space. Just like window ACs, they don’t sacrifice space as they run through your apartment wall.
  • Opening your windows.
  • Using oscillating fans.

Wrap Up

When it comes to heating and cooling a small space, there are many options at your disposal. Of course, many factors will go into determining the one you choose for your small apartment, including ownership, budget, preferences, and your local climate. More important is to make your small space cozy with heat or AC.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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