iHeater: Don't believe the claims

iHeater blows "hot air"

The iHeater website ( if you want a laugh) opens with "Save up to 50% on your heating bills".  It's funny how they cite no technical evidence of this fact.  Why?  Because it's not true.  I might as well sell a heater and say, "Save 99% on your heating bills!".  It seems gullible customers love outrageous claims. If you are looking to buy one of these expensive space heaters, don't be suckered in because it's an "infrared" heater.

An iHeater may save you money, but it will do so the same way any space heater saves you money!  And it won't save you 50% on your heating bills.  They claim that you will save money because you are heating a space instead of your whole home.  But chances are you will want to have heat in more than one room!

Doubt me?  Well, how would you feel if Consumer Reports weighed in on space heaters that sound too good to be true?  Lucky for you they have when Consumer Reports wrote a review on the Edenpure heater (which is very similar to the iHeater):

For every degree that you lower your home thermostat in the winter, you'll save about 3 percent on heating costs. So the only way to really save with a space heater would be to use the unit in the room you're in and turn down the thermostat elsewhere in the house so that your main heating system would not operate. To save 50 percent on your heating bill, you'd have to lower the home thermostat about 17°F. Also, based on national average fuel prices, using an electric space costs more than twice as much to operate as a natural-gas-fueled central-heating system.

I referenced the Consumer Reports article when I wrote about the Edenpure heater for Mapawatt.  Along with the post we wrote on Edenpure, we also wrote about Sunheat heater (Sunheat/Edenpure/iHeater are all expensive heaters that promise way too much).  And according to this comment on the iHeater on, not only does the iHeater make bogus claims, they also have a no-exchange policy and poor customer service.

I don't know about you, but I'm not about to be suckered into paying too much for a product that has poor customer service and won't live up to its claims.  But hey, if you have no other way to heat your home, try it out and let us know how it works for you.

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One aspect where these types of heaters are useful is in a basement like mine. We have a large basement, it's really two huge rooms. One is a laundry/craft area that needs not be heated, the other is a large family/rec room/theater. By using the Edenpure heater in the theater area, and only when we are there using it, we can keep the basement almost completely closed off from the furnace. There are no thermostats downstairs, there is no return air vent. We keep the vents cracked open ever so slightly (we are in Iowa) to keep it tolerable, but, for the most part, the furnace is only heating the main floor of our house. The basement theater area is only heated when we're in it. The rest of the basement is fine at a very cool 50-55 degrees.
Go get 'em, Chris :-) However, it's true that electric heaters can save energy overall. I work in my home office -- the programmable thermostat lets the house cool off during the day so if my beat up old wool sweater's not enough, I close the doors and fire up the electric heater long enough to keep my fingers flexible enough to type :-). But then I started thinking... If you're concerned about climate change, you (and I) would be better off adding a separate heating zone to your house. Heating with electricity is "100% efficient" at turning electrical power into heat, so if the heater draws 2000W, then you're getting that much power as heat. <strong>However</strong> when looked at from a lifecycle perspective, electricity is about 31% efficient (dig up coal, transport it, burn it up, boil water, turn turbine, generate electricity, transmit to your house -- 69% of energy from fuel, etc. is lost in this process). So, my 2000W heater actually consumes 6450W of power. Now consider my normal heat source, which is a natural gas burning furnace, which is about 80% efficient. If I heated my office this way I would need 2500W of power to get the same amount of heat -- that's 2.6x more efficient! Final calculation: my electricity is generated by coal, which emits 2x the CO2 as natural gas, so using electricity contributes more than 5x the CO2 as natural gas for the same amount of heat. Dialing the plumber now to see if I can afford a new zone! Tom
ckmapawatt's picture
You're right on Tom. I think breaking the home into smaller zones AND having a central heating system that can vary the heat output based on how many zones need heating (plus dampers to direct the heat) is the most efficient way to go.
"So the only way to really save with a space heater ..." Heh! I have some relatives (by marriage) who put their space heater near their thermostat. So the heater kept the thermostat nice and toasty, so it didn't feel the need to run the furnace! They were really confused about why the rest of their house got so cold when the space heater was on until this was pointed out to them - but it is possible that the space heater saved them money :-) I regularly see ads for heaters like this. It annoys me intensely that the level of basic science education is so poor that enough people fall for scams like this for the manufacturers to make a living selling these things.
ckmapawatt's picture
Great point Tony. I think one of the issues is that energy "saving" from a product like this are so hard to verify, so the companies know they can make outrageous claims. And the public has a perception that if it is expensive, it must work. In general, the public is clueless on energy issues, this is why this blog (and others like it) are able to come up with post ideas!


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