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The Cost To Run a Heat Lamp | Detailed Analysis

In this article, I’ll provide a detailed analysis of the cost of running a heat lamp. I’ll look at the upfront energy costs associated with running it and possible alternatives to a heat lamp.

The cost to run a heat lamp can range from a few cents to a few dollars per hour. The total depends on your lamp’s wattage, the electricity cost in your area, and how long you leave the lamp on. Nevertheless, heat lamps consume relatively low energy.

Now, let’s take a look at the details.

Chicks and ducklings in a yard under heat lamps

What Does It Cost To Run a Heat Lamp?

The cost to run a heat lamp varies depending on wattage and usage. For example, a 250-watt heat lamp will cost about $0.03 per hour, assuming a rate of $0.12 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). More powerful lamps require more energy and have higher running costs than those with lower watts.

It is challenging to estimate the actual cost of running a heat lamp because people use their lamps differently. For example, you may use a heat lamp for only 4 hours while another person will use it for 12 hours. Heat lamps will cost more to operate if they’re used for longer periods.

Important Considerations Before Running a Heat Lamp

You shouldn’t just consider the cost of running a heat lamp in terms of money. There are many other things you should know about heat lamps before using them.

Heat Lamps Don’t Guarantee Quality Lighting

Heat lamps can give off a decent amount of lighting for various purposes, such as raising chickens. They’re also an excellent addition to any home that requires artificial lighting. Still, they don’t give off the same kind of natural glow that a proper light fixture would. 

Heat Lamps Require a Substitute Heater for a Larger Room

If you intend to use a heat lamp for heating a larger room, you’ll have to look for a substitute heater. The heat generated by heat lamps can only reach a particular radius. It can provide a nice warm spot within a reasonable radius but won’t significantly heat up a larger room.

A heat lamp is only perfect for cold winter days when you need extra warmth in a small space. So, if you’re only looking for some extra heat in a specific area, heat lamps are a great option.

Heat Lamps Can Be an Excellent Heating Substitute

Consider running a heat lamp if you’re looking for a reasonably priced lighting or heating substitute for compacted spaces in your home. These lamps provide warmth in chilly bedrooms, bathrooms, and other tight areas.

Heat lamps come in various shapes and sizes, so you can find one that fits your needs perfectly. Plus, they are usually energy-efficient and help save on electricity bills in the long run. 

How Many Watts Does It Take To Run a Heat Lamp?

It takes between 125 and 250 watts to run most heat lamps. Although, most standard heat lamps use 250 watts. You can check the bulb’s packaging to find how many watts it uses. If you don’t have the box, the wattage should be somewhere on the lower part of the bulb.

Electric power meter

You’ll want to know how many watts the bulb uses so that you can match it to the heat lamp. If the wattages don’t match, it can cause damage to the lamp or even your electrical system. For instance, using a bulb with too high of wattage can cause overheating in the lamp.

Overall, the number of watts it takes to run your heat lamp can vary depending on the brand and model you have. You’ll need to make sure that you check the bulb and the lamp to ensure that they’re using the same amount of wattage.

Do Heat Lamps Consume a Lot of Electricity?

Heat lamps don’t consume a lot of electricity. Most heat lamps run on 250 watts, which uses about 0.25 kilowatts per hour while on. That means your lamp uses around 6 kilowatts per day if you let it run 24/7. However, you likely don’t leave it on that long, so it’s not using as much electricity.

I’ll break down how I got that number for you. Since most utility companies charge per kilowatt hour, you’ll need to figure out how much your heat lamp uses first. You can use this formula to make the conversion from watts to kilowatt-hours:

  • kWh = (watts × hrs) ÷ 1,000

Knowing how many watts it takes to run your heat lamp during the day will give you a better idea of the total cost. So, if you’re using the standard 250-watt heat lamp bulb, it would require 6 kilowatt-hours per day to run. You can take how many kilowatt hours your heat lamp uses and multiply that by the amount your utility company charges you.

Energy prices can vary greatly depending on where you live. Still, the average cost per kilowatt hour is about $0.16 in the US. Running your heat lamp all the time would cost about $0.96 daily or approximately $28.96 a month. Many other appliances cost more to run 24/7 than a heat lamp.

Heat lamps use less energy compared to many other appliances in your home. Plus, you can find plenty of bulbs with a lower watt rating if you need to lower the daily cost of running the lamp.

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How To Lower the Cost of Running a Heat Lamp

You can lower the cost of running a heat lamp by insulating properly, being mindful of maintenance, and switching off the heat lamp when it’s not in use. 

Follow the tips below to make the most of running your heat lamp while minimizing energy costs.

Properly Insulate Your Home

Proper insulation will help you save on energy. A suitably insulated home keeps the temperature constantly regulated.

On the other hand, poor insulation, especially with the infrared heat insulation option, makes a heat lamp work overtime to keep the temperature pleasant. This results in increased energy consumption.

Switch Off the Heat Lamp When Not in Use

Switching off a heat lamp when it’s not in use can save quite a bit of energy and money over time. A single heat lamp left on continually can use almost three to five times more power than the same lamp used only a few hours per day. The energy consumption adds up quickly if you have multiple heat lamps installed. 

Heat lamps

Not only will turning off the heat lamp save you money on your electricity bills, but it can also help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint. 

Maintain Your Heat Lamp Properly

A well-maintained heat lamp works more efficiently. If your lamp begins collecting dust, it will not work well. Ineffective heating and cooling will increase your energy bills.

If you have the basic knowledge of handling heat lamps, ensure you clean them occasionally. However, if you’re unsure what to do, it’s best to have a professional check and clean it. 

Which Is More Efficient? A Heat Lamp or an Electric Heater?

An electric heater is more efficient than a heat lamp because it does not have an additional lighting component. No extra electricity needs to be used for the light source. Additionally, electric heaters provide quick, effective heat without taking up much space. 

If you’re looking to keep your rooms warmer during the winter, an electric heater would be the best choice. However, if you want to keep a pet warm in its enclosure, a heat lamp is better because it works well at heating smaller spaces.

Why Choose an Electric Heater?

  • Electric heaters are easy to control. You can switch them on and off instantly. They also come with automatic switching controls, which enable you to regulate the heat and the room temperature. 
  • An electric heater provides automatic protection from overheating. You don’t have to worry about accidental fires with an electric heater.
  • An electric heater can serve you best if you have a small installation space. It doesn’t require you to have extra-heat insulation or to construct a chimney. 

All these features make an electric heater very economical. Plus, there are different types of electric heaters you can choose from. Some of them include the following:

  • Electric baseboard heaters
  • Electric fan heaters
  • Kickspace heaters
  • Electric water heaters
  • Mica heaters
  • Electric heat pumps
  • Electric fireplaces

However, unlike heat lamps, electric heaters require professional installation and once-in-a-while maintenance

If you’re considering heat lamps, know they also come in handy in various ways. For instance, they are: 

  • Reasonably cheap to buy and run
  • Don’t require professional maintenance
  • Offer pain relief therapies
  • Appropriate for domestic use in cold areas like showers and bathrooms
  • Multipurpose as they can provide light and instant heat 

Ultimately, an electric heater is usually the way to go if you are looking for an efficient and cost-effective way to heat a large space. However, a heat lamp might be the better choice if you are just looking to heat a smaller area. 

Your choice will depend on how much heat you need and how much you’re willing to invest in the heating system.

Several heat lamps in a kitchen

Best Substitutes for a Heat Lamp

Common substitutes for heat lamps include heat plates, heat pads, ceramic emitters, and hot water bottles. You could look into a halogen bulb to heat small spaces for a more modern option. You can also consider an LED bulb, a great choice for keeping your pets warm.

People’s preferences differ. Some people don’t like heat lamps for the following reasons:

  • They’re a risk factor for a fire hazard. Once a heat lamp gets hot, you can’t cool it down instantly. This can be hazardous to nearby materials, animals, and the entire home.
  • They provide disruptive light. Heat lamps produce bright light that small animals dislike. This can disrupt their natural biological functions.
  • They shatter easily. If the lamp falls, the bulb may shatter, thus spreading glass that can be hazardous. 

If you choose not to use a heat lamp, you can consider the following options.

1. Heat Plates

Heat plates serve the same purpose as heat lamps. However, unlike heat lamps, heat plates don’t present a high fire risk. 

Most people use heat plates to provide heat to chicks and ducks. Unlike heat lamps which put out consistent light, heat plates produce no light, therefore, not disrupting the sleep of the animals.

Heat plates exist in two types:

  • Vertical heat plates
  • Horizontal heat plates

Some of the advantages of heat plates include the following:

  • No artificial light
  • Less electricity
  • Low fire risk
  • Low surface heat
  • Adjustable height
  • No shatter risk

2. Heat Pads

You can buy heat pads if you have small animals such as piglets or chicks. Heat pads can be placed on the wall, under bedding, or on a towel. People choose this alternative because it has the following benefits:

  • Low burn risk
  • Lower electricity usage
  • No artificial light
  • No shatter risk

3. Ceramic Heat Emitter

A ceramic heat emitter is used similarly to a heat lamp. However, unlike a heat lamp, a ceramic heat emitter doesn’t emit light.

Here are some of the reasons why people use ceramic heat emitters:

  • Low fire risk
  • Consumes less electricity
  • No artificial light
  • Radiant heat source

The surface temperature of a ceramic heat emitter can sometimes get very hot, so be careful when using it around animals.

4. Hot Water Bottles

Hot water bottles are suitable substitutes if you require heat for your animals. Also, you can use hot water bottles to keep yourself warm. Nonetheless, these water bottles only provide temporary warmth. You’ll have to replace them frequently.

Hot water bottles are a safer alternative to heat lamps. However, if you choose this heating method, you should insulate the bottles with a dish towel or a rag to protect the animals from a thermal burn.


Before you buy a heat lamp, you should understand the cost that comes with it. You’ll need to know the wattage of the bulb to find the number of kilowatt hours it uses each day. From there, you can determine the exact price to run the lamp daily.

While heat lamps may be relatively inexpensive to run, you need to consider the logistics of acquiring one. Should you have second doubts, don’t hesitate to go for the various alternatives on the market.

Thanks for reading!

For more, check out How Much Does a Tractor Cost? (New vs Used With 20 Examples).