Beware of pros and cons when using a space heater
If you have a cold room at home, or a workplace that doesn’t seem to get or stay warm, you may find yourself looking for a space heater.
Portable heaters can warm a space and help you avoid turning the thermostat up or overheating other areas.
They can be an affordable way to stay warm, but keep operating costs in mind if you use them for prolonged periods. Our energy expert, Gabe Twellman, reminds us, “Space heaters can be an effective way to heat a room, but don’t rely on a space heater as a primary source of heat in your home. A common 1500 watt electric space heater will cost roughly $0.15 an hour to operate. If the space heater is used eight hours a day it would, on average, increase an energy bill about $36 a month.”
If you choose to use a space heater to supplement your home’s heating system, be careful about where it is placed and plugged in. Generally, plugging a space heater directly into a wall outlet is best. However, if you must use an extension cord, make sure it’s the correct type and has the right wire gauge size for your particular space heater. Place your heater in a location with convenient access to an outlet.
Keep your heater 3 feet away from combustible materials — such as bedding, drapes, rugs and clothes. Avoid using them in areas where you store flammable liquids.
When selecting a heater, look for safety features that will automatically shut the heater off if it tips over or reaches a certain set temperature. Choose a heater that has been approved by an independent testing facility, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Purchase a safety-certified model and read the safety instructions. Inspect all cords and connections for cracks and frayed edges, which are serious fire and injury hazards.
Something to keep in mind while using space heaters is that they are responsible for 32 percent of house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.