Safe and Warm
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters cause more than 1,700 house fires every year. When used incorrectly, space heaters can be a fire hazard and also result in energy bills that send a chill down your spine. If you are planning to use a space heater to warm up your home this winter, consider the following safety and efficiency tips:
- Purchase a heater that has the seal of a qualified testing laboratory and comes with safety features such as auto shut-off, which turns off the heater if it tips over.
- Never use an extension cord. Space heaters should be plugged in directly to a wall outlet, as most extension cords cannot handle the high currents a space heater draws and could cause a fire. Do not leave a space heater unattended. Always turn off the space heater when you leave the room or go to bed, and do not put a space heater in a child's room.
- Vintage is not a good thing when it comes to space heaters. Think twice before plugging in an older heater and consider upgrading to a newer model with better safety features.
- Never set up a space heater on a table. They are designed to be placed on the floor, on a hard, level and nonflammable surface. Keep the space heater at least 3 feet away from curtains, drapes, blankets and anything else that could catch fire.
ARE SPACE HEATERS ENERGY EFFICIENT?
When shopping for a space heater, you may notice several manufacturers advertising their model as being 100% energy efficient. While that is technically true — a space heater converts 100% of the electricity it uses into heat — that does not necessarily mean that using one will lower your winter energy bills. It may, in fact, cost you more money.
Space heaters still draw electricity to produce heat. If you are relying on space heaters as your main source of heat for the winter months, your winter energy bills are probably much higher than they would be if you invested in making your home more energy efficient. Installing an HVAC system or a heat pump, along with insulation and weatherstripping, will give you better results, helping you stay warm and reducing your energy bills in the long run. The bottom line is space heaters work best as a temporary heat source. Use them wisely to avoid fire risks and sky-high energy bills. Stay warm!