All About Space Heaters

By Leanna Thesken

Electric heat unitAs the cold winter weather rolls in, make sure you are prepared to keep warm. Portable space heaters are a great option to beat frigid temperatures. Here are some tips and tricks to stay warm this winter.

A Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the right space heater depends on the space you need to heat. Keeping your home safe is equally important.

  • Determine your heating needs and size requirements.
    Find the correct heater size. You need 10 watts of heating power for every square foot of floor space in the room where you use it. A space heater that is too large will consume more energy than needed. A space heater that is too small will not heat your space adequately.
  • Reduce the risk of fire and overheating with advanced safety features.
    Overheat protection detects when the heater reaches unsafe temperatures and automatically shuts off the unit to prevent overheating.
    Tip-over protection shuts off the unit if it is knocked over.
    Cool-touch housing is built with heat-resistant exteriors that eliminate the risk of burns from touching the unit.

Take Safety Precautions

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters cause more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths each year. More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care annually for burns from space heaters. Do not become a statistic. As the temperature drops and the use of space heaters rises, remember to follow all warnings.

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Ensure smoke alarms are properly working on every floor of your home.
  • Check your space heater for a safety approval label from organizations such as Underwriters Laboratory, or UL; Intertek, or ETL; or the Canadian Standards Association, or CSA.
  • Scan the heater for any cracks, broken plugs or loose connections.
  • Place the heater on a flat, smooth surface. Do not set it on furniture, tables, carpet or shelves.
  • Avoid high-traffic areas, which increase the likelihood of the heater falling and overheating, potentially causing a fire.
  • Keep the space heater at least 3 feet from flammable objects, such as bedding, curtains, furniture and papers.
  • Never leave a space heater running unattended.
  • Always plug a space heater directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip.

Focus on Efficiency

As you turn up the heat, make sure you do not turn up your utility bill. Save energy and money with these tips:

  • Use a space heater’s timer feature, and turn off the heater when not needed.
  • Avoid heat loss by closing doors to rooms being heated.
  • Check the wattage and size rating listed on the space heater and choose the right heater for the size of your room.