When the weather cools, you have a couple of basic options: Turn up the thermostat or, depending on the area you’re heating, perhaps holding off on doing that and instead using a space heater. Using energy efficient space heaters to help keep your home cozy starts with choosing the most efficient space heater that best fits the space and your needs.
The first question almost everyone ponders as they consider choosing a space heater is this: Are portable heaters safe? The short answer is yes — with this caveat: You must follow certain safety protocols. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires are the result of improper use of space heaters.
Energy.gov recommends the following best practices for space heater safety:
While it might seem as if putting an energy efficient space heater in any room where you’re cold is the obvious solution, you do need to consider a few points before plugging that heater in. Many space heaters require electricity, and that means being savvy about how long you run the space heater. Otherwise, you could end up with an electric bill surprise at the end of the month and no one wants that!
Most efficient space heaters are 1,500 watts. Here’s how to figure out what it might cost you to run one for eight hours:
Using this formula, a space heater running eight hours a day for a month with a .12 per kilowatt-hour rate could end up adding $43.20 to your electric bill. That’s no small expense!
But let’s assume you have decided that energy efficient space heaters make sense in your home. The Electric Consumer Organization offers these pointers for smart use:
If you are choosing a space heater that runs on kerosene or natural gas rather than electricity, aka a combustion space heater, you’ll need to understand the difference between unvented space heaters and vented space heaters. All combustion space heaters fall into one of those two categories.
Unvented space heaters have combustion byproducts such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and water vapor. This makes them unsuitable for most indoor settings. Indeed, Energy.gov notes that most states have banned using unvented kerosene heaters in homes, and that at least five states have banned the indoor use of unvented natural gas heaters.
Vented space heaters are meant to be located by outside walls with a flue gas vent installed through either a ceiling or directly through the wall to the outside. These vented space heaters, also known as sealed combustion space heaters, are generally safer to operate, Energy.gov reports. They are also more efficient because they keep the heated air in the room and are less likely to create air quality issues with byproducts. Energy.gov recommends getting these space heaters inspected annually to ensure that they are venting properly.
Do you use space heaters in your home? What’s your favorite type? Do you have any good tips on space heater use? We want to know so we can all have cozier homes in the colder months!
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