Even here in the Valley of the Sun, it can get downright chilly during the winter months. For homeowners, there is often uncertainty over when to crank up the heat by turning up the thermostat and when it makes sense and cents to choose an electric, gas or radiant space heater.
Many believe that space heaters are a more practical heating solution. However, the reality is there are times when it’s better to turn up the central heat and other times when a portable heater is a better choice. Because there is so much debate on this topic, the U.S. Department of Energy has weighed in. They state that space heaters “can be less expensive to use if you want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating in a room.”
However, it’s important to note that space heaters are not more cost-effective than central heating systems when the heat is required in more than one or two small areas. In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that it would cost nearly 50 percent more to heat a home with space heaters when compared to central heat.
Space Heater Best Practices
If you do choose to use a small space heater to warm up a single room or small space, there are some best practices that can keep you, your family and your home safe and comfortable.
- Only use a heater that has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and has an automatic shut down when the desired temperature is achieved.
- Choose a model with a tip over automatic shut-down feature.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet from all combustible material, including newspapers, clothing, and blankets.
- Don’t place heaters under desks or in enclosed spaces.
- Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord to plug in a heater.
- Don’t use heaters in rooms that are not being occupied.
- Keep small space heaters away from exits, walkways, and paths of travel.