Space heaters are designed to heat a small space and are not intended as the primary heating source of a home. As such, they typically provide a quick source of heat on chilly nights and are suitable to taking the chill off when the mercury drops. When used as directed space heaters can an efficient and cost effective way to warm those chilly toes without cranking up the furnace. Here’s what to look for.
Size: The size of space heater you need depends on the size of the room and the intended purpose of the heater. To keep chilly drafts at bay while one or two people relax in front of the TV, a small space heater will suffice. To heat a large room while entertaining guests requires a bigger heater. Typically, a heater that produces 5,100 BTUs or uses 1500 Watts will heat a 12-foot by 12-foot room, but you must consider any sources of drafts or heat leaks in the area. A closed area heats more efficiently than an open area. Check the manufacture’s recommendations to determine if the heater is the right size for you.
Type: There are several types of space heaters, ranging from propane or kerosene to electric. Both propane and kerosene heaters pose a health risk if operated in a closed space for hours. These heaters are best for patios, porches or workrooms and should not be operated in sleeping areas as they pose the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Convection vs Radiant Heat: Not all electric space heaters are the same. Those that produce convection heat are best for heating an entire room as the heat disperses throughout the room. However, if all you need it a little warmth on the feet, a radiant heater may be for you. These heaters warm a small area immediately around the heater. When the heater is turned off the air cools quickly.
Fans: When choosing a space heater, look for one with a built in fan as this helps to distribute the heat throughout the room. Many have fans that activate when the air has reached the proper temperature. These fans can be set via the thermostat on the heater.
Safety: Safety should always be your first concern when you purchase or operate space heaters. Many come with automatic shutoffs if the unit is tipped over or if it overheats, but those are not the only safety concerns. According to Cozy Products , improper use of space heater causes 25,000 house fires a year and accounts for 300 deaths. Always follow manufacturer’s operating instructions when operating your space heater. Place the heater on a level surface and plug it directly into the wall. Keep flammable objects, such as pillows, drapes and fabric at least three feet from the heater and never run a space heater with a defective cord.