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Space heater use and safety

Posted on Monday, January 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm

If you have a room at home or workplace area that doesn’t seem to get or stay warm, you may find yourself looking for a space heater. A portable heater can warm a space and help you avoid turning up the thermostat up or overheating other areas.

Space heaters can be an affordable way to stay warm, but keep operating costs in mind if you use them for prolonged periods. Cuivre River Electric Cooperative Member Services Representative Gabe Twellman reminds us, “Space heaters can be an effective way to heat a room, but don’t rely on a space heater as a primary source of heat in your home. A common 1500 watt electric space heater will cost roughly $0.15 an hour to operate. If the space heater is used 8 hours a day, on average, it could increase an energy bill about $36 a month.”

If you choose to use a space heater to supplement your home’s heating system, be careful about where it is placed and plugged in. Generally, plugging a space heater directly into a wall outlet is best. However, if you must use an extension cord, make sure it’s the correct type and has the right wire gauge size for your particular space heater. Place your heater in a location with convenient access to an outlet.

Keep heaters three feet away from combustible materials — such as bedding, drapes, rugs and clothes. Avoid using them in areas where you store flammable liquids.

When selecting a heater, look for safety features that will automatically shut the heater off if it tips over or reaches a certain set temperature. Choose a heater that has been approved by an independent testing facility, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Purchase a safety-certified model and read the safety instructions. Inspect all cords and connections for cracks and frayed edges, which are serious fire and injury hazards.

Something to keep in mind while using space heaters is that they are responsible for 32 percent of house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association

As with any appliance, especially one that gives off heat, certain precautions should be taken:

  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Don’t let children or pets play too close to a space heater.
  • Space heaters provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when is not being used.
  • Never use or store flammable liquids near space heaters.

For more information about portable heater energy use and safety visit: https://energy.gove/energysaver/portableheaters or www.consumersearch.com/space-heater-safety.

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