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Space Heater or Not?

Posted by on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at 4:03pm.

This cold weather season is the perfect time to finally get around to managing and lowering your heating costs. As a homeowner you're likely already familiar with the many ways you can cut down on heating costs -- having a well insulated home and a programmable thermostat are two of them -- but one of the more questionable ways, the space heater, may have you wondering. Here we'll tell you everything you need to know about the oftentimes inexpensive and easy to use space heater as the days continue to grow shorter and the temperature drops. Is one right for you and your home?

Drawing upon the wisdom from Consumer Reports, the bottom line about whether or not a space heater can save you money is this: space heaters can comfortably warm a chilly room, but the only way to potentially save money is to use the heater in one room and leave the rest of the house chillier. Many different sources say to leave the house around 68 degrees and run the space heater in the room you use the most. If this sounds like a scenario that could benefit you, then the next step is to select the right one.

The most important thing about buying a space heater is finding one that has been tested by a recognizable testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory, Intertek, or Canadian Standards Association. You'll want to make sure the heater's construction and performance meets voluntary U.S. safety standards. Most electric heaters you'll come across include a wide variety of safety features that work to reduce the risk of fire -- but they are not completely without risks. Be sure and purchase only newer models of heaters, and one that is the right size for the room you wish to heat. Put it on a firm, level surface and keep it away from children and pets.

Before you go out and buy a space heater, you should take a minute and survey the room you want to heat and where you'll put it. There are three different types of space heaters to choose from: convection, radiant, and combination. Price varies quite a lot -- anywhere from six dollars to over a hundred. Another thing to take into consideration is how many watts of power you want to use. You can find heaters that use between 600 to 1,500 -- the larger the wattage the more power it uses and the hotter it'll get. So, of the three types of space heaters readily available, which one should you buy? We'll discuss. 

Convection Heaters

Convection heaters produce heat by heating air that comes in contact with one or two elements. These type of heaters generate heat slowly, so if you're looking for some quick heat, this may not be your heater of choice. However, the heat they produce lasts for a long time, and they're fairly quiet. Heavier than radiant heaters, some are equipped with fans to help circulate heat throughout a room.

Radiant Heaters

This is the perfect heater for someone who wants to get warm quickly. They usually use a liquid such as diathermic oil that circulates through a series of connected pipes to generate heat. Radiant heaters are good as spot heating devices rather than at heating large spaces. They save energy by directly heating the occupant and the surrounding areas, rather than the entire room. It's with these type of heaters that the most risks are posed to people and animals. They can easily burn a person and should never be put too close to combustible materials (such as the couch).

Conductive or Combination Heaters

These space heaters combine the best features found in the above heaters in one neat package. With the help of a fan, they distribute heat throughout the room, but tend not to be as efficient as the other heaters. They're very portable, and can be used just about anywhere.

Electric space heaters don't require any fancy work; no filters, no ducts or exhaust flues. Installation and maintenance can hardly get any easier, making them a great choice for a lot of people who are looking for something with little upfront cost. But you may still be wondering, can it really save me money? There are many different factors to consider when trying to answer this question, from how large the area is you want to heat to the amount of time you plan on running the space heater. Homeowners who live on one floor with just a few rooms to heat could save money by using a space heater, while those who have a multi floor home with several rooms will use several space heaters, multiplying the cost.

The key with using a space heater is to practice using energy conserving habits. They don't cost anything when they aren't in use, so when you leave the house or turn in for the night, they should be turned off.

Hughes Real Estate Group is Boise, Idaho's leading real estate team. Contact us anytime at (208) 571-7145 to get your search for the perfect Idaho home started.

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