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Space heaters can be effective and efficient devices to heat specific areas of your home, saving money by not heating rooms that are unoccupied. On average, space heaters cost between 10 and 15 cents an hour to operate. There are a plethora of space heaters on the market today, each possessing unique features to meet specific needs. Care should be taken to evaluate which type of space heater is best suited for you.

Types of space heaters

Radiator space heaters are filled with oil that is heated by electricity. The oil in these heaters is able to maintain the heat for a time even after the unit is turned off. Although they don’t offer immediate heat, this type of space heater is most effective at heating an entire room.

Ceramic space heaters are composed of heated metal plates encased in ceramic. These space heaters often come equipped with many safety features, including staying cool to the touch. These units heat quickly and their heat is easily directed, making them ideal for someone to sit near to take away the chill. These are ideal for the individual who is always cold, but are not as effective in heating whole rooms. Since most of these units have built-in fans, they can also be noisy to operate.

Baseboard space heaters have heated copper tubes that are embedded inside them. These heaters are quiet and low profile. They also have the ability to heat larger rooms. Unfortunately these space heaters do not circulate air well nor are they often mobile. These units are typically mounted to walls so are not easily moved from one room to the next.

Radiant space heaters are the heating choice for those lacking patience. They provide reflective heat from a heating element internally housed. These units provide a heat that is very similar in nature to the warmth radiated by the sun. The heat emitted by these units is almost instantly available. Not only do they heat quickly, but they are also efficient at heating entire rooms. They are quiet to operate as they do not have fans, but can become quite hot and pose a potential fire risk.

Micathermic heaters are a hybrid between the radiant and convention heating technologies. These units heat up twice as fast as ceramic or oil filled heaters, but do not overheat. Micathermic heaters evenly distribute their heat without a fan. As of yet, however, Micathermic heaters are not as effective as radiant heaters nor are they as widely available.

The Don’ts

Although space heaters offer great strengths, they can also carry with them inherent dangers. These dangers are often underestimated by their users. Under no circumstances should any type of space heater ever be plugged into an extension cord. Most extension cords are not designed to handle the electrical load drawn by a space heater.

Space heaters, on average, draw 1500 watts of electricity to operate. Because of this, a space heater should not be plugged into an outlet that has other draws on that same circuit at that same time. It is not uncommon for 8 to 12 outlets in relatively close proximity in your home to all be on the same circuit. If too much electricity is being drawn, there is a potential for overheating the circuit which should cause the breaker to trip.

Never place a space heater within close proximity to something flammable. Best case scenario, space heaters should not be within 3 feet of furniture, drapery, bedding, walls, or even carpet if possible.

The Dos

It is best to use fans, not just the one on the heater, to maximize the efficiency of space heaters. These fans can be ones that are used to cool in the summertime, such as a floor or table fan, or even a ceiling fan if available.

Choose a space heater that is electric rather than powered by fuel. Electric space heaters are safer to operate and better overall than those that are fuel operated.

Purchase a space heater that has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This will guarantee that its safety has been carefully evaluated.

Use a space heater in a room that can be closed off from the rest of the house. When you leave this room, the space heater should always be turned off.

If you find that you are using a space heater daily, you may want to consult an electrician to install a dedicated circuit to the outlet you are using. A dedicated circuit is used to run appliances that draw a significant load such as a range, refrigerator, or laundry machines. This would ensure that the circuit will never be overloaded by the heater and will negate the associated dangers.

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