Beating a Michigan Winter With Space Heaters

Reblogger Donald Horne
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker-Shooltz Realty

Here's a great post on space heaters, from selection to proper use. As Jason states, 25,000 fires and 300 deaths resulting from misuse of these, read the safety precautions.

Original content by Jason Channell
Beating a Michigan Winter With Space Heaters
 
Well, we dodged the winter storm bullet here in SE Michigan until this weekend. Yikes, it is coming down now. And the temperatures are supposed to drop into the low teens and single digits. So all of us Michiganders are going to expect a lot from our furnaces over the next few days.

But furnaces aren't the only way to heat a house.

Portable space heaters are used to supplement the main heating system (if it is inadequate), or to localize heat in an occupled room while keeping the thermostat turned down around the unoccupied rooms. In fact, it is possible in some cases to lower heating costs around 10% by using space heaters in occupied rooms.

 

Different Types of Space Heaters

There are several types of space heaters:

  • Coil-based convection heaters:  Air is heated as it passes through hot metal coils, and is pushed out by a fan. A safety mesh ensures that nothing in the room will come into contact with the internal heating elements.  

coil space heater

 

 

  • Ceramic-element heaters:  Ceramic cores are larger than heating coils, so these units can operate at a lower temperature while providing an equivalent amount of heat that spreads over a farther area.  They also maintain a higher temperature for a longer period of time compared to a coil-based unit, which makes them more efficient.

ceramic space heater

 

 

  • Oil-filled radiators:  These heaters use fluid contained in a permanently sealed radiator apparatus, which does not need to be refilled. The do not use a fan, so they are silent. Oil is heated within the unit, and the heat from the oil then radiates into the room.  Once heated, the oil will continue to gradually release warmth into the room even when the internal heating element is turned off.
  • oil-filled radiator space heater

     

     

  • Halogen lamp heaters:  Energy-efficient halogen bulbs are used in these types of space heaters to provide instant warmth at the touch of a button.  They are made safe by employing safety grilles and cool cabinets, and can be especially appropriate in areas where small children or pets are of concern.

halogen heater

 

 

Space Heater Safety

Since space heaters can generate extreme temperatures at the surface, they have the potential to be dangerous -- approximately 25,000 residential fires and 300 deaths are associated with the use of space heaters every year. 

Although they are safe when operated correctly.

Follow these safety precautions (and any recommendations made by the manufacturere):

  • Never attempt to repair or replace parts in a heater yourself.  This should always be handled by a qualified service center, since the results of repairing a malfunctioning unit could be dangerous.
  • Do not use space heaters in wet or moist areas, such as in a bathroom.
  • Use of extension cords for the power supply should be avoided.  A cord marked 14 or 12 AWG can be used if absolutely necessary.
  • Use only the type of fuel or energy intended for use with the specific device.  The use of gasoline in a kerosene heater, for example, would be very dangerous.
  • Always keep heaters level and on the floor.  If a heater has been placed on furniture and it falls off, or if a table it has been placed on collapses, the damage to the unit could result in a fire or shock hazard. 

Other Factors to Consider

Energy efficiency won't happen unless the thermostats are turned down. If a space heater is used simply in addition to central heat without lowering the central thermostat, it will only add to energy bills. 
 
Here are some other things to take into consideration when deciding whether a space heater will be right for a given situation, and which type of space heater will work best.
  • What area of the building will the heater be used in?  Consider whether this area will really benefit from use of a portable heater. Heating a room that is generally cold but not often used anyway would not provide a return on savings. 
  • Space heaters that include a thermostat are more efficient than models that do not.
  • If the unit doesn't have a thermostat, once the heater has adequately heated a room at full power, turn the setting lower to maintain current levels.
  • Select a heater with appropriate safety features for the application... especially important if small children live there or visit often.
  • Keep combustibles (like hair sprays) and flammables (like Kleenex) away.
 

 

Jason Channell, The House Sleuth

(888) 699-8710

Learn more: Indoor Air Quality and Environment

Learn more: Maintaining Your House

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