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Dangers of Using a Space Heater

The Situation:Your furnace seems to be working hard, but the house feels so cold! The cost to heat your home is on an upward swing. Being a problem solver, you decide to buy a couple portable space heaters to make it through the winter. But is this really the solution to your problem? There are some dangers to consider and precautions to take.

Space Heater or Furnace Repair?

The short answer is Furnace Repair. The long answer considers a few additional things.

Annual Furnace Maintenance

A yearly checkup of your furnace may be a less expensive, more long-term option than you think. Your furnace may only need an inexpensive professional tune-up. Other possible options include products designed to extend the life of your furnace – Yes, these are only a band-aid, and the better long-term solution is to invest in a high-efficiency furnace…but we also understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. Our technicians and sales people are trained to find the solution that works for you: your home, your family, your budget – your comfort. The best way to find out is to talk to one of our HVAC Pros. (We offer free estimates and have financing options available!)

Are Space Heaters Safe?

Space heaters account for 1/3 of all of all home heating fires and more than 80 percent of home heating deaths. An estimated 6,000 people per year receive treatment for burn injuries from coming into contact with hot surfaces of portable heaters. Ouch.

What will it cost to run a space heater?

Depending on the make model and power consumption of the space heater, you could be looking at far more in energy bills than you would to simply fix your furnace. The spike in electricity usage over the Iowa winter months could rack up to several hundred dollars, where a repair may be very simple and inexpensive for a professional to diagnose and fix. Further, a space heater isn’t a very efficient way to maintain a comfortable temperature in a room.

Holding off on fixing your furnace problems could mean a costly repair or replacement bill. Double ouch. Have one of our HVAC technicians inspect your furnace to identify and fix any issues. It could save you major dollars. Once you’ve established that your furnace is on its “A” game, a space heater can be looked at as a supplemental solution.

Should a space heater be used to heat a house?

No. Whenever possible, space heaters should not be the main source of heat for your whole house. There are, however, plenty of times that using a good space heater makes sense to use for parts of your home.

As long as your furnace or mini-split heating unit is working properly, a space heater can be looked at as a supplemental solution. They can increase the temperature of a room used by individuals who are sensitive to the cold, especially the elderly, without excessively heating your whole home. There are definite safety concerns with space heaters, but if you take the necessary precautions, you’ll be able to stay warm and have peace of mind. Once you’ve determined that a space heater is a good solution to heating that cold room (not your whole house!)

Precautions for using a space heater

  • Purchase only heaters that are UL listed and safety tested. UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is a world leader in product safety and certification.
  • Make sure the space heater unit has an emergency tip-over shut-off feature and heating element guards.
  • Ensure that you have properly installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your house – and that they are in good working order.
  • DO NOT place space heaters on carpets, furniture, or counter tops.
  • DO NOT place near curtains, bedding, or children’s furniture.Keep space heaters at least three feet away from drapes, blankets, and sofas.
  • DO place the space heater on a hard, level, and nonflammable floor surface.
  • Never use a space heater to thaw pipes, dry clothing, or cook food. Shockingly, these are not their intended uses.
  • Keep heaters away from combustibles such as spray cans, paint, and fuel.
  • Children and animals need to be kept away from space heaters. Accidental contact can result in burns.
  • Extension cords or multiple plugs cannot be used with a space heater. Don’t overload the circuits and don’t plug into the same circuit as other electrical appliances.
  • NEVER leave space heaters unattended. Turn off before going to bed or leaving the room.
  • Replace old space heaters. Look for newer, safer models.

Educating yourself about the dangers of space heaters will go a long way in ensuring the safety of your family and your home. Remember, if your furnace’s performance has you questioning whether or not to get a space heater, your best option is to get in touch with one of CW Suter’s qualified HVAC technicians to schedule a check up.

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