Electric space heaters can be valuable tools to help you stay comfortable and conserve energy. They can also waste energy, cost you money, and present safety hazards. It all depends on how and when you use them
What are the benefits and advantages?
At home, you may want to consider using an electric heater in the room you occupy most. This might be the living room or TV room. You can keep that room a little warmer and dial down the thermostat on your furnace several degrees for the rest of the house. Your furnace will run less, you'll save money, and you'll be more comfortable. (This works well if the house thermostat is not in the room where the space heater is being used.) However, you'll save even more by dressing warmly and avoiding space heater use at all.
At work, when the days start getting cooler in the fall, it may be cheaper to use electric heaters for short periods in isolated areas, such as offices, instead of firing up the central heating system. The longer you can avoid running big heating equipment, the more energy and money you will save.
So what are the problems?
First, a typical electric space heater uses 1,500 watts of power, which ties up more than 83 percent of a standard 15-Amp circuit. That leaves very little capacity to run other household appliances or office equipment. It also makes it very easy to overload a circuit and trip a breaker. An overloaded circuit is not only a nuisance, it's a potential hazard. Continually overloading a circuit and tripping the breaker can weaken the breaker and the wiring, and there's a risk of fire from an overloaded circuit.
Secondly, electric heaters are sometimes used when it isn't economical to do so. They're left on when homes or offices are vacant, operated while the furnace is running, or they're used to raise the temperature higher than what's really needed, which wastes energy.
Electric space heaters are also expensive to operate for long periods of time. "A typical 1500-watt heater costs over 20 cents an hour to operate. Using just one space heater 24 hours a day for one month would add about $162 to your electric bill,” says Jodi Pineau, UPPCO Customer Care Manager. "Some people use multiple heaters without realizing they're adding $300-$400 a month to their electric bills."
Space Heater Safety
Electric space heaters are safe when used properly, but improper use can lead to burns or fires. UPPCO joins the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in offering some common-sense tips for safe operation.
- Select a space heater with a guard around the
heating element to protect children and clothing.
- Select a space heater that automatically turns
off if it's tipped over
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters -
some get very hot. Children should not be allowed to
adjust the controls or move the heater.
- When you choose a heater, look for one that has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Lab (UL).
- Never leave a space heater on when you sleep or
leave the room. This is a fire hazard.
- Never store paints, solvents, or flammable
liquids near a space heater. Vapors can ignite.
- Place heaters at least three feet away from bedding, furniture, and drapes.
For More Information, Contact:
- Jodi Pineau, Customer Care Manager
- UPPCO Customer Service