Space Heater Safety Tips

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Frigid weather has finally set in around our Yonkers, New York, headquarters, a reminder that winter has officially begun. That’s old news to those of you in many parts of the country. And, yes, we can hear the snickering from those of you in the warm-weather Sun Belt.

If you’re going to use a space heater as supplemental heat or as a way to save money on heating, see our How to choose and Space Heaters: Add Comfort With Ease features and view the video at right. Buying models with tip-over and automatic shutoff switches, using them with heavy-gauge extension cords (it’s best to avoid using an extension cord when possible), not overloading a circuit, and not placing them near drapes or other flammable furnishings are just four essential tips to keep in mind. Propane and kerosene models pose particular risks that require added precautions and we recommend the using models with an oxygen-depletion sensor and deploying smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors for added safety.

In our ratings of space heaters (available to subscribers), the Holmes Quartz Tower HQH319, $60, earned a recommended rating among electronic radiant heaters, which are best for spot-heating small spaces. But the only real way to save with a space heater is to use zone heating, in which you lower the temperature in unoccupied parts of the house and use the space heater(s) in the spots where you’re hanging out. That’s why we also rated a number of electric convection and electric forced-fan convection models a better bet if you want to heat an entire room.

We also examined two heavily publicized space heaters that claim to provide cost-effective heating. See our "Amish Heater" Does a Good Job, But Don't Expect Any Miracles and Are EdenPure Space Heaters Just a Lot of Hot Air? features to find out why neither was particularly economical. In our heating, cooling and air forum you’ll find discussions of several other heaters from manufacturers like DeLonghi and Bionaire.

Essential information: Our Energy Saving & Green Living guide includes many other products and procedures you can use to cut your heating bill this winter.

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