Be Careful with Space Heaters

Using space heaters safely

For us in Florida, most of the year is spent blasting the air conditioning to stay cool.  But during those few short months of the year we’re in now when we do get cold, it is certainly something we’re not used to – unlike our northern friends.

And for many of us the temptation is there to use a space heater instead of the heat cycle on your air conditioner. With the little bit of chill we’ve experience of late, that temptation is rising.

With a space heater, we can efficiently heat individual rooms quickly and not impact the rest of our home.  Instead of heating the entire household, using a space heater can provide the convenience of heating whatever room(s) you want at a much lower cost. For example, a 1500-watt space heater operating four hours a day for 30 days would use about 180 kilowatt hours of electricity.  It would cost about $11 to operate the space heater for the month.

While space heaters can be useful, it is also important to use them properly to keep your family and home safe. As many as 45 percent of heating fires resulting in a fatality involved portable heaters, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Make sure that if you choose to heat your home with a space heater this winter, you keep these tips in mind to stay safe:

  • Always check that the space heater, plug and cord are clean and in good condition before use.
  • Keep space heaters out of high traffic areas and away from any combustible liquids or flammable items.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard, nonflammable surface and never in enclosed areas like below a desk.
  • Never leave a space heater operating while unattended, even if you are sleeping.
  • Do not use an extension cord or power strip with your space heater, and never run the heater’s cords underneath a rug or carpet.
  • Make sure the space heater doesn’t overload your circuit breaker by ensuring that the amps are compatible. A typical circuit is on a 15-amp breaker, so a single heater that draws 12-15 amps might trip the circuit.