Is it Risky to Use a Space Heater?

January 12, 2017

Snowy cabin home

A space heater is a handy appliance. Need a fast warm-up for your feet? An auxiliary heater can do the trick, without the need to raise the furnace thermostat. Need to warm up a cold room quickly? Certain types of heaters are designed to do the trick. Not only do space heaters improve comfort, but when used strategically, then can actually help you save energy.

But just as their labels warn, space heaters require handling with care. Although safer than ever these days, with features like shut-off sensors that turn them off if they tip over, and safety grills that prevent burns, there are still risks. Space heaters are the cause of more than 18,000 residential fires annually, due in large part to risky behavior on the part of the user.

Safety Tips

These tips will allow you use your heater safely.

  1. A space heater should have a safety grill, some kind of footing so it will sit on the level and all its controls and knobs.
  2. Don't buy a room heater without a sensor that switches off the unit when it's tipped over.
  3. Position the heater on a flat surface, at least 3 feet away from any combustible materials, and away from foot traffic.
  4. Never put anything on top of a space heater.
  5. Don't use an older heater if the cord is frayed, or if it's missing a safety grill, control knobs or feet. Dispose of it properly.
  6. Never plug an auxiliary heater into an extension cord, as you risk overheating the unit.
  7. Don't leave a room heater unattended in a child's room.
  8. Don't use electric heaters in rooms or situations where they may get wet or you risk electrocution.
  9. Never use combustion-type heaters indoors unless they are properly vented.
  10. When you exit from a room, make sure the heater is turned off. Unplug heaters when you leave home.
  11. Look for the "UL Listed" imprint on the label. This certifies this type of unit has been tested for safety.

To learn more about safely using your space heater, contact Lozier Heating and Cooling. We've served Des Moines since 1906.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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