Spacer heaters are handy, portable solutions for making chilly spaces more comfortable. Homeowners use space heaters to warm the rooms that see the most use or rooms with a draft or to bridge the gap between family members’ personal preferences.

Make sure you know how to buy a safe space heater and how to use a space heater safely.

What Makes Space Heaters Unsafe?

All home appliances come with risks. Devices that rely on a strong electrical current or generate heat are inherently more prone to problems, including short circuits and fire hazards. Most homeowners that use space heaters opt for electric devices; we advise against use gas or propane space heaters indoors – period.

Most space heaters draw 12.5 amps at 120 volts. The standard circuit in your home can only carry about 15 amps at any time, which means you’ll need to unplug other devices to avoid overloading the circuit. An overloaded circuit increases the risk of fire or short circuit and can also deteriorate wiring if put under perpetual strain.

Coil and fan space heaters are significant fire hazards because the red-hot coils can ignite flammable materials nearby, even if they don’t make direct contact.

You can use space heaters safely, but it’s essential to know the facts. Space heaters are linked to four out of every five deaths associated with home heating systems. If you’re concerned about the risks, talk to your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning technicians.

Safety Starts at the Store

Start by choosing a space heater with the right mix of safety features and designs. Here are the features to look for before you buy.

A timer – You should never sleep with a space heater running. Just in case you nod off, make sure to choose a unit with a timer that will automatically shut the heater down.

Anti-tip turnoff – This is a must! Many space heaters will automatically turn off the heating element if they tip over or someone picks it up while in use.

Childproof lock – Parents should opt for space heaters with lockable controls. If a curious kiddo starts pressing buttons, the locks prevent the child from turning the unit on or adjusting any heating settings.

What Is the Safest Space Heater?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but we do recommend ceramic heaters. These are often the most affordable space heaters available, yet also tend to come with the most safety features. Many have an appliance leakage current interrupter (ALCI) built into the plug, significantly reducing the risk of shock or an electrical short.

How to Use a Space Heater Safely

Using a space heater safely depends on a vigilant operator, and that’s you! If you’re just getting your heater out for the season, follow these space heater fire safety tips:

  1. Place the space heater at least 3 feet from anything flammable, especially curtains, blankets, newspapers, and towels.
  2. Always place the space heater on a firm, flat surface.
  3. Don’t use power strips or extension cords with your heater. Always plug the space heater directly into an outlet.
  4. Turn off and unplug your space heater when not in use. Never go to sleep with a space heater running.
  5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, including maintenance or cleaning.

Related: All About Fireplace Efficiency

Get More Out of Your Heating System Instead

Space heaters aren’t worth the risk, especially if you have room to improve your home’s heating efficiency. If you rely on space heaters to stay warm, it’s worth taking a closer look at your heating system. Poorly maintained systems or leaky ductwork can cause cold spots in certain parts of the home. You may not need to use a space heater at all with proper maintenance!

Safety Comes First at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning

Space heaters are a common secondary heat source in millions of American homes. No matter what kind you use or wear, prioritize safety every time you plug it in. Speak with a friendly, professional HVAC expert who can identify ways to reduce your reliance on auxiliary heat sources, keeping you and your family safe. For more ways to stay cozy during the heating season, we’re here to help. Book an appointment or call (800) 893-3523 today!