Beware of space heater claimsWith the cold weather we’re experiencing, many people might use electric space heaters to take off the chill. Otter Tail Power Company offers these tips for buying and using portable electric space heaters to help ensure efficiency and safety:
With the cold weather we’re experiencing, many people might use electric space heaters to take off the chill.
Otter Tail Power Company offers these tips for buying and using portable electric space heaters to help ensure efficiency and safety:
Don't fall for claims of added efficiency on overpriced electric space heaters. All electric space heaters operate at 100 percent efficiency.
Because they convert all of the electricity they use to heat, they all are equally efficient so claims of added efficiency are false – no matter how elaborate the cabinet that holds the heater.
The only feature of an electric heater that affects the amount of heat the unit can generate is wattage. A 1,000-watt heater uses 1 kilowatt-hour per hour of operation no matter what type of heater it is. (Heat pumps are the only option that can claim greater efficiency because these units capture free heat from the environment.)
The type of heater you choose can help you feel more comfortable.
For example, an electric heater that distributes warmth from a greater surface area, such as a portable baseboard or a radiator-shaped heater, can increase comfort by distributing heat more evenly.
A small fan-forced heater of the same wattage, meanwhile, will produce the same amount of heat but at a higher intensity and be more localized. But either will heat your room.
Select a portable electric heater that has a thermostat so it doesn't run all the time.
A unit with a thermostat can help maintain a constant temperature and not overheat an area.
If using a heater without a thermostat, consider operating it on a timer to avoid wasting energy.
A thermostat also may help avoid safety issues should the heater be left on when no one is home or attending it.
Select the proper wattage for a portable electric space heater so it doesn’t overload your electrical wiring and create a fire safety issue.
Don’t be tempted to buy a higher-wattage unit because of the additional heat it can deliver unless you know you have adequate capacity in your home wiring.
The smaller the wattage the less likely it will overload your wiring. Portable electric heaters come in a variety of sizes. The most common are 1,000-watt and 1,500-watt units, and some have low, medium, and high settings.
One sign of an overloaded circuit is blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. Here are some other indicators.
Make sure that the outlet into which you plug your portable electric space heater is tight fitting.
Feel the outlet surface after the unit has operated for a while. If the outlet, or the wall surrounding it, becomes warm, the wiring is overloaded. Discontinue using that outlet for your heater or consider a lower-wattage heater.
Do not use a circuit that has many other items plugged into it.
Look for a portable electric heater that automatically shuts off if tipped over and that has protective casing over the heating element to avoid the potential for burns.
Never use a portable electric space heater or any electric appliance near wet areas such as bathtubs and sinks.
Avoid using an extension cord but, if one is needed, be sure it has at least 12-gauge wire.
Keep portable electric space heaters away from flammable materials such as curtains, bedding, newspapers, etc.
Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions and make sure a portable electric space heater is UL labeled.
If you have questions about energy conservation, energy prices, or about how an electric space heater might affect your electric service bill, call Otter Tail Power Company’s Idea Center at 800-493-3299.
To learn more about Otter Tail Power Company visit www.otpco.com. To learn more about Otter Tail Corporation visit www.ottertail.com.