4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy Electric Space Heaters This Winter
If you are looking for a solution to quickly raise the temperature of your living space and make any room feel more comfortable, then you might consider electric space heaters. Some can be installed in a fixed position, like wall-mounted electric heaters or baseboard heaters. Others are portable, offering greater flexibility. Based on the model and type of the electric heater you choose, both the energy usage, measured in watts, and the heat output, which is measured in BTUs, tend to vary.
Many people think that electric space heaters are a solid alternative to running your heating system during cold winter months. But the truth is there are multiple factors to consider and it might turn out that they’re not such a great idea after all. Here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t buy electric space heaters this winter.
1. They Increase Your Energy Bill
Certain electric heaters function through resistance. This means that the electrical line voltage flows through a heating element and when the electrical resistance is met at the heating element, this heats up. Depending on the size of the unit and the size of the space that needs to be heated, an electric wall heater may require a dedicated circuit of 120 or 240 volts.
Other types of electric heaters function by convection or radiant heat. Hot air rises and relies upon natural convection to move the heat around the room. This is the natural law convection heat uses. Radiant heat or infrared heats objects instead of the air. Either way, a lot of electricity is being used, even though the exact amount depends greatly on your usage as well. In order to find out just how much energy your electric space heaters uses and of course the cost involved, you need to find out the wattage. This detail is usually printed on the heater or in the manual. Knowing the wattage will allow you to determine the amount of electricity needed to power it.
The majority of electric space heaters use 1,500 watts, but there are models that can use less or even more. Assuming that your heater is a 1,500-watt heater, this means that you are using 1.5 kilowatts of power. To calculate the cost, you will need to find out how many kilowatt-hours this means. You can multiply the number of watts the heater uses by the number of hours you plan on using it.
2. Electric Space Heaters Are Not Really Efficient
If you are looking to save money by using a space heater, there is only one method. You need to focus on heating a single room for a limited period of time using a portable heater and turn down the central heat throughout the rest of the house. However, if you are using the electric heater, as well as keeping your HVAC on or simply leaving the heater running all the time, your bill will skyrocket.
In addition, they only heat up the space they are in. You really need to ask yourself just how cold it is in your room. And frankly, how hard does your space heater need to work to keep it warm?
Let’s begin with a basic notion: space heaters are considerably less energy efficient than HVAC systems. If you are looking to save money, the solution is not replacing the heating system with room heaters. Plus, space heaters are incredibly time-consuming, as you need to walk around the house switching heaters on and off. Not to mention that they represent a potential fire hazard.
3. They Can Be a Hazard
Even though electric space heaters are safe and avoid air quality concerns, they still represent a potential burn and fire hazard. This is why they need to be treated cautiously. Here are a few facts you might want to consider when using them:
- Portable heaters are high-wattage devices and have the potential to ignite combustible materials found nearby like papers, sofas, beds, curtains, flammable liquids, and clothing. This is why it is very important not to leave the heater on when unattended, as a major fire could start.
- You mustn’t rely on them as your main source of warmth, as some of them use exposed heating sources which can easily reach 100 °F.
- Make sure there are 3 feet of space around heaters when they are in use or hot. By doing this, the risk of fire is considerably reduced.
- Avoid setting a heater on a carpet. Place them on hard floors or fire-proof surfaces.
- Make sure you have 10 watts of power for every square foot of floor area in the space you plan on heating. There is a real fire risk when it overheats a room and causes combustion.
- Don’t place the heater in areas where kids or pets can stumble on them. You don’t want kids or pets to run into the heater and get hurt. Plus, they could knock down the heater and cause a fire.
- Moisture is another aspect you need to consider, as it can cause electrical issues with your heater.
- Avoid using space heaters in a flooded basement. It might be best to use a dehumidifier or wet-dry vacuum and reach out to a plumber in case the problem is serious.
4. Electric Space Heaters Trip Breakers
Electric heaters are high current devices, which means that they can put quite the load on the circuit, especially when other appliances are plugged in the same one. If your house is wired with dedicated circuits, then you’ll need one for the heaters as well. If not, you need to be careful and ensure that the circuit does not overload.
For instance, a circuit breaker for a regular bedroom is usually 15 Amp. However, a 1500 watt space heater will draw 12.5 Amps. If other appliances are on the same circuit, like the television or the lights, the limit is quickly reached and the breaker will most likely trip. You need to reduce the load on that breaker to avoid making frequent trips to the panel to reset the breakers.
Moreover, you cannot use extension cords with space heaters, as these are not designed to handle the current load. Plus, the cords themselves can be a fire hazard. Power taps, power strips, plug-in type air fresheners should also not be used with heaters.