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Using space heaters safely

December 15, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

The Upper Peninsula Power Co. has provided "best practices" when using space heaters.

Electric space heaters can help homeowners stay warm this winter if used appropriately and safely.

There are substantial energy costs associated with operating multiple space heaters in a home or office. UPPCO?advises using a space heater in a smaller confined area or office work space to provide supplemental heat that the building's regular heating system cannot provide. Space heaters are not intended to heat an entire house.

If a supplemental space heater is used in home heating, UPPCO recommends turning down the house thermostat a few degrees and then using a space heater in the area that is occupied the most.

Keep space heaters isolated from the house's thermostat so the thermostat doesn't react inappropriately to the warmer room temperature. In those cases, the thermostat would not allow the furnace to operate, causing the rest of the house to become cold.

The down side to space heaters is that they use a lot of electricity and are somewhat costly to operate. A typical electric space heater using 1,500 watts of power can cost more than 20 cents an hour to operate. Using one space heater 24 hours a day for one month, for instance, would add $160 to your electric bill.

If multiple space heaters are used, electric consumption would increase substantially, costing the customer a lot of money. Multiple heaters in a home, according to UPPCO, can add $300 to $400 a month to a customer's electric bill.

Another concern with using multiple space heaters is the increased electric load on the home's circuitry. The typical space heater can tie up more than 80 percent of a standard 15-amp circuit found in a typical home. The circuit breaker could easily trip as a safety measure.

There is also a potential fire risk associated with space heaters. Space heaters using a filament can get red-hot. Children and pets should be kept far away from space heaters.

Again, space heaters can help homeowners stay warm if used safely and appropriately.



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