It’s nearly winter and in much of the country, that means it’s time to heat our homes. In a perfect world, your heating system would be effective and efficient, heating each room comfortably and uniformly, creating a temperature that’s pleasing to everyone in the home. In reality, however, that simply isn’t the case. Some heating systems leave something to be desired. Some rooms are drafty or difficult to heat. Some rooms may need a temporary warm-up. Some people prefer warmer room temperatures than others. Heating can be one of our major household expenses during winter months. Rather than turning up the thermostat throughout the house, a good solution to create affordable, localized warmth is the use of a space heater.
Space heaters are portable units which raise the temperature of a small area. They come in both electric and gas models. Because the burning of gas requires adequate ventilation, gas heating units for indoor use need to be permanently installed with venting. Their best portable use is to heat well-ventilated areas like garages.
For the purposes of this article, let’s discuss electric space heaters for warming up the cold corners of your home. Which ones will fit your needs and your room quickly, efficiently and economically?
If you’re looking to purchase a space heater this season, you’ll soon learn by walking the aisles of your local home improvement store that the choices can be overwhelming. Electric space heaters come in several types, each with distinct features. Here’s some intel to help you navigate your choices:
Radiant – These heaters create warmth by using a heating element that emits and directs infrared rays.
- creates immediate heat
- small area / localized heating
- inexpensive to operate
Convection – These create warmth by using a heating element to heat permanently sealed heat-transfer liquid such as oil. The heat emanates from the liquid, warming the room.
- creates long-term, whole-room heating
- ideal for frequently-used areas of the home
- may take some time to create heat
- not easy to tip over
- heavy but are often on wheels and have a handle
- can be hot to the touch
- some may have fans that can be noisy
Fan-forced ceramic – These are a subcategory of convection heaters which feature a ceramic disc heating element with a fan which distributes warm air.
- creates directional heat flow
- stays cool to the touch
Panel – These heaters represent some of the newest in heating technology. Also known as micathermic heaters, they operate by combining the processes of radiant and convection heating.
- reach full power within minutes
- release 80% convection and 20% radiant heat throughout the room
- heat even a large area twice as fast as a convection heater
In addition to choosing the best type of space heater to supplement your central heat, you’ll want to be certain that the one you choose is powerful enough to do the job. Use the formula, 10 watts per square foot, to calculate how many watts the heater needs for your room to be adequately heated.
And, last – but most importantly – safety. Energy.gov recommends that:
- Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger.
- Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.
Space heaters are an efficient way to bump up the temperature when and where you need to without paying to heat up the entire house. They’re a smart investment for your comfort and your pocketbook.
What type of space heater do you use to warm your chilly areas?