Are Portable Space Heaters Efficient for My Home?
By Abby Berry
Punxsutawney Phil has spoken and predicted six more weeks of winter. With that chilly thought in mind you might be thinking about turning on a small space heater to get warmer, but will they really save you money?
Small space heaters are meant to do exactly as their name says: heat a small space. But unfortunately, many people use portable space heaters to heat their entire home, which can really take a toll on your energy bills. The truth is, whether you should use space heaters really depends on your home’s efficiency and energy needs.
If you’re using a space heater to compensate for problems in your home, like inadequate insulation, drafty windows and exterior doors, or an inefficient heating system, space heaters are not a practical solution. Your best bet is to improve the overall efficiency of your home. If you’re on a tight budget, caulking and weather stripping around windows and exterior doors is a low-cost, easy way to save energy. Depending on the size of your home, adding insulation can be a great next step. Loose fill insulation typically costs $1 to $1.50 per square foot. CEC even offers an incentive to those with little to no insulation. More details on home weatherization incentives and other ways to improve your home comfort can be found at www.cec.coop/customer-service/energy-efficiency. Taking these proactive energy-saving measures rather than relying on space heaters for supplemental warmth can reduce your heating and cooling bills for years to come.
Perhaps your home is energy efficient but you’re cold-natured and want a specific room to be cozier than the rest. In this case, a space heater may work for your needs. A good comparison is ceiling fans; we use ceiling fans in the summer to cool people, not rooms. A space heater can be used in a similar way during winter months. Only use a space heater in small spaces that you’re occupying and, if possible, try to shut off the room you are in to contain the warmth provided by the space heater. If you decide to use a space heater to heat a small area in your home, make sure the heater is properly sized for the space; most heaters include a general sizing table.
Consider alternative ways to stay warm like extra layers of clothing or UL-approved electric blankets. If you have hardwood or tile floors, lay down area rugs to provide additional insulation (and appeal!) and maintain warmth.
We know it’s cold out there, but remember in addition to safety concerns, space heaters can greatly increase your energy bills if used improperly.
If you’re looking for alternative ways to save energy and increase comfort in your home, contact CEC at (541) 548-2144. We’re here to help you manage your energy use.