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Using a Space Heater: How Dangerous is It?


Because the winters in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz area aren't particularly cold, sometimes it can feel like a space heater is all you need. While these heaters are convenient, they're not always the best choice.


When you need a little extra warmth in a small space, such as your bathroom or home office, a space heater can seem like the perfect way to get it. Just bring in the heater and plug it in. Because these heaters are highly energy inefficient, however, relying on them can run up your electric bill fast.

They also pose a very real fire risk. Space heaters are the most common cause of heating-related fires and were involved in 84 percent of deaths caused by home-heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association's most recent statistics.


If you decide to use a portable space heater, place it on a stable, flat surface a minimum of three feet away from anything that can burn, such as curtains, bedding or papers. Never leave the unit unattended while running. Frequently check for damage such as frayed wires and never use a damaged heater.

While infrared space heaters are more efficient than other electric models, all are inefficient compared to more permanent heating methods and no space heater can provide enough heat to warm an entire home.

If you currently heat with an electric furnace or baseboard heaters, but your home is chilly and your heating bills are high, consider upgrading to a ducted heat pump or a ductless heating system.

In the case of just one cold room, make sure it isn't caused by a problem such as a blocked duct, air-locked radiator or poor weatherization. If there's no obvious problem, but the room still needs extra heat, possible solutions include installing a toe-kick heater, cove heater or duct-booster fan. For more energy-efficient heating in a large room, a ductless system is another option.

Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at (408) 868-5500.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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