Using Space Heaters to Keep Warm

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

Spend much of your time in only one room of your home? Using a space heater there, while keeping the over-all house temperature lower, can save you significant money. In fact, keeping the thermostat at 62 degrees and putting a space heater in one room can save up to $200 a year.

Space heaters are classified as vented and unvented. Unvented combustion units are not recommended for use inside your home, as they introduce unwanted combustion products into the living space, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and water vapor. The units also deplete the air in the space where they are located.

Vented units are designed to be permanently located next to an outside wall, so that the flue gas vent can be installed through a ceiling or directly through the wall to the outside. Sealed combustion heaters are much safer to operate than other types of space heaters, and operate more efficiently because they do not draw in the heated air from the room and exhaust it to the outdoors. They are also less likely to adversely affect indoor air quality.

Electric space heaters are generally more expensive to operate than combustion space heaters, but they are the only unvented space heaters that are safe to operate inside your home. Although electric space heaters avoid indoor air quality concerns, they still carry hazards of potential burns and fires, and should be used with caution.

In addition to the manufacturer’s installation and operating instructions, you should follow these general safety guidelines for operating any combustion space heater:

  • For liquid-fueled heaters, use only the approved fuel. Never use gasoline! Follow the manufacturer’s fueling instructions. Never fill a heater that is still hot. Do not overfill the heater; you must allow for the expansion of the liquid. Only use approved containers clearly marked for that particular fuel, and store them outdoors.
  • Have vented space heaters professionally inspected every year. If the heater is not vented properly, not vented at all, or if the vent is blocked, separated, rusted, or corroded, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can enter the home causing sickness and death.

Whatever type of space heater you use in your home, always heed this safety rule:

* Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets (and of course, anything flammable) away from the heater. Be warm but safe!

Resource: energysavers.gov