Some homes have rooms that just feel chillier than other areas of the home. This could be an insulation issue, or it also could be that homeowners just don’t use these spaces often and close them off. Some older homes could lack central heating, too. To warm up cooler spaces, homeowners might use electric heaters.
The larger the room, though, the more energy it might take to heat. Energy-efficient electric heaters for large rooms can add warmth to the space while conserving energy. Opting for energy-efficient heating options also can keep electricity costs in check.
Space Heater Safety
While space heaters help warm up a room in a home, there are downsides to these portable heaters. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) explains that space heaters “…are high-wattage appliances that have the potential to ignite nearby combustible materials like curtains, beds, sofas, paper, clothing, and flammable liquids.”
The CPSC advises that consumers should not:
- Plug these appliances into power strips
- Use a broken heater
- Leave the appliance unattended
- Place the heater next to anything that could catch on fire (i.e. drapes, beds, etc.)
- Place the electric cord of the heater beneath carpet, rugs, etc.
- Use the heater near water
According to CPSC, homeowners who want to use these appliances also should ensure that the heater is securely plugged into an outlet, is set on a sturdy surface and has been tested for safety (OSHA mark); in addition, they should periodically check the cord, plug, outlet, faceplate, etc. to make sure that the appliance isn’t overheating.
What Heater is the Most Energy Efficient?
ENERGY STAR explains that the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t certify portable electric heaters for the ENERGY STAR qualification. So how do homeowners find the most energy-efficient electric heater for large rooms?
This could take a bit of extra research for the consumer. However, Just Energy published an article explaining that perhaps homeowners shouldn’t look at the energy-efficiency of the heater but the heating efficiency of the appliance.
Appliance Analyst compiled a list of the five cheapest electric heaters to operate. Infrared heaters took the top spot, followed by oil heaters, storage heaters, ceramic heaters and space heaters. Homeowners might focus on what type of electric heater is the least expensive option.
Another Type of Space Heater
Homes that offer a fireplace could provide homeowners with another inexpensive way to heat spaces of their home. Wood burning fireplaces might seem like cheap heat sources, but they actually let heat escape. Gas fireplaces, though, could be a more energy-efficient option.
While using a fireplace can help warm up a room or the home, using a fireplace also could be a fire hazard. Homeowners need to make sure their chimney is clean and has been serviced (once a year!). Fireplace upkeep is an important part of safety.
HealthyChildren.org also explains that any potential fire hazard (like drapes, papers, etc.) needs to be kept away from the fireplace. Safety screens also are recommended. The site notes that the flue or damper needs to be opened before using the fireplace, ashes should be cleaned out, dry wood should be used (avoid green and wet wood). In addition homeowners should check the chimney for nests or other debris (use a flashlight), install a carbon monoxide detector, don’t leave the fire unattended and keep a fire extinguisher nearby!
Reasons for a Cold(er) Home
Before using any portable heater in a home that has central heating, homeowners might want to determine any underlying causes of a cooler home. If some rooms are cooler than others, a leaky window or poor insulation could be the culprit.
Homeowners also might want to check the vents in each room. Make sure vents are open and that air is flowing freely. Homeowners also should check the air filter in their HVAC system; these should be swapped out regularly. If the filter looks dirty, toss it and replace it!
If homeowners notice circulation issues, they should call an HVAC pro. In addition, there also could be other issues related to the HVAC. Is cold air coming out of the vents instead of warm air? Once again…call a professional!
Of course, if everything checks out, homeowners also might opt to bump up the thermostat on their HVAC instead of using a separate heater. Of course, choosing to bump up the thermostat also could increase the bill. However, if the central heat runs on gas, and if gas is less expensive than electricity, it could be more economical to opt for a warmer central temperature.
While there aren’t any ENERGY STAR electric heaters, there are different options for energy-efficient heaters for large rooms. The most economical choice for an electric heater is an infrared heater. Smaller space heaters might be the least economical. However, whatever electric heater is chosen for a room, homeowners need to operate these appliances safely.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA): “Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment each year in 2014-2018. These fires resulted in annual losses of 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage.” Never leave heaters unattended, and follow all safety guidelines when using portable heating options.