With energy prices soaring and the temperature dropping, we know that many Middletown, NY, homeowners will turn to space heaters to warm up while cutting some utility bills. Space heaters make sense for people who only need one or two of their home’s rooms to stay warm at any given time. The trouble is that space heaters present some serious risks if misused. That’s why the team here at WK Mechanical, Inc. has put together this guide on how to use space heaters safely this winter. So, before you decide to use one, read our safety tips.
The Dangers of Space Heaters
Before we discuss how you can use space heaters safely in your home, we thought it appropriate to start with why you need to be careful. If you weren’t aware, space heaters pose a significant fire hazard when mishandled. According to the latest National Fire Protection Association data, space heaters caused 43% of US house fires last year. Worse still, they generated 85% of all deaths associated with home heating.
Before you conclude that space heaters are too risky to use, you should know that nothing can be further from the truth. They’re pretty safe when you use the right space heater and follow its instructions to the letter. However, people run into trouble when they disregard the operating instructions and use space heaters in ways not intended. The following tips will help you stay safe with a space heater.
1. Use a Tested and Approved Space Heater
The first safety tip you should follow is to use a space heater recently tested and approved by a reputable safety agency. Most space heaters will carry certifications from either Underwriter’s Laboratory — in the form of a UL sticker — or Intertek, otherwise known as ETL. If your space heater isn’t certified, or if you’re not sure if it is, don’t use it.
2. Follow the Three-foot Rule
The second tip is to follow the three-foot rule when using a space heater. This rule means you shouldn’t have anything flammable within a three-foot radius of your space heater. Flammable items include bedding, pillows, curtains, or paper. You should also keep space heaters away from paint cans, aerosol cans, fuel bottles or matches.
3. Don’t Leave Space Heaters Unattended
For maximum safety, you should also turn off any space heater you’re using before you leave the room. The same rule applies if you’re going to sleep. Leaving space heaters turned on while you’re not nearby or are asleep drastically increases the odds of a fire. In addition, it guarantees you won’t be able to react to contain a fire in the event one occurs.
4. Never Use Extension Cords
Another vital space heater safety tip is to avoid using extension cords to power them. Most extension cords can’t handle the wattage the average space heater requires. That means they could overheat, cause a fire, or cause the space heater to malfunction. The same thing goes for surge protectors, which you should avoid. Instead, it would be best if you constantly plugged space heaters into a wall outlet and nothing else.
5. Place Space Heaters on Flat, Level Floor Surfaces
Last but not least, you should always place your space heater on a flat, level floor surface before turning it on. Doing so decreases the odds of the space heater tipping over and causing a fire. If you need to direct heat to the upper part of a room, purchase a space heater that allows you to tilt its heating element upward. Whatever you do, never place a space heater on a stool or desk, and never try to angle a space heater by tilting or propping it up at an angle.
Consider an Efficient Home HVAC System
Of course, the best way to use a space heater is not to use one. However, if you’re thinking of turning to one to decrease your heating costs this winter, there’s a better option. You could contact us at WK Mechanical, Inc. to discuss a new, efficient home HVAC system. The latest HVAC models use far less energy than their predecessors. You might even want to consider a heat pump system, which uses heat in the outdoor air to heat your home — even in the cold Middletown winter!
We’d be happy to help you explore your heating options to find the right solution. We’ve served the Middletown area for over 75 years and pridefully offer comprehensive heating and cooling services to homeowners here. So, give us a call today to find out how we can help you to keep warm for less this winter.