IF THE SOUND of the furnace blowing out warm air at night feels like money draining out of your pocketbook, you are not alone. Many people rely on alternate forms of heating, such as electric heaters, to cut down on their energy expenses and keep warm during a cold winter’s night. However, space heaters are generally regarded as unsafe for use while sleeping, so follow this advice carefully to stay comfortable and still wake up in the morning.
How Do Electric Heaters Work?
Portable electric heaters work in one of two different ways. The more expensive, effective and efficient models use infrared radiation to heat up the area near the heater. Other models rely on convection, which is the movement of air over a heated surface to circulate throughout the room. Convection heaters can dry out your skin, if you are located in the path of the warm air.
Electric heaters, also known as space heaters, are designed to keep a small area warm. They come in different sizes and unique features, including temperature settings, timers and automatic shut-off functions. The larger the unit, the larger the room it can heat, and the more energy it consumes.
Are Space Heaters Safe?
Most government organizations argue that space heaters are not safe to keep in the home, particularly at night. Ironically, the problem with space heaters is that they can become hot. If they do not have adequate airflow on both the intake side and the output side, they may ignite inflammable clothing or other materials.
As a result, the National Fire Protection Association notes that space heaters are involved in 79 percent of fatal home heating fires. In addition, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission claims that 6,000 people visit the emergency room each year for burns related to contact with electric heaters.
Can I Save Money Using an Electric Heater?
Putting an electric heater in your bedroom may or may not save you money, depending on the other heating systems in the home. If you have central heating, it is more cost-effective to heat your home using a furnace than it is to use several electric heaters in different rooms.
However, in areas with milder temperatures, you may save some money by running a space heater temporarily in your bedroom before you go to bed. Electricity is usually more expensive than natural gas or heating oil, but an electric heater uses much less energy to heat a smaller space. Just make sure that you are not letting the rest of your house freeze, including your plumbing. That creates an entirely different problem you do not want to deal with.
How Else Can I Stay Warm at Night?
The major safety concern related to running electric heaters at night is that you are not awake to attend to any problems that arise. As a result, experts suggest that if you must use a room heater, use it while you are awake. Run the electric heater periodically in the evening, to ensure that your bedroom temperature is comfortably warm (but not too warm) before you go to sleep. If your bedroom gets too cold in the later part of the night, consider investing in a hot water bottle or two to put under the covers 20-30 minutes before you climb in. Latest models are leak-proof, inexpensive and will stay warm for several hours.
No one wants to be ice-cold as they sleep, but running an electric heater while you snooze may be a recipe for disaster. With these tips, you can use space heaters as safely as possible.