Staying warm with electric heat

Electric heaters provide targeted warmth quickly and efficiently. Read on to learn which heater is right for you, and how to make sure it keeps running all winter.

Staying warm with electric heat

Cove heaters

  • Installed just below the ceiling, these heaters direct radiant heat straight down to the floor.
  • Insulated tile or other hard-surface flooring is best suited to holding and releasing a cove heater's warmth.

Wall heaters

  • This type of heater is mounted between two wall studs, its front grill usually flush with the wall's surface.
  • Most are intended for heating a single room, require a dedicated electrical circuit and include a built-in thermostat.
  • In radiant versions, a reflective back panel directs heat from electric heater coils out into the room.
  • Convective units have a fan that circulates heated air.

Baseboard and kick-space heaters

  • Inconspicuous and low to the ground, these heaters keep your feet toasty as they spread warmth in a room.
  • Baseboard styles use passive convection heat (cool air is drawn through the unit's lower slot, rises as it flows past the heating element, and exits through a top vent).
  • Under-cabinet toe-kick models use fan-forced convection controlled by a thermostat.

Portable space heaters

  • These convenient heaters come in radiant, convection, ceramic convection, and liquid-filled models.
  • In general, radiant heaters are best for heating a small space quickly.
  • Choose a convection heater to distribute warm air quickly in a large space.
  • Ceramic heaters are usually small and therefore good for countertop and under-the-desk use.
  • Liquid-filled units are very efficient and quiet.

Keep your electric heater running efficiently

  • Clean up before it gets cold. Accumulated dust and debris can hinder an electrical unit's heating speed and output, which is why it's best to clear away off-season buildup before the weather gets chilly.
  • With the heater off and cool, carefully vacuum the heating element, reflector surface, and housing using a brush attachment.
  • When they're not being used, store portable space heaters in their original packaging or in plastic garbage bags that you've tied shut.
  • Fix fan problems. If the fan in a fan-equipped convection heater stops spinning, shut off the heater, unplug it, allow it to cool, then do a little investigating.
  • If the blades seem jammed, remove the heater cover for access and clear away any debris.
  • Give the fan a spin by hand to see if bent components are the problem; try straightening them out, if possible, with pliers. If the fan seems to be loose, tighten the set screw at the fan's hub. If none of this does the trick, the fan motor may be defective.
  • Plug heaters directly into a wall outlet. Don't plug them into an extension cord as most don't have sufficient capacity.
  • Make sure it's out of the path of children and pets, and supervise traffic when the heat is on.
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