Tips for buying a space heater

December 26, 2014

When winter comes around, knowing how and when to buy a space heater can save you from huddling under your blankets around the clock. Here's what you need to know to get the best space heater for your home or office.

Tips for buying a space heater

Types of space heaters

Radiant: Radiant space heaters, such as ceramic space heaters, are fast and effective at heating objects around them, making them great spot heaters for smaller rooms and areas.

Radiator space heaters: These look like conventional radiators and they’re filled with oil warmed by electricity. They’re efficient since oil retains heat well.

Convection: Convection heaters create a lasting warmth throughout a large area by heating up the air in your home. They also make less noise than other space heaters.

Gas heater: Gas heaters, like the kerosene heater or propane heater, are fast and powerful. They are often less expensive to operate than electric heaters, but they're only safe to operate in open and well-ventilated areas, such as screened-in porches and patios. They pose a carbon-monoxide risk if used inside.

Space heater features

Before buying a space heater, consider the safety features and energy-efficiency.

  • Overheating sensor: Look for space heaters that turn off automatically if they reach an unsafe temperature
  • Knockdown switch: Choose a heater that turns itself off if the unit tips over
  • Cool surface/heater guard: To avoid serious burns or fire, buy a heater with a cool surface or one with a guard around the heating element – especially important when children or pets are present
  • Multiple heat settings: For maximum cost and energy efficiency, consider a space heater with several heat settings
  • Timer: A timer allows you to save on energy costs by turning the heater on and off automatically as needed
  • Fan: Space heaters with fans distribute heat faster and oscillating models do it even faster
  • Remote control: With a remote control, you can change your heater’s settings from anywhere in a room

Factors to consider when buying a space heater

  • Electric vs. fuel burning: Buy electric heaters for indoor use and fuel-burning heaters for outdoor areas
  • Heating capacity: Find the right size and wattage heater for a room so it warms up quickly without wasting energy
  • Energy-efficiency: Some heaters feature energy saving modes to reduce consumption and cost. However, you’ll only save energy if the heat is turned down in other areas of the home
  • Noise: Silent heaters are available for bedrooms and offices
  • Portability: Some heaters are designed for portability and are better suited for anyone who wants to use one heater in various parts of their home.

When choosing a new space heater, look for modern safety features as well as those extra conveniences you'll come to appreciate in the long run. You'll be grateful for that remote control and quiet operation when you're snuggling up under the covers and in the mood to stay there.

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