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How to Use Space Heaters Safely

If you deal with the Calgary winter by using a space heater in a chilly room, be sure you practice the utmost caution when it’s running. While they’re convenient and inexpensive to buy, they have an unfortunate downside when it comes to safety.

  • Keep them at least a meter away from combustible materials, like draperies, upholstered furniture, and bedding.
  • Never use an extension cord or power strip to power them. They need to be plugged directly into a wall outlet. They draw considerable electricity and an outlet not rated for their amperage will overheat, causing a fire.
  • Only buy UL-certified devices that shut themselves off automatically if they’re tipped.
  • Open a window for fresh air if you use an unvented heater. Even though they use oxygen depletion sensors and promise complete combustion, they do emit small amounts of gases, including carbon monoxide. Never use such a heater when napping or sleeping.

Besides posing safety risks, many space heaters are energy inefficient, especially electric heaters. If you use a space heater routinely, consider these safer and more energy efficient options.

  • Ductless mini split heat pumps. A high efficiency mini split heat pump can heat a well-insulated space, like a garage, finished basement, or room addition. Heat pumps offer substantial energy efficiency and it will also provide summertime cooling. They’re easy to install, quiet, and some units have upgraded filters that improve indoor air quality.
  • Vented gas heaters. Ideal for garages, a vented heater can burn natural gas or propane. It vents its combustion gases to the outdoors, eliminating the concern of CO and other harmful combustion gases.
  • Vented space heaters. Often designed as decorative fireplaces, these heaters are available in capacities to heat rooms from small to moderate. They vent the combustion gases outdoors and recognized as safe for prolonged use.

A space heater is a convenient way to spot heat small spaces for short periods, but prolonged use drives up energy bills and poses a home hazard. If you’d like more information about alternatives, contact Arpi’s Industries, providing HVAC services for Calgary homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about space heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide.

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