Portable heaters (aka space heaters) can be used to provide an efficient and economical source of supplemental heating to areas of your home. Because more than 25,000 residential fires and over 300 deaths occur every year due to the use of space heaters, it is important to spend time researching models before making a purchase. And, particular attention must be paid to the safe use of the heater after it has been properly installed in an appropriate location.

Energy.gov provides the following guidelines to use when buying and installing a small space heater:

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features, such as automatic shutoff in case they are tipped over.
  • Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • To avoid energy waste, consider choosing a heater that uses a thermostat to regulate temperature.
  • Do not purchase oversized heaters. Use the sizing table that accompanies the model of heater you are considering purchasing to make sure it is the correct size for the area where it will be used.

After you have installed a space heater, follow these safety tips, provided by the National Fire Protection Association, to help prevent injuries and/or fires:

  • Maintain a three-foot “kid-free” and “pet-free” zone around portable heaters.
  • Keep things that burn at least three feet away from all heating equipment. This includes paper, bedding, furniture upholstery, draperies, and clothes.
  • Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Never use an extension cord with space heaters. Plug them directly into the outlet.
  • Inspect the heater before each use. Look for signs of cracking or damage to the cords or connections. If repairs are needed, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and ensure only qualified professionals work on the unit.

Sources: www.energy.gov and www.nfpa.org