Electric space heater usage
If you are considering an electric space heater you plug into the wall, consider these facts before making that purchase. These electric space heaters usually have a round face and oscillate (move from side to side like a fan). Most electric space heaters are around 1500 watts on the highest setting, and some allow you to adjust the watts to 750. (All electric space heaters are equally efficient. Just make sure you get one rated as 1500 watts, so you can heat your room quickly.)
An oil-filled space heater that you plug into the wall use electricity to heat the oil inside, so there’s no actual combustion. They use about the same amount of electricity as electric-element units.
Space heater safety
Even though electric heaters are safer than gas heaters, they are typically more expensive to operate. You will be less likely to accidentally blow up your house, and you also won’t have to breathe the byproducts of combustion with electric heat.
Oil-filled radiators are safer than the red, glowing heaters with a fan inside. That’s because the oil-filled heaters distribute their heat throughout the whole unit, and not any one part gets hot enough to start a fire easily. The downside of the radiators is that they take a while to put out any amount of heat that you can feel. If you’re cold right now you’ll prefer the fan-blow heaters, even though they’re not quite as safe.
Electric heaters are safer than they used to be. Almost all of them now will automatically shut off if they get tipped over. Check the specs on the model you are thinking about purchasing. Make sure your circuit has enough capacity. A 1500-watt heater alone will eat up 12.5 of a 15-amp circuit. If you overload a circuit then the household wiring can heat up in the walls and start a fire. If possible, put each heater on a dedicated circuit.
CAUTION: Use only super-thick extension cords for heaters. If you’re putting a space heater on an extension cord, make sure the cord is 12-gauge. (The smaller the number, the thicker the cable, so 14-gauge is worse than 12-gauge; not better.)
Gas space heaters are more powerful than their electric counterparts, and often cheaper to operate, but they’re usually more dangerous (more likely to accidentally burn your house down), and you’ll have to breathe the byproducts of combustion, which isn’t healthy.
Radiant heat panel heaters have a flat panel that secures to a ceiling or wall and plugs into an electrical outlet (or it can be hard-wired in to the house’s electrical system). Electricity heats metal elements inside the panel. The panels range in size from 1’x2′ to 4’x8′, and energy consumption ranges from 100 watts to 3000 watts. Manufacturers include Thermal Inc. and SSHC. A related option is radiant ceiling film.
Hydronic radiators circulate warm water, whose heat is then radiated into the room.
With a Hydronic floor system, water is heated by gas, oil, or electricity, and then circulated through plastic tubing which runs under the floor or along the walls or ceiling. If on the walls or ceiling, the tubing may be concealed by plastic or metal panels. These are most efficient if they’re in the floor, because warm air rises, and because keeping your feet warm makes you feel warmer overall. An electric-fueled system can easily use 1000-3000 watts to heat a small efficiency apartment.
Electric floor system heat is virtually the same as above, but the warmth comes from low-voltage electrical wires, not piped water.
Keep your feet warm because if your feet are cold, your whole body will be cold. Keep your feet warm and you’ll be more comfortable at lower temperatures. If you have bare floors, put down some rugs. Wear thick socks at a minimum, and preferably good slippers. You can even go with heated slippers – YOU KNOW – the one’s that grandma gets for you every year and everyone laughs about but secretly wears!
WHAT THE PROS KNOW: Using ceiling fans is one of the most important things you can do. They use very little electricity and make a BIG difference in your comfort level. All ceiling fans come with instructions on installation, but if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself and you can’t afford to hire someone, just get a regular box fan, put it on the highest shelf you have, and aim it at the ceiling. Fans of any type use very little electricity.