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Space Heaters to Help Your Home Combat the Cold

December 19, 2014 | By

With Thanksgiving now a thing of the past, thoughts have turned toward Christmas. If it will be a white Christmas, there’s a decent chance it will also be a cold one.

Forecasts for the Northeast, Southeast, and the Southwest have already indicated that this winter will be snowy, soggy, and blustery, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. So many families will likely be found sitting in front of the fireplace to keep warm.

But if you don’t have a fireplace to gather around, there are other last-minute options you can turn to in a time of need: portable heaters. Here are a few kinds of space heaters to consider when things get too cold in your proverbial castle.

Radiant Oil-filled Heaters

Radiant heaters work by heating the surrounding surface areas of a room (like the floor and walls), thus ensuring a more concentrated delivery of heat.

Radiant oil-filled heaters can look like a radiator on wheels — although oil heaters use diathermic oil, while radiators primarily use hot water and steam. Radiant oil-filled heaters give off heat by using electricity to heat up the diathermic oil that they store. The heater radiates heat throughout the room as the oil circulates inside the machine.

These can be relatively pricier than other space heaters — prices can top $189.

Infrared Space Heaters

Infrared heaters are more intimate than other space heaters, mainly because they deliver heat to specific targets (such as a section of a room). These tend to be sleeker in design and use more sophisticated technology.

These can also be pricey — prices range from $35 to $260.

Propane and Kerosene Heaters

Having no electricity in your home while you’re in the thick of winter is a worst-case scenario — without electricity, your space heaters are useless.

There are other portable heaters that burn kerosene, propane, or natural gas to keep people warm. But these heaters can give off carbon monoxide as they work, not to mention the risks that come with using highly flammable fuels like propane and kerosene. Consumer Reports advises to only use these heaters in large ventilated areas like garages (except in the case of an extreme emergency).

Prices range from $99 to $250.

Baseboard Space Heaters

These are convection heaters, which take cold air and heat it with coils inside the machine. As the air is warmed, it is distributed throughout the room. They tend to be quieter than other heaters and can cost under $100.

Ceramic Heaters

Ceramic heaters may sometimes be small in stature, but they can deliver the heat. These kinds of convection heaters heat air with ceramic plates and aluminum parts, while a fan blows across these aluminum parts to disperse the heat. Ceramic heaters are also affordable: they can start as low as $17.

When settling on which heater you would like to buy, keep safety in mind: Portable electric heaters were blamed for approximately 1,200 fires between 2008 and 2010, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Since these heaters rely on electricity as a power source, there is a risk they can cause combustible things like beds, sofas, newspapers, or curtains to catch fire, the CPSC warns.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure that you have a heater that operates safely.

  • Buy new heaters that have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label on them. Be sure to inspect the cords of these heaters for any damage.
  • Situate your space heater at least three feet away from curtains, sofas, and clothes — and keep it away from foot traffic.
  • Check to see if your heater has been recalled.






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