Space Heater Hazards: Be Safe and Aware

Posted on Jan 14 2024 in Bartholomew County REMC
Woman with space heater

How much is that space heater really costing you? Many electric space heaters advertise that they can slash your electric bill, but they don’t advertise that they can also cause that bill to increase significantly. Whether it’s a standard electric space heater you see at Lowe’s, Menard’s, or Wal-Mart or a “ruby quartz” or “infrared” souped-up model advertised in a newspaper or billboard, the thing you need to be concerned about is simply how much power the unit consumes. This is most commonly given in watts. Check the box or the unit itself for this information.

Many electric space heaters are rated at 1,500 watts, regardless of their looks. This rating is how much power the space heater uses. You are billed for each kilowatt-hour of electricity you consume. A thousand watts is equal to one kilowatt, so 1,500 watts is equal to 1.5 kilowatts. This means that for each hour the space heater is running, it consumes 1.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which costs about 15 cents. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? But running that heater nonstop is a surefire way to increase your bill. Running one 1,500-watt space heater for 18 hours a day for a single month would cost about $81. That’s on top of your regular bill.

So, where are the savings that are often touted on such items?

An electric space heater can save you money, but only if you reduce the running time of your electric furnace or other primary heating system. A space heater could reduce your electric bill, for instance, if you lowered the thermostat on your electric furnace from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 66 degrees Fahrenheit and used the space heater to heat a single occupied room to a comfortable temperature. If, however, you’re using the space heater to heat an area of your home that is typically not heated, such as an enclosed porch, then the space heater is simply an additional cost to your electric bill.

Also, keep in mind that if you’re using an electric space heater to supplement a propane furnace, you may see a drop in the amount of propane you use, but your electric bill will still increase because of the addition of the heater. Electric space heaters can provide an effective and simple means of heating that cold, unconditioned tool shed, bedroom, or other relatively small space. Still, you should always follow safety precautions to prevent injuries and fires.

Fact: Space heaters are involved in 79% of home heating fire deaths.


Follow these easy space heater safety tips:

  • Never leave a running space heater unattended.
  • Never run a space heater for 24 hours straight.
  • Keep flammable materials, such as furniture, clothing, mattresses, bedding, and curtains, at least 3 feet away from the unit.
  • Never use a space heater near paint, gas cans, or matches.
  • Place the heater on a level, flat surface away from children and pets.
  • Never leave a space heater running in a child’s room.
  • If the heater must be plugged into an extension cord, use a 14-gauge or larger heavy-duty cord.