Even though Jacksonville, FL has mild winters, night temperatures can fall into the 40s. This means you’ll want a way to keep your home warm. Of all the many ways to heat your home, setting up a space heater is easily the worst. These portable appliances are likely to start fires, especially when they’re used incorrectly. If you have yet to replace failing central heating equipment, discover why using a space heater could cause more harm than good.
Space Heaters Are Woefully Inefficient
Not all space heaters are created equally. Some are safer than others, and some do a far better job heating your living space. They are also far less energy efficient than fixed, permanent heating solutions for heating indoor areas and keeping them that way. Using a furnace, heat pump, or ductless mini-split, you’ll get more warmth for less money. Even low-cost baseboard heaters provide better value and convenience.
Unlike central heating units and mini-splits, space heaters don’t have annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings. These units aren’t meant for long-term or daily use and aren’t subjected to the same rigorous efficiency testing. They aren’t built for it.
Portable heaters also can’t heat a whole house. It is unable to properly distribute heat. Given their very modest heating capacity, these units rarely produce enough heat to offset losses caused by air leaks in building materials, poor insulation, and other environmental factors. This is why you can run a space heater all day and still have to huddle around it.
You Can Only Use a Space Heater to Heat a Single, Small-Sized Room
The limitations of space heaters are directly expressed in the name of these appliances. They’re meant for warming small spaces only. For instance, if you have cold feet while sitting at your desk, you can set up a space heater on the floor to beat back the chill. However, using one of these units to heat an entire living room will lead to frustration and unnecessarily high energy bills. This is especially true in homes with open-concept designs with few physical structures for trapping heat.
If your central heater has gone out, you’ll have to set up more than one space heater to keep everyone warm. Running each space heater is estimated to cost between $50 and $65 a month. Running multiple space heaters can easily cost $200 or more. You’ll incur this expense even as the building interior remains chilly overall.
Several safety problems come with running more than one portable heater at once. Plugging in two or more of these appliances can trigger your circuit breaker. There’s also the risk of someone forgetting that they have a space heater running and leaving it unattended.
Beware the Risk of Skin Burns
Many homeowners who rely on space heaters have old, outdated units that they’ve kept stored in their basements or attics for years. These units often have frayed cords, bent, broken, or missing heating elements, structural damage at their exterior, and other age- and wear-related problems.
Older space heaters also lack the many important failsafe measures and safety features of newer, more modern models. Consumers must avoid contact burns due to ultra-hot components when using these units. This proves especially challenging when you have small children at play, rambunctious pets, or aging adults with vision, balance, or cognition issues. If you must use a space heater, choose a model with built-in safety features such as automatic shutoff, a tip-over switch, and thermostats.
What to Remember When Using a Space Heater
According to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), space heaters are responsible for nearly 22,000 house fires annually. To effectively mitigate the risks of using a space heater, there are many things that you’ll have to remember.
Things to avoid when using a space heater include:
- Leaving space heaters unattended
- Using extension cords
- Running cords under carpets or furnishings
- Letting space heater run overnight
Buying used space heaters at thrift stores and garage sales is also advised against. You can never be sure how these units have been treated, their exact conditions, or the safety hazards they pose.
When using a space heater, you must remember to turn it off whenever you leave the room. This includes making quick trips to the bathroom, answering the door, taking a call, or checking on a family member in another area.
Don’t Use a Space Heater to Meet Your Nighttime Heating Needs
In Jacksonville, you often only need a heater after the sun goes down. Unfortunately, part of never leaving a space heater unattended is never using one while you sleep. That means you shouldn’t use a space heater when you often want it the most: nighttime.
Expect Your Energy Bills to Soar With Space Heating
Since they’re so small, it’s hard to imagine having a space heater drive your home energy bills sky-high. However, most estimates of the costs of regular space heater use don’t account for using these units eight hours a day or longer. You might have to do this if you have no other heating solution. Moreover, you’ll probably need to run more than one space heater simultaneously. Long run times and using multiple units are both safety hazards that increase the risk of heater malfunction and fires.
Heat Pumps and Furnaces Do More Than Heat Building Interiors
Even if you have a very small home and feel quite comfortable using a space heater, there’s still a lot that this unit cannot do. For instance, furnaces and heat pumps extract excess humidity from the air and filter out many common allergens and contaminants. When you take hot showers or baths or engage in steamy cooking projects, using a space heater alone could leave you with condensation-covered windows and drywall. That can lead to mold and mildew and a living space that feels colder than it is.
You’ll also have improved indoor air quality when you run a furnace, heat pump, or mini-split. The air filtration that central heating systems supply is largely intended to keep particulate debris out of the interior of heat pumps and furnaces. However, it also greatly reduces the amount of pet dander, pollen, dust, hair, and fur floating around your home.
Enjoy Efficient Heating With a Central Heater or Mini-Split
Heat pumps, mini-splits, and furnaces evenly heat your whole home. A good heat pump offers great energy efficiency in temperate winter climates like Jacksonville. Or you can choose a furnace with a high AFUE rating. Additionally, central heating systems and mini-splits will keep the whole house warm and can offset heat losses from windows, doors, and cracks in building materials.
We’ve been serving Jacksonville, FL since 2010. We offer expert furnace, heat pump, and air conditioner installation, maintenance, and repairs. We also provide ductless mini-splits, air duct replacement, HVAC zoning, and advanced indoor air quality solutions. To find out if a furnace or heat pump is right for your home, call Buehler Air Conditioning now.