Preventing space heater fires
Reliable Heating & Air Dan Jape. Find a way to keep your house safe by preventing space heater fires
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Preventing space heater fires
Space Heater Fires: The Biggest Reason Not
to Use Them
Need more than one reason not to use a space heater? Space heater fires are the cause of 79
percent of fires in the home that cause death, according to the National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA). That statistic alone should be reason enough not to use them. But in the
effort to combat high energy costs, some homeowners in Alpharetta opt to supplement their
central heating systems with space heaters, ignoring the relevant safety concerns. The simple
truth is that space heaters aren’t safe, and they don’t significantly lower heating costs, either.
The Risk of Space Heater Fires
There are a number of well-documented risks associated with using space heaters. Based on
evidence collected over several years, the NFPA reports that:
One third of fires in the home are caused by space heaters.
Four out of five deaths due to fires are caused by space heaters.
Poor maintenance contributes to the fire hazard and is the cause of 28 percent of home
heating fires. Failing to properly clean the heater leads to dirt buildup from which a fire
will quickly ignite.
People who use space heaters aren’t vigilant enough to avoid the biggest contributor to
fires: flammable items such as curtains, furniture, bedding and so on that are close to the
heater. Fifty-three percent of deaths related to home heating fires are a result of the space
heater igniting flammable items close-by.
Energy Savings: Yes or No?
The significant risks of using space heaters should be more than enough to make homeowners
reluctant to use them, but people may not be aware of another drawback: It is actually a myth
that space heaters lead to big energy savings.
Space heaters are a seemingly logical heating solution for areas of the home that don’t receive
heating. People might try to use them in parts of their homes that don’t have easy access to
heating, like in a remodeled space in an attic or above a garage, or in rooms that are difficult to
keep warm. Some homeowners use space heaters to try to lower the costs of running a furnace,
thinking that turning down the thermostat while supplementing heating with space heaters will
result in savings. That turns out to be a false assumption.
A Cornell University study shows that savings from space heaters are negligible and generally
not worth the high risk of fires that they pose. The study compared the costs of heating a 1,200-
square-foot home at 70 degrees and 60 degrees, with the latter temperature supplemented by a
space heater. Lowering the home’s temperature by 10 degrees saved 50 to 80 cents, depending
on the fuel used, while the cost to run a space heater in just one room over that time was 52
cents. So it’s possible that you may save a few pennies if the cost to run your furnace is high and
you pay a decent price for electricity. In the absence of significant savings, however, it’s not
worth putting your home and family at risk.
The possibility of space heater fires alone should be enough to deter homeowners from using
space heaters. Safer, high-return alternatives exist. If you’d like to find a more efficient way to
heat your home, such as a high-efficiency air-source heat pump or furnace, contact Reliable
Heating & Air. We also provide diagnostic services to investigate specific heating issues in your