Safety & Security

9 tips for safe space heater use

Avoid hazards while using these high-powered appliances

In the cold winter months, an electric space heater can efficiently warm small, enclosed areas of your home, such as bathrooms or bedrooms, and allow you to avoid costly bills associated with heating unoccupied areas of the house.

Space heaterBut like all appliances, space heaters must be used safely and responsibly. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States — responsible for more than 65,000 home fires each year.

PEC’s safety and energy service advisors encourage you to heat safely and responsibly this year using the following tips.

  • Space heaters require a lot of energy — about 10 amps — and can be dangerous if used with extension cords or power strips not rated for the high amperage. If possible, plug your space heater directly into the wall.
  • If you must plug your heater into a power strip, make sure the strip is rated for a minimum of 15 amps, and avoid plugging other appliances into the strip during use.
  • Never use a heater you suspect may be damaged. Inspect your heater before you use it to ensure the cord is not frayed or cracked.
  • During use, frequently check to determine if the heater plug or cord, wall outlet, or faceplate is hot. If so, discontinue use immediately and contact an electrician.
  • Turn off space heaters when you leave a room or go to sleep. Never leave them on unattended.
  • Keep heaters at least three feet away from flammable materials, and do not use them to cook food or warm bedding or clothing.
  • Ensure the heater is on a level, stable surface where it cannot be knocked over.
  • Never run a space heater cord beneath a carpet or rug. This can damage the cord and create a fire hazard.
  • Prevent the risk of electric shock. Never touch a heater with wet hands.

Stay safe this winter! Get more safety tips and energy conservation tips from our experts.