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Using a Space Heater to Save Energy

Space heaters are useful primarily because they're a cheap and portable alternative or complement to central heating. Unlike central heating, which warms up your entire home and can take a long time to have much of an impact, portable space heaters deliver heat only where you need it.

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Keep in mind, however, that using a space heater won't save you money unless you turn down the thermostat.

Portable Space Heaters.

If your strategy is to keep the temperature in your home low to control utility costs and use a space heater where necessary to keep warm, it helps to have a portable space heater you can carry from room to room. Some expensive space heaters that give off a lot of heat are quite large and more or less stationary. Our low-cost picks, on the other hand, are small and highly portable. The Lasko 754200, Holmes HCH5250B-TG, Honeywell HZ-0360, and Optimus H-4110 even have handles for easy transport.

Energy-Efficient Space Heaters.

The federal government does not include space heaters in the Energy Star labeling program, so it's difficult to declare any space heater more efficient than another. What consumers can do is choose the most efficient type of space heater for their purposes. Radiant space heaters with quartz tubes excel at heating people sitting or standing in front of them but are not particularly efficient or effective at warming an entire room. The Optimus H-4110 uses only 300 watts -- less than all the other discount space heaters we researched even at their lowest settings -- but it likely won't generate as much heat. Convection space heaters use a lot of energy and can run up your electric bill, but if you use one for spot or supplemental heating, you should realize some overall savings. The trick is to use the space heater only where and when you need it and keep the temperature down in the rooms you're not using. Most cheap space heaters are equally efficient at converting electricity to heat and can be a money-saving alternative to heating up a whole house or apartment.

Space Heater Settings.

Electric space heaters with adjustable thermostats turn on and off automatically to maintain a relatively constant temperature. They save energy by ceasing to run when the desired temperature has been reached. The Lasko 754200, Holmes HCH5250B-TG, DeLonghi DCH1030, Honeywell HZ-0360, and Honeywell HZ-315 all feature adjustable thermostats. They also have high and low settings that draw more or less power, most often 1500 watts and around 900 watts, respectively. The Heat Runner 33551 features three heat settings at 500, 1000, and 1500 watts. The DeLonghi DCH1030 also has an antifreeze function that automatically turns on the unit if the temperature falls below 44 degrees.

Some cheap space heaters, including the Holmes HCH5250B-TG, Lasko 754200, Honeywell HZ-0360, DeLonghi DCH1030, and Heat Runner 33551, have a fan-only setting that makes them useful year-round. This feature lets consumers use the heater as a portable fan during warmer weather or simply circulate the air in a stuffy room.

by Raechel Conover (Google+ Profile)

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