It’s starting to get colder, and sometimes putting on an extra layer of clothing just doesn’t do the trick. If your house never seems to get warm enough — or if there’s just one stubborn room that’s always a little cold — it might be time to get a space heater.
Space heaters are small, compact units that tend to run on electricity. They’re useful for when you want to keep one contained area of your home warm, as opposed to footing the bill to heat up the entire house. They are very useful if, say, one person in your household is always chilly while everyone else complains when the thermostat gets cranked too high. They can also come in handy if your central heating system isn’t getting the job done efficiently, but spending money on repairs just isn’t in your budget at the moment.
But, as is often the case, setting yourself up for the best results is not as simple as buying a product and flipping on the switch. Natalie Barrett, a service quality supervisor for the home and cleaning resource Nifty, she says that before you buy a space heater, it’s important to take steps to ensure your home is insulated and not drafty.
“Neither the cheap nor the expensive space heaters will deliver optimal results if the home is not properly draft proofed,” she says. “This is especially true with ceramic heaters. But if you have done all the caulking and insulation, there are some good choices.”
In an effort to make sure you don’t burn your house down, here’s some advice to keep in mind before using a space heater, from The Washington Post. (Yes, it’s all very common-sense stuff, but it never hurts to remind people of this sort of thing.)
- Don’t leave your heater on unattended.
- Don’t let your heater run while you are asleep.
- Make sure it is not set-up in a cluttered area, and give it plenty of space.
- Make sure your pets or kids don’t knock it over. Close the door if you need to.
Best Space Heaters for the Money
Many space heaters are built with ceramic-based materials. What sets the Dr Infrared apart “is this system uses infrared beams. Like the sun, infrared heaters directly warm up the surfaces touched by the rays,” Barrett says. “This means that walls and furniture start to warm up the room rather than the hot air from ceramic heaters that quickly finds a way out of the premise.”
Barrett adds that “the only disadvantage was the higher initial cost linked to such heaters, however in recent years they became more and more affordable and Dr Infrared is not only slightly less expensive than ceramic alternatives, but more stylish and safe as well.”
Michael Dean, the cofounder of Pool Research, as well as an Asheville-based real estate agent and landlord, often does house showings, and says, “I often use space heaters to make sure a home is warm and cozy for prospective buyers.” He believes the GiveBest Portable Heater is a great overall value. “At 750-1500W, it’s powerful enough to heat up a 200-250 square foot room in a few minutes. When left running, it can sufficiently warm rooms up to 350-400-square-foot in area. It’s safe thanks to fire-retardant materials (ceramics) and tip-over protection, and incredibly affordable.” No one will complain that it’s too loud either: “The part I like best is that it’s quiet, which is important in house showings.”
If you need to heat a large room fast, you might want to consider an oil-based unit like the PELONIS. “I’m a big fan of this oil radiator. It heats up quickly, a common problem with this device type, it can heat up large rooms (600-700 square feet), and it’s 100% fire safe,” says Dean. “It makes no noise and comes with an incredibly convenient LED display and remote control combo. With the PELONIS oil radiator, you can control the temperature of the room from your couch, your bed, your kitchen — anywhere with a clear line of sight to the unit.”
“We use this to heat up bathrooms before house showings. It’s cheap, it works well, and it’s sturdy to boot,” says Dean. “What I like about this unit is that it heats up quickly, which is often a problem for small heaters. Take the price, the excellent heating functionality and tip-over protection, and this may be the best value-for-money item.”
The Lasko tower heater is very handy if you are looking to warm up a small space, says Rex Freiberger, the Los Angeles-based CEO of the home resource Gadget Review.
“It’s small and compact, so it’s easy to place where you need it. It’s fairly powerful for such a small machine. It also has protection from overheating and a decent thermostat to control the temperature,” he says. “The downside is it’s not the most powerful unit, obviously. At 1500 watts it does a good job of heating a small space like an office or bedroom. If you’re looking to heat an open area like a living room, you may need something stronger.”
If you need to get warm on the cheap, Barrett has a suggestion. “I highly recommend Vornado VH200. This ceramic heater is one of the cheapest on the market and for its small 8-inch size offers many little perks that other products from its class fail to provide,” she says. “It has tip-over protection and the case stays cool to the touch. With its five years of warranty, it is no wonder why we see it more and more in homeowners choosing it. While our technicians performed their services, they have also reported that Vornado VH200 works so quietly but still manages to heat up a small premise.”
TaoTronics Space Heater: $64.99
The selling point of the TaoTronics Space Heater is that it works fast, according to Jennifer Willy, the Vancouver-based Editor of the travel resource Eita. “TaoTronics Space Heater is equipped with ceramic heating elements and rated power up to 1500 watts, their PTC space heater heats up to 70°F in three seconds to quickly provide warmth for relatively small spaces.”