As the cold weather moves into our area of the world, many folks begin considering how they will keep warm this winter. While an efficient and modern furnace should do the trick when it comes to keeping your home comfortable, many people have older homes with units that can no longer keep up with the demand. Though it’s always preferable to upgrade your furnace, space heaters can be a good option to deal with especially cold areas of the home or to help you stay warm until you can afford an HVAC upgrade. A space heater can pose many risks, though, so keep these five safety tips in mind if you plan to use them.

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Have the Right Expectations

Don’t think you can get away with buying a $50 space heater and heating your entire first floor. Space heaters are specifically made to heat small areas, such as a bathroom or the area around a desk. You should not expect them to replace your furnace. Trying to use a space heater for more than it’s made for can lead to even higher electricity bills and disappointment.

Pick the Right Place to Use Them

Most space heaters need to be kept at least three feet away from clothing, rugs, furniture, bedding, or other areas that can ignite. Some models can be hung directly on your walls, but most will need to sit on the floor. It’s also important to never hang or drape anything on your space heater and ensure it’s placed on a hard, level surface to prevent tipping.

Plug Directly into an Outlet

It might be tempting to plug your space heater into an extension cord, especially if you need it in an out-of-the-way area. However, using an extension cord increases the chances of fire, overheating, and electrical shock. Always try to plug your space heater directly into a wall outlet. If you must use an extension cord, make sure you use one specifically made for portable heaters.

Always Shut Off and Unplug When Not in Use

Leaving a heater on all day when you’re not using it is dangerous and will cause a hike in your energy bills. Even those heaters that have safety measures built in should be shut off whenever you leave the room—even if it’s only briefly. If you plan to use a space heater while you sleep, you should buy one with a programmable shutoff timer.

Keep Them Away From Water

A humid basement or damp bathroom are not the places for a space heater. They should always be kept away from moisture and you should never touch a space heater if you have wet hands as this can cause electrical shock.


If you plan to use space heaters to stay warm this winter, keep the above five safety tips in mind. If you’re ready to upgrade your HVAC system to ensure a comfortable season, please reach out. We’d love to help.