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Cooperative Research Network urges prudent space heater use

by Derrill Holly
Electric Co-op Today

With winter temperatures creeping across much of the country, electric cooperative consumer-members should turn to efficiency to save dollars and stay warm.

“It is much more efficient to invest in weather stripping and insulation than it is to add electric resistance space heaters,” said Brian Sloboda, senior program manager for NRECA’s

“Caulking and plastic sheeting around windows will create more comfort in the home, and that’s a project most people can complete for $50 to $100.”

That compares with as much as several hundred dollars for space heaters that typically rely on radiant or convection heat sources, or a combination of the two, providing heat to a relatively small areas.

“All electric resistance space heaters essentially take one unit of electricity and make one unit of heat,” Sloboda said. “A heat pump can take one unit of electricity and sometimes create as much as three units of heat.”

Models promoted for energy efficiency come with recommendations that users set their heating system’s thermostat at 50 degrees. “They urge people to move the space heater from room to room, based upon the family’s schedule, but most people don’t live like that,” said Sloboda.

CRN suggests that space heaters be used sparingly, as supplemental heating at bath time for added comfort or when someone is active in an unheated workshop, and turned off when those areas are not in use.

Space heaters are meant for temporary use, not for long periods of time, Sloboda said. “Many models use between 600 and 1,500 watts of electricity, so using just one for eight hours a day, five days a week, you will see the impact on your monthly electric bill.”