Forget space heaters and get to the heart of your heat problem

Using a space heater to solve your cold room problem is a little like serving soup with a slotted spoon. You get a little of what you want, but most of it slips right through.

Sitting in front of a space heater provides immediate relief, true. That heat washes over you like a tiny, electric-powered sun. Although it may warm you, it’s not doing much to warm the room (meaning you need to stay where it is to benefit), and you’re pulling a lot of electricity to run it. A small space heater can eat up as much electricity as 20 standard 75-watt bulbs. Your whole-house system is much more efficient.

A space heater, which works a lot like a toaster oven by using resistance wire to generate heat, is not a solution to a cold room. It’ll do in a pinch, but the real answer is to seal your room. Most often, a room that’s cooler than the rest of the house is one that lets the warm air your furnace creates slip right out of gaps around doors and windows or into the attic.

Before you plug in a space heater this year, see what you can do about finding and fixing the culprit behind your cold room. Add weather stripping to doors. Caulk around the foundation of your home, in the attic, and around windows. Use thermal curtains. An energy audit can help you identify the trouble spots in your house, and your Energy Advisor can guide you toward the steps you need to take to address the results of your energy audit. And, hey—you might even get some rebate money to make those changes.