Staying safe with a space heater—the temporary solution for low, low temps and high propane costs

Good gravy, this cold! It means talk of weather is inescapable, but that’s the least of it. If you’re using propane to heat your house, you’re feeling more financially irritating results of the unusually low temperatures: Propane prices are shooting upward, and supplies are dwindling. A late, wet corn harvest shares the blame with extreme temperatures, but the why is less important to most people than the how, as in “How do we cope with this?”

In the long-term, you might want to consider switching from propane to a geothermal heating and cooling system, which comes with a nice rebate from POWER MOVES and a hefty increase in efficiency. But for now, we know a lot of our members are resorting to space heaters. They’re not ideal for keeping warm (something we’ve talked about in a previous post), but they certainly do make a viable option during an unusual situation like this one.

Stay warm, but keep in mind the following points about space heaters:

  • They’re small, but they can run up big bills. One 1500-watt space heater operating on its high setting 24 hours a day for a month can add about $110 to your electric bill. Use space heaters sparingly and on the lowest setting that you can tolerate.
  • Where there’s heat, there may be fire. Huddle up under a blanket, sure, but keep your space heater three feet from the fabric. Make sure anything combustible is safely out of range—like your curtains, or the stuffed animal your kid left on the floor.
  • An upright space heater is the safest space heater. Keep your heater on a flat, level surface so that there’s less likelihood of them falling over (and the heating element reaching something combustible). You should also turn them off at night so that roaming humans or pets don’t knock them over.
  • Manage your fuel carefully. If you’re using a liquid-fuel space heater, make sure you stick to the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Deviating is downright dangerous. The wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment was designed for and cause a serious fire.

With the dire temperatures and a propane shortage, we understand that space heaters might be the best way to keep your teeth from chattering over the next couple of months. So please stay safe (and warm) while winter wanes. We’re pretty sure it won’t last forever.

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