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Space Heater Safety: How to Stay Warm Without Compromising Your Health

Space heaters are definitely handy. These units can effectively heat up small areas within just minutes. However, their effectiveness isn’t matched by their safety or their efficiency. Even with ample caution, space heaters can still result in painful skin burns, damaged property, astronomical electric bills, and dangerous electrical fires. If you’re currently using a space heater in your Canton, Massachusetts home, read on to find out how to do so without compromising the health of everyone who lives with you.

Never Use More Than One Space Heater at Once

Space heaters are not meant to be fixed, permanent heating solutions. They aren’t capable of providing whole-house comfort, and they aren’t meant for everyday use. These units are simply too inefficient to serve as a reliable source of warmth throughout the cold season. Using space heaters to heat your whole home will:

  • Pose the risk of electrical short circuits and fires
  • Increase the likelihood of damaged property
  • Create indoor humidity concerns

If alternative sources of heat aren’t available, space heaters can also leave residents at risk of developing various health issues when the outside temperatures plummet. Problems like frostbite, hypothermia, and frost nip can easily occur indoors when there isn’t an adequate heating system in place.

Unlike central HVAC systems and other options in modern, whole-house heating equipment, space heaters don’t offer the benefits of air purification or indoor humidity control. Instead, these units often introduce dirt, dust, and other airborne particulates even as they remove essential moisture from the air. Just as having too much moisture in your home can cause indoor air quality issues and health concerns, having too little moisture is problematic as well. Running a single space heater all of the time or attempting to run two or more of these units at once can leave people with dry skin, eyes, and lips. It can also cause nosebleeds, sore throats, and other problems associated with excessively arid living conditions.

More importantly, having two or more space heaters at once diminishes your ability to keep a watchful eye on these units. Although many modern space heaters have emergency shut-off features that will kick into action the minute they get tipped over, these features aren’t guaranteed to work all of the time. All it takes is a single rambunctious pet or child to upset an active heating unit and you could be dealing with burnt flooring and countless other issues.

Give Your Space Heater Its Own Dedicated Outlet

Correctly setting your space heater up is essential. Although you want to make sure that this unit is on a stable, secure surface, you may have thick carpeting or other floor coverings that require it to be elevated. Choose an out-of-the way space that’s easy to monitor and put your space heater on a table, shelf, or other surface that’s unlikely to be bumped or jostled.

You should also make sure that your unit has its own dedicated outlet. Space heaters should never be plugged into extension cords or power strips. They shouldn’t share outlets with lamps, electronic devices, or any other electrically powered items.

Don’t Leave Your Space Heater Unattended

Despite having one or more built-in safety features, space heaters should never be ignored. Even if you have to make a short trip to the bathroom, you should turn your heater off and unplug it. This is especially important in busy, bustling households with lots of active pets and people.

Space Heaters Should Never Be Used Overnight

Building interiors are often coldest during the nighttime hours and in the early mornings. Unfortunately, these are also the worst times to use space heaters. It is never a good idea to fall asleep with a space heater on. If this unit malfunctions or tips over, you’ll want to catch and correct the problem right away. Make sure that your unit is both off and unplugged before you make your way to bed.

Consider Repairing, Replacing, or Upgrading Your Fixed Heating Solution

Every Massachusetts home needs a fixed, whole-house heating system. Many people turn to space heaters, heating blankets, and other short-term heating solutions when the furnaces, boilers, or heat pumps have stopped doing their jobs. It may be time to schedule professional heater maintenance, have important heater repairs performed, or pay for a system replacement. On average, boilers, furnaces, and heat pumps last about 15 to 20 years. If your heater is nearing the end of its lifespan and is no longer able to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures during the winter, it’s time to replace it.

It may be that you’ve been relying on an oil-fired heater and you’re having a hard time staying on top of heating oil deliveries. If the rising costs of home heating oil are making it difficult to keep your household warm, you can speak with an HVAC company about having a high-efficiency electric furnace or electric boiler put in.

Find the Right Heating Strategy for Remote Areas

Some people turn to space heaters because they have remote, under-serviced, or unserviced areas in their homes. This may be the case if you’ve recently turned a basement or attic into a bedroom or den, or if you’ve recently completed a new building addition. Even in these areas, space heaters are only intended for short-term use. Having a ductless mini-split heat pump installed should be sufficient for keeping remote areas like these warm on moderately cold days in Canton. When you work with a licensed HVAC company, you can learn more about the best options for meeting your efficiency goals, saving money, and ensuring resident safety.

Retire Your Old Space Heater

One of the major dangers in using space heaters is the potential for having them malfunction. The latest and most innovative models account for many of the hazards that these short-term heating solutions present. They’ve got protective casings for preventing direct contact burns, designs that mitigate the risks of tipping, and features that turn them off in case they’re accidentally forgotten and left running indefinitely. Although even these unit upgrades don’t make it safe to use a space heater overnight, when no one is in the room, or for an extended period of time, they do limit the likelihood of disaster.

On the other hand, older space heaters do not limit the likelihood of disaster. Many of these units grow incredibly hot to the touch at their exterior. Some will continue running even after they’ve fallen face-down into carpeting. Older space heaters often have frayed cords and dust-covered electrical components. Many issue a distinctive burnt smell during operation, and they may not have controls for limiting their heat output or their energy use.

If you have a space heater that you’ve been storing in your attic for years or one that you picked up at a garage sale or thrift store, get rid of it. At the very least, this unit will drive your energy bill sky high. At the worst, it could cause devastating injuries and lasting property damage. It’s far safer to simply take care of existing problems with your current, whole-house heating equipment.

Since 2008, Green Energy Mechanical has been proudly serving residents of Canton, Massachusetts and the surrounding areas. We offer heating, cooling, and plumbing services. We also provide heat pumps, advanced indoor air quality services, and Aeroseal duct sealing. Don’t use a space heater as a long-term heating solution in your home. To find a safer, greener, cleaner, and all-around better-performing alternative, give us a call today.

To learn more about the Heating Company in Canton, MA, call Green Energy Mechanical Inc today at 781-236-3421 or email at

Author Bio:

Jonathan Neves

Worked in the HVAC industry since he was 17. He started as an HVAC service technician for commercial buildings and eventually came into the residential market because of his love of working with people. He believes that what really sets Green Energy Mechanical apart is how long they stand behind their work and how compassionate his employees are for their clients.


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I could not be more pleased with the service provided. We have upgraded our water heater to a tank less. We are also getting our heat and ac installed by them. They care for your home like you would
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