While our latest tests found that the latest electric space heaters are safer than models we’ve tested in the past, these appliances still pose significant risks from fire and electrical shocks if you don’t use them safely. Fuel-fired models carry their own risks.
If you're in the market for a new electric space heater, buy a model listed by Underwriters Laboratories, whose mark indicates it meets UL's voluntary safety standards. And consider a heater equipped with a tip-over switch and an automatic shutoff for overheat protection. If you need to use an extension cord, get a 12- or 14-gauge model.
• Before you use your new heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels.
• Place the heater on a level, flat surface. Use a heater on a tabletop only when specified by the manufacturer. Never place your heater on furniture. It could fall and get damaged.
• Never use a heater in a damp or wet area unless it is designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms, Moisture could damage the heater.
• Keep combustible materials—furniture, bedding, curtains—at least 3 feet from the front of the heater and away from its sides and rear. Also, never block the air intake or outlet on a heater.
• Don’t use a heater near flammable materials, like paint, gas cans and matches.
• Be sure the heater is out of the reach of children and pets, and don’t place one in a kid’s room.
• Run the heater’s electric cord on top of area rugs or carpeting so you don’t damage it.
• Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug does not fit snugly into the outlet or if the plug becomes very hot, you might need to hire a qualified electrician to replace the outlet.
• Never plug another electrical device into the same outlet or extension cord as your heater. This could result in overheating. Also inspect the electric cord periodically. A damaged cord is a safety risk.
• Never leave an operating heater unattended. Always unplug the heater when it’s not in use; gently pull the plug straight out from the outlet—don’t yank it out.
Essential information: Read our expert advice for 10 easy ways to save hundreds of dollars on energy costs at your house. Also check out our latest reports on windows and thermostats, two home products that can help you lower your utility bills.
AHAM has set up a web site to offer tips in english and spanish for safely using a portable electric heater. Please see http://www.heatersafety.org
I am extremely frustrated with your website. I have been looking all morning for information on heat pumps, heating systems, electric blankets. I can't find any information except don't use them (health section) because they'll suck the moisture from your skin. I thought this website was supposed to be like the magazine where you could see ratings. I originally purchased a subscription because I wanted to buy appliances but the only ones rated were the expensive models. I want my money back. This website is useless