Extension and Ag Research News


Study Space Heating Claims Carefully

Check out manufacturers’ claims before buying a space heater.

Anyone planning to buy a space heater should examine the claims manufacturers make about their product, advises Carl Pedersen, North Dakota State University Extension Service energy educator.

For example, ads may claim a product can heat a room “in minutes.”

“That sounds great, but since there are no actual numbers attached, this claim is meaningless,” Pedersen says. “All heaters actually heat a room in minutes.”

Here is his analysis of some other claims about infrared heaters and heating systems:

Claim: Space heaters can lower heating costs 35 percent to 50 percent.

Pedersen: This is possible under certain conditions. The heater being advertised generally is a space heater that is meant to heat one room. If you turn the thermostat in your house down and only use the space heater to heat the room you are in, you can lower your heating costs drastically. By turning the thermostat down by 20 degrees when outside temperatures are above freezing, you can reduce heating costs by up to 50 percent. The problem comes when you move to a different room. You need to bring the space heater with you. You also would need to have all the occupants in the home in the same room. You can lower your costs with any heating system just by closing vents or shutting off heat in rooms that are not used. It is called zone heating.

Claim: Space heaters heat rooms evenly from the floor to ceiling and wall to wall, or the system mixes air at ground level to distribute heat evenly.

Pedersen: Any convective heat source would do this naturally by convention currents or by using a fan. Most space heaters are on the floor, so they heat the molecules closest to the floor first. These molecules rise in the normal convective process because this air now is less dense. It replaces the colder, denser molecules near the ceiling and eventually the room is heated evenly. This is not unique to any particular type of heater.

Claim: Space heaters do not increase humidity levels.

Pedersen: That is true. But what also is true is that no electric or sealed combustion-heating system removes humidity from the air. Oxygen levels also are not affected by any electric or vented combustion heating source.

Claim: Space heaters do not emit “poisonous carbon monoxide or harmful radiation.”

Pedersen: Electric space heaters of any type do not emit carbon monoxide or other pollutants into the house. Unvented combustion space heaters do emit numerous dangerous pollutants and should not be used in confined spaces.

“Make sure you research any purchase you make,” he says. “While the claims made in these advertisements about these heating systems are true, they make the system seem like a revolutionary advancement in home heating. You can get similar benefits from a good-quality space heater from most hardware stores for considerably less than $300 to $400.”

He adds that one way to do that research is through the Internet. A number of Web sites are available to check on the opinions of consumers who have purchased space heaters.

For more information on this or any other energy-related topic, contact Pedersen at (701) 231-5833 or carl.pedersen@ndsu.edu.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Carl Pedersen, (701) 231-5833, carl.pedersen@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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