Cold toes and an equally chilly nose don’t make for fun Facebook time. So, after you unwrapped that new laptop from Santa and parked yourself in your favorite spot for a little surf and search and social networking, you decided one more electronic device was in order this winter — a space heater.
Off to the post-Christmas sales you go where you score a great deal on nifty new nose warmer. You get it home, pull it out of the box, and plug it into the power strip behind your favorite chair where your laptop and iPhone are charging. You crank it up, and in minutes, you’re in business. What’s wrong with this picture? Practically everything.
Space heater safety is serious. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, causing more than 300 deaths. An estimated 6,000 persons receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.
If you are going to use a space heater, you MUST follow safety instructions, which include:
- Choosing newer models that are Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) listed
- Buying a heater that’s the right size for the room. Purchasing an oversized heater will waste energy
- Placing the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic, children, and pets
- Keeping all space heaters at least three feet away from anything that is combustible
- NOT using extension cords or power strips with space heaters
- Inspecting the heater’s cord periodically to look for frayed wire or damaged insulation
- Checking for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced, and this may signal a potential home wiring problem.
But while safety is the number one concern, it isn’t the only worry when it comes to space heaters and homes for sale. The presence of a space heater in your home may cause potential buyers to back off. Portable heaters highlight exactly what you’re trying to minimize — those little flaws that every home has.
Maybe the best solution while your home is on the market, is to relocate from that drafty spot to somewhere warmer. The last thing you want to do is raise concerns about the condition and performance of your heating system by plopping a space heater in the middle of that lovely sunny room full of windows. Chances are buyers won’t notice the slight temperature difference anyway, especially since they’ll probably keep their coats on.
Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker
Twitter – @AskForLara