Contain the Fire: Winter Tips for Space Heater Safety & Efficiency

Come winter, it gets cold here in Northern Virginia. When temperatures fall, it’s understandably tempting to simply plug in, turn on and crank up an electric radiator or space heater to keep toasty warm.

It’s especially tempting to use portable space-heaters in out-of-the-way rooms in your home (nothing worse than stepping into a chilly bathroom!), or on levels of the house that your heating system doesn’t reach very well, or on those long cold Mid-Atlantic winter nights.

Yes, a space heater is a great way to keep a room warm for a while and help your HVAC system out, or to keep toasty warm in your kitchen, home office or nursery,


If you and your family are going use plug-in space heaters in your home – especially while you’re away or asleep, there are some definite must-knows about how to safely and efficiently operate that small-but-mighty, flame-red hotbox of electronic fire that throws off powerful heat from one spot.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 25,000 residential fires annually are associated with faulty or incorrectly operated space heaters, with 6,000 ER-visit injuries and approximately 300 deaths by fire. So please be careful when running space heaters.

A cold winter is upon us. In addition to calling us for regular maintenance and winterizing of your home’s HVAC system and heat pumps, One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Loudoun County VA would like to share these best practices for smart space heater operation:

Top tips for space heater safety:

  • Newer is better (and newest is best). Modern space heaters with the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) insignia should be equipped with safety features like tilt-switch and burn-detection auto-shutoff, so the space heater turns itself off when it is not level or detects excessive heat.
  • Give your space heater space. Place it on a hard, level, stable, non-flammable surface. On the floor, away from foot traffic, is best. Maintain a clear buffer around the space heater with at least a three-foot radius to keep kids and pets from knocking it over. Avoid placing the heater on fluffy carpeting or near loose bedding and textiles.
  • Don’t use an extension cord. Some space heaters draw more power than many power strips and cords can handle, plus it’s one more potential failure point.

Top tips for space heater efficiency:

  • Point the heat where you want it to go. Portable space heaters are meant to warm up a small area, so position the heater to push the heated air toward where it’s needed most. Remember, heat rises, so it makes perfect sense – from the standpoints of safety and of physics – to keep your space heater on the floor.
  • Keep it in a dry place. Obviously, space heaters and water don’t mix, but your space heater works most efficiently when the air and floor aren’t damp. Be cautious when using indoor radiators in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.
  • A space heater is a frying pan, not the fire. The electric portable space heaters manufactured by reputable companies nowadays are great, but the math shows that you don’t want to heat your entire house with them. Fire your space heaters up only when and where they’re most needed, and register with the radiator manufacturer to get any important product recalls.

Used wisely and with care, a space heater can help you conquer NoVA’s winter cold and stay warm and cozy. For more top tips and professional indoor-air services to keep your home or office building toasty warm this winter (with or without space heaters), call your award-winning Ashburn-based HVAC experts for an appointment at 571-421-1888.

This holiday season and into the New Year, One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating wishes our customers and all our friends and neighbors in Loudoun, Fairfax and around Northern Virginia a wonderful wintertime that’s happy, warm and safe.

About Modern Mechanical and One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning: Serving Loudoun, Fairfax, Northern Virginia and the entire Washington, D.C., region with prompt, punctual, friendly, technically superior home services since 2009, including HVAC repair and replacement, diagnoses and parts, and indoor air-quality analysis. Call One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning today at (571) 421-1888 or make an appointment at Please stay connected with One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning on our Facebook page at to keep up with how you can help us continue to help our community and our world.

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