With chillier weather now arriving in the Cincinnati area, this is the time of year when sales of space heaters really take off.
But do you need a space heater? Will it lower your heating bills?
And if you do, do you have to spend a lot of money?
Heaters Put to the Test
When it comes to space heaters, there are lots of choices in stores. And then there's the so called "Amish Fireplace" from Heat Surge that is advertised everywhere.
Our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine tested 13 space heaters ranging in price from about $30 to more than $500.
Despite what the ads claim, the magazine says most give off identical amounts of heat since most are 1500 watts.
Jim Nanni of Consumer Reports said "heaters that use the same amount of watts produce the same amount of heat. But they differ on how well they can maintain a set temperature and what features they offer."
Ironically, one of the most expensive models, the $550 Heat Surge Amish fireplace wound up near the bottom of Consumer Reports' ratings.
Nanni said "the Heat Surge lacks a thermostat. That's what helped the best heaters we tested stay within three degrees of the set temperature."
By the way, it is made in China. Only the wood mantle is made by the Amish, in case you were wondering.
Is Infrafred Better Heat?
Consumer Reports also says that heavily advertised infrared space heaters, such as the $300 Edenpure, work well, but are not significantly better than cheaper models.
And it says the new Dyson Hot, from the makers of the famous vacuum cleaner, is excellent at heating, but has one of the noisiest fans. At $400, it is also one of the most expensive they have ever tested.
In the end, Consumer Reports gave its top ratings to a $120 Vornado and a $95 heater from Honeywell.
And the Winner is....
Consumer Reports top ratings go to the:
The Vornado Heat Touch Stone 500, at $130, their Best Buy for 2012.
Also highly rated: Honeywell model HZ-817, available online and at many home improvement stores for around $95. CLICK HERE for more info.
A simpler model, the Honeywell HZ-519, is another Consumer Reports Best Buy at around $60.
Also good: the Kenwood Mica Panel, $80 .
The DeLonghi Safe Heat, $80
But a Caution....
But Consumer Reports says don't count any space heater to slash your heating bills.
Nanni said "unless you turn the heat down in the whole house and just use a space heater in one or two rooms, you won't see much of a savings."
Consumer Reports says electricity costs almost twice as much to heat the same space as natural gas these days, due to lower gas prices and higher electric rates.