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Can a space heater lower heating bills?

Don't Waste Your Money

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Space heaters advertise lots of warmth, And lots of savings. You may have seen full page ads in the newspaper for "miracle" heaters that claim they can "slash your heating bills."

But can they really do that? Our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine say in most cases, no.

Why Many People Don't See Savings

Jim Nanni of Consumer Reports says what the ads don't tell you is that you will have to keep most of your home cold to lower your bills with a space heater.

"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," Nanni said.

Consumer Reports says despite what the ads claim, most space heaters give off identical amounts of heat since they are all rated at 1500 watts (the maximum allowable with home wiring).   

But Consumer Reports says don't count  any space heater to slash your heating bills. That's because electricity is more expensive than gas. Natural gas costs have fallen in recent years, while electric rates have risen.

Electricity typically costs 20 percent more than gas to heat the same 1,000 square foot space.  

If your furnace burns heating oil, however, the costs are more comparable.

How it Can Save Some Money

Consumer Reports for a space heater save you money, you need to keep the main thermostat for your house at 60 degrees or below (which is chilly for most people).

Then move the space heater from room to room with you, from the kitchen, to the living room, etc.  Then you will lower your heating bills, as you are heating only 200 square feet at once.

That's a lot of effort, though, and it could be unsafe.

Top Rated Model

Many $300 heaters claim to be best, using terms like "infrared," "convection," or even, yes, "miracle."

But Consumer Reports gives its top rating to an inexpensive baseboard electric heater, a $75 model from Honeywell, sold at Lowes and Home Depot.  

Honeywell makes several different versions of it, depending on the type of thermostat you want.  The Honeywell HZ-817 is the specific model they tested, but there are several other versions.

As always, don't waste your money.

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