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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Proper Use of Space Heaters Keeps Utility Bills Low

LAS CRUCES -- When used correctly, electric space heaters keep families toasty and utility bills low, said a New Mexico State University energy specialist.

"People should use space heaters to just heat small spaces, never the whole house," said JoAnn Emmel, with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.

For example, if you want to heat a small child's bedroom while keeping the rest of the house cool, space heaters can do the trick. They also work well if you want to keep just one room you are working in warm. "Heating just that space and keeping the rest of the house cooler is going to help you save on your overal heating bill," she said.

When purchasing a space heater, check the wattage, Emmel said. "Whether you buy the $14.99 heater or the $59.99 one, you're going to have the same electric efficiency if the wattage is the same," she explained. Also, make sure the heater comes with a tip-over device that shuts itself off if it tips over to avoid starting something on fire.

Emmel described the different types of electric heaters and their uses as follows:

*Radiant heaters, like heat lamps in bathrooms, heat whatever is located in front of them. As long as you stay near the heater, you'll stay warm. Radiant heaters work well if you're only concerned about heating a person in a room or space.

*Convection heaters have small fans that circulate the warm throughout a room. This heater works well if you want to heat more than one person in a room. Remember, heating a whole room will take longer than just warming up one person.

*Combination heaters serve as both radiant and convection heaters. To safely use an electric space heater, it should be kept away from children, because the coils can get very hot, Emmel said. It should also be placed away from fire hazards like draperies and paper.