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Seasonal Heating Needs and Options

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An image of a portable electric heater.

Portable Electric Heaters

Timothy Thiele
Question: Seasonal Heating Needs and Options

As we roll into the fall and winter months, heating our home comes to be our #1 concern. Many of you have gone green by adding a wood burning boiler or a geothermal heating system. Then there's the conventional heating methods like gas furnaces or electric heaters. The most common are baseboard and portable heaters. Some are 120-volt models, while baseboard heaters come in both 120- and 240-volt varieties.

About this time of the year I get the same question, "Which is the best option for heating and which is cheaper?" Those are great questions, but as you know, seasonal temperatures, supply and demand, and weather all play their part in the distribution and cost of our gas and electric supplies. But for now, let's consider your seasonal heating needs and options. So what are they?

Answer:

In this article, I address different heating options, how to install and maintain them, and the dangers associated with some of the heating options out there. Remember, proper wire size and proper loading of circuitry is essential to both providing adaquate heating to your home, but also safely distribution the heat from the heaters, in this case electric heaters, mainly portable units.

Gas heating also has its safety concerns. You should always check and replace dirty filters so that the air can flow freely through the ducts, and maintain good air quality throughout the home. Check your exhaust piping for holes and repair if damaged. The fumes can kill you in your sleep, so have it checked! And don't forget the check the gas connections. Use soapy water to check around gas fittings and connection points. If there's a leak, the area will bubble when the soapy water is applied.

Electric heaters are rated for a certain amount of amps, not to be exceeded. The danger lies when people plug too many of these portable electric heaters into one circuit, not necessarily one outlet per say, but a circuit that feeds one room usually. You'll probably know that you did it when the fuse blows or circuit breaker trips. Your first reaction may be to reset the circuit breaker, but beware, it tripped for a reason, an overloaded circuit, and has exceeded its capacity. Therefore, don't do what one family did and reset it not once but nine times, and catch your home on fire! Yes, that's right, they did it and said they reset it because they were cold. Having a house fire sure warmed things up, but not the way we'd like to see.

Before the winter winds start howling and the cold air starts filtering in your home, take time to examine and insulate your home from the cold months ahead. It may be as simple as spraying foam into cracks and crevices or replacing a broken window. Maybe your old furnace just is worn out or is too small to heat your home on a cold, cold day? If so, you probably use a lot of portable electric heaters in your home to keep warm. Be very careful with these and keep everything flammable away from them. Do your part to avoid a fire in your home!

Sealing drafty windows and doors is a great seasonal tip. I know that almost every year I have to check my front door for air leaks. I don't know what it is with the latch, but it always seem to move just enough to allow a little air in on a windy day. I suppose it's the expanding and contracting of the wood frame, but by tightening the door seal connection, the air stays out and the warmth stays in! That saves on energy costs and that makes me happy! Learn more of my heating tips as you read on. Here's to a warm and safe heating season.

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