Space heaters pose safety concerns, may cause high electric bills

ST. MARYS – Freezing temperatures may have you reaching for your space heater, but Midwest Electric asks you to think twice.

Electric space heaters are convenient, but don’t forget about their high cost and the safety precautions that may get overlooked.

During this frigid week of single digit temperatures, Midwest Electric wants to help its members avoid unexpected high winter electric bills, and fire and electric shock hazards from space heaters.

“Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States,” Midwest Electric CEO Matt Berry said. “We want to remind the public that safety should always be a top consideration when using electric space heaters.”

Always inspect the heater for cracked or broken plugs before each use. To avoid overheating an outlet, which could result in a fire, plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet, and never use an extension cord or plug any other devices into the same outlet.

Following these precautions will help those in your home avoid unwanted injuries and prevent damage to the electric space heater:

1. Never place flammable objects such as curtains, bedspreads, table clothes or cleaning supplies closer than 3 feet.

2. Never use near wet areas such as kitchen sinks, baths, showers, etc.

3. Be careful to place on a stable flat surface to avoid tipping over.

4. Keep away from children and pets. Even a brief touch can cause severe burns.

5. Be sure to check for frayed insulation on cords and never use with an extension cord.

6. Turn off space heaters when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep.

Cost is another factor to consider when using space heaters. For example, using two space heaters for just two hours a day could add nearly $20 to your monthly electric bill.

To see how much a space heater costs to operate, visit and click the blue “Energy Calculators” button at the top of the page. Then click the space heater calculator.

“Space heaters warm people, not rooms,” Berry said. “Don’t try to heat your entire home with them.”

To stay warm without turning up the heat, try these tips:

1. Dress in layers.

2. Use blankets.

3. Try microwavable heating pads.

4. Leave your oven open after baking to release the heat (but do not attempt to heat a room by keeping an oven open while it is running).

5. Keep your feet warm with thick socks or slippers.

6. Drink warm beverages (warms you from the inside out and keeps hands warm)

7. Reverse your ceiling fan so it spins clockwise to push warm air down.

8. Try a humidifier (humid air feels warmer than dry air).

9. Clear your heat vents, registers and radiators so heat can circulate.

10. Do something active, like cleaning or getting up to move periodically so your body doesn’t get stiff and cold.

Remember that the colder it is outside, the harder your heating system has to work to keep your home warm – which is why electric bills are typically higher in the winter.

For energy efficiency advice, call Midwest Electric at 800-962-3830.

Based in St. Marys, Midwest Electric is the not-for-profit, customer-owned electric cooperative serving 11,000 homes, farms and businesses in Allen, Auglaize, Mercer, Van Wert, Shelby, Putnam and Darke counties. To learn more, visit