Many people don’t realize that portable heaters use up to 40% more energy than central heating units. However, if you’re faced with an unexpected power outage, they can be a lifesaver.
Here are some top tips to keep your house warm and safe during a power outage with space heaters:
- First of all, make sure you have enough fuel for your generator or another source of power.
- Keep safety in mind when refueling generators – do not attempt to fill the tank indoors as there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure you have working smoke detectors on each level of your home and test them regularly.
- Ensure the batteries are replaced at least twice per year. If using flammable liquids to start your generator, make sure to keep them in a safe container.
- Keep at least 1/3 of the tank full during periods of non-use. This will help prevent corrosion around the generator’s fuel system.
- Always turn off generators after use and let them cool for several minutes before refueling. This prevents accidental fires or injuries while hot oil may drip from the unit.
- Never put a generator in an enclosed area such as a garage, basement, crawl space or shed – exhaust fumes cannot dissipate properly indoors.
- Portable heaters come with safety warnings so be sure to read all instructions carefully before making your choice of heater for use during your power outage.
- Have your portable heater serviced regularly according to manufacturers’ instructions. Keep in mind that running a generator for too long at one time can be harmful and reduce its lifespan, so if possible turn it off during the day when you will be home to monitor its use.
- As most portable heaters are not designed with safety in mind, avoid using them in or near flammable objects such as curtains or furniture – this also includes running them on combustible surfaces such as wooden floors.
- Be extremely careful with heaters that have exposed heating wires, hot metal grills or open elements – these pose serious fire hazards.
- Keep children away from operating heaters at all times. According to statistics compiled by Electric Safe, around 300 people die in portable heater fires annually.
- If you do use a ceramic heater, be sure that it is placed at least 3 feet away from objects and furniture – this will allow for heat dissipation. Do not let pets or children come into contact with the heater while it is in operation.
- Keep vents clean to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. Carbon Monoxide can kill quickly without warning so make sure your CO detectors are operational at all times.
- Never place your portable heater on top of tables, chairs or other unstable surfaces as they may tip over during use and cause injury. Always turn off heaters before leaving rooms – do not leave them running when you go to bed or out for the day!
- Ideally, you should only use your portable heater as a temporary solution to power outages – they are not designed for long-term or consistent use.
What kind of electricity will my generator produce?
Electric generators produce AC power. This means that any appliances that require DC current cannot be power unless you purchase a converter. In most cases, converting from AC to DC requires more energy than is being generated so it may not be worth your time and money in the long run. If you want to power certain devices such as computers or stereos, look into purchasing a Genset and living in a digital world. Alternatively, use solar panel chargers for items such as cell phones and MP3 players.
How can I replace regular household appliances such as a stove or refrigerator during a power outage?
Even if you own a standby generator, it is best to purchase items that will require minimal energy to operate. Look for products with the ENERGY STAR label. These use 50% less energy than traditional appliances and will save you money on your electric bill and generator’s upkeep. Use multi-functional kitchen appliances such as coffee makers and microwaves whenever possible. They only require one heating element instead of separate burners and ovens. For refrigeration needs, purchase a dorm-size refrigerator where available; alternatively, fill your freezer with ice cubes every twelve hours or so.
How do I determine how much wattage my appliances need?
To find out how much wattage your appliances require. Look at the back of the machine or appliance and check the power requirements. They should be listed in either watt (W) or amps (A). An amp is equivalent to 1/1000th of an ohm which measures electrical resistance in the circuit. To convert amps to volts. Multiply by 12 – so if you see that an appliance requires 10 a, it means 120 VAC.
A generator is certainly not the best option for powering your entire house. If you are prepared to live in a digital world or create more “camping-type” amenities, invest in renewable energy sources. Such as solar panels could be well worth it. Solar power is less expensive than ever before and does not require large amounts of physical labor to build – instead. It only requires an investment on behalf of the consumer.