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When is using a space heater green?

Space heaters eco-friendlyA lot of times you hear about how using electric space heaters wastes a lot of energy.  But, what about those in-between times of the year where you're not sure you need to heat up your entire house but it's too cold to comfortably sit and read a book in your living room?  What is more energy efficient:  using a space heater to just heat the room you're in for a short period of time, or to turn on the furnace and heat up the whole house?

Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy determined that in many cases, using a space heater in one room is much more efficient that heating an entire home with a gas furnace, particularly with older furnaces. 

Space heaters are a lot safer and more energy efficient than they used to be. 

A few important safety and "green" features to look for when buying a space heater: 

- A thermostat to ensure that you don't overheat your room. 

- A timer so that you don't heat the room longer than necessary.  This is also a good safety feature in case you leave the room.

- One that will automatically shut off if moved.  That way if your dog knocks it over and you're not paying attention, it will shut it off without becoming a fire hazard.

Don't forget to use your space heater safely!  Keep it away from kids, pets, curtains, and blankets.  Never keep it running while you're asleep and shut it off when you leave the room. 

The U.S. Department of Energy site has more info on space heaters.  And don't forget the other tricks to keeping your house warm on a cold day!