Dear Burton,
When it gets below freezing, some of the rooms in my home just won’t warm up. We’re freezing over here! How can I safely use a space heater to help my furnace keep these back rooms comfortable? Are space heaters safe to use while the furnace is running?

– Chilly and Chattering

Dear Chilly,

The short answer: Yes, you can use a space heater to supplement your furnace, if you’re careful.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as many as 1,700 home fires are started by space heaters every year. But is it the heater’s fault, or the result of improper usage?

We can’t speak for every case, but overall, space heaters are safe to use when you follow the directions carefully and keep them away from anything flammable. And never leave your space heater unattended, even for just a few minutes! Especially if it didn’t come with an overheat protection or a tip-over switch.

Space heater safety is all about common sense

Read the instructions before you turn the unit on. Place the space heater on a stable, level surface where it’s away from pets or children. Don’t use an extension cord, just plug it right into the wall. And don’t run it all night while you sleep— your sweet dreams will become smoke dreams if the unit lights up your covers!

Like your furnace, many space heaters needs fresh filters

Regularly change your space heater’s filters or clean off the air intake. That will improve the energy efficiency of your space heater, and reduce the likelihood of it overheating or causing a fire.

Check your space heater’s operating manual to see if it has a filter, and how to replace it. If it doesn’t use a filter, you can usually clean the air intake with a damp cloth or a quick vacuum.

While you can use a space heater to support your furnace, should you?

If your furnace is failing to keep your home comfortable during the winter, it may be time for a furnace repair or replacement. You could have a faulty sensor, cracked heat exchanger, leaking or obstructed ductwork, or your furnace may simply be too small for your home. That’s likely the case if your coldest rooms are newer additions.

Cold isn’t your only choice. If your furnace can’t keep up with your family, call Burton for an inspection, tune-up, and cleaning. We’ll even give you a free estimate on a new (highly efficient!) system while we’re out.

To schedule your furnace service or request a quote, call (402) 343-0011.