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Purchase your electric heater wisely.

The heat feels so good, the glowing radiation as you exit the shower. Your electric heater supplements your home heating system nicely. Radiant heat feels more pleasant than blown warm air (convection heat). That's why woodstoves feel so comfortable and just like the sun, especially on a cool day. Their heat radiates toward us.

So as winter approaches, you plan to buy a better electric heater. Is more expensive really better? Do you get more heat?

By basic laws of physics, all electric heaters are 100 percent efficient. All the electricity comes out as heat.

Why should we know this? Because uninformed sales clerks often state that one heater (usually the more expensive) is more efficient than another. To repeat for emphasis, all electric heaters are 100 percent efficient.


Check nameplates for ratings. A 1,500 watt heater produces 50 percent more heat than a 1,000 watt heater. But all 1,500 watt heaters produce the same amount of heat regardless of price. The more expensive heater may appear aesthetically nicer, and offer multiple heat settings and blower speeds, but the maximum amount of heat is the same.

Some electric heaters, filled with water or oil, resemble old-fashioned cast iron radiators. Electricity warms the water, which then radiates heat. "It keeps putting out heat even after you turn it off," extols the salesperson. Which is true. The water stored the heat and it cools gradually. But it also takes longer to heat up. You can't get something for nothing. It's called conservation of energy. If you took physics or chemistry in school, remember the first law of thermodynamics.

Some electric heaters include circulation fans, which take a small amount of the electricity. But that, too, eventually converts to heat.

Buy the model which appeals to you, but remember that you are paying for heat, not gadgets. The most expensive model is no more efficient than the cheapest of the same electrical rating. Be sure it's safe. Automatic shutoff if the heater is knocked over is a good idea, just don't be fooled by fashion.

Don't try to heat your whole house with them. Despite mushrooming fuel costs, it's still usually cheaper to heat with oil or gas than electricity.

Electric heaters are usually rated at 1,500 watts maximum (12.5 amps at 120 volts). This produces 5,118 BTUs per hour of heat. By comparison, a portable kerosene utility heater is typically rated at 23,000 BTUs per hour--almost 4-1/2 times the heat, which is probably a better bet for your garage or small barn. Yes, electricity is pollution free, but only because the fuel-to-electricity conversion takes place at the power plant rather than in your bathroom.

Best bet, bundle up. Our ancestors did, and somehow survived, otherwise we wouldn't be here.
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Author:Pesha, Ronald
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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