Focus on Home Safety: Portable Space Heaters
Women in home holding baby

Fall sweater weather is here and winter not far behind. Your seasonal focus will naturally change from staying cool to keeping warm and cozy at home. Not only are sweaters coming out to keep folks warm but so are portable space heaters. That brings safety concerns, including the risk of starting a home fire. On top of that, using a portable electric space heater can be one of the most expensive ways to heat your home with electric heat costing about five times as much as natural gas.

Air sealing is the most efficient way to keep your home warm during the cold months. If your home is properly air sealed, you should not need to use space heaters. Focus on Energy provides rebates for air sealing and insulation work, and you can hire a Focus on Energy Trade Ally to make the project easier. However, if you still plan to use a portable space heater, stay safe with this easy-to-follow checklist.


  1. Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
  2. Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection.
  3. Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
  4. Place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
  5. Keep the heater at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
  6. Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off that turns the heater off, if it tips over.
  7. Keep heaters out of the way of foot traffic. Never block an exit.
  8. Keep children and pets away from the heater.
  9. Heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.

Keeping your home warm is important but keeping it safe is paramount. To learn about other ways to keep your home warm, how to lower your energy costs, and how you can live more efficiently, visit

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