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Fools and Their Money - Expensive Space Heaters

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Don't pay a premium for silly electric room heater concepts, especially if they claim to use "less" electricity. For a given amount of heat that is scientifically impossible.

Every year as winter rolls around I look for TV and magazine ads for some fantastic new kind of electric space heater. Each year it is something slightly different.

One year they are oil filled.

Another year they are "radiant" heat.

Another year they look like old fashioned steam radiators.

But everyone is sold on the same false premise - that paying $100, $200, or, believe it or not, up to $400 for the very latest kind of portable electric heater will keep your room warmer and use less electricity.

Unfortunately, as anyone who completed a decent basic science class in high school can tell you, any heater expensive enough to be safe, or a set of light bulbs, or a large TV and stereo, will all generate exactly the same amount of heat for a given wattage.

A watt measures energy consumption (and what you pay for electricity) a safe $30 electric heater using 1000 watts produces exactly the same amount of room heat as a $450 1000 watt "radiant-oil" heater.

A 200 watt TV, 200 watt computer, 200 watt monitor, and four 100 watt light bulbs will also produce exactly the same amount of heat in the same room and use exactly the same amount of energy.

A side issue is the question of CFL (compact florescent lights) which give lots of light but use little power - they also give little heat. That's great in warm weather or outside but inside you might want to swap them out in winter, you'll get additional heat in a room without buying anything new (if you kept your old bulbs the CFLs replaced.)

There really are differences between various space heaters. But those have nothing to do with the cost of operating the heater or their efficiency. If a more expensive heater actually uses less electricity then it also produces less heat, unless you know Harry Potter personally.

The differences which are important are all related to safety - a switch to shut the heater off if it is tipped over, a fan and grill or other feature which keeps the surface cool enough to touch, radiant heat which warms distant people or objects before their surface warmth heats the air, and so on.

The bottom line is simply this, pay enough to get a safe space heater but remember spending anything more than that because of some gimmicky advertising words is simply a waste of money if all you are looking for is heat.

Would you like more practical consumer stories such as this on NewsBlaze.com? If so, contact the editor with a comment for me.

John McCormick is a reporter, /science/medical columnist and finance and social commentator, with 17,000+ bylined stories. Contact John through NewsBlaze.

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