Tips from Toby: Heating a house without burning it down

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Most of us reach for a space heater when the temperatures bring a chill to the bone,  but many of these space heaters cost you more in utility bills and potential fires than if you just turned up your furnace.

It's hard to justify spending upwards of $300 for a heater like this Solar Comfort that I've been recommending for over 20 years, but when you consider safety, lower utility bills and peace of mind, this is an investment that will keep you from getting burned.

Look for high quality components like a thick cord, thermostat, and most importantly built in safety features.

"A lot of these space heaters that you're buying, you know, garden varieties off the box shelves like you said, they don't have the protection built into them," said Don Klamm of Teague Electric. "In other words, they have an exposed heating element or real wide grates that a child could stick their fingers in or a blanket could easily get in and get into those hot filaments, it's something you want to avoid. You want to have a nice cased enclosure that can radiate the heat and get the heat out of it without having any visible contact with those hot filaments."

At this time of year it's easy to ignore a breaker switch that keeps popping when you have Christmas lights, heaters, and much more being plugged in, but these are warning signs that you need to try something else.

Any of these general lighting circuits and that's what we're really talking about any outlet that's around your walls, interior or exterior they're all general lighting 15 or 20 amp circuits.

They are all loaded to 80%. So any time you add a large load like the space heater or Christmas lights or like you mentioned you are putting a 50 or 60 or sometimes 100% load just on one outlet of an entire circuit that's already running at 80%. So what the breaker is doing when it shuts off is just saying is I've reached my maximum capacity here and I'm just shutting down.

Our friends at Teague Electric will come over to your home, tighten all your connections in your breaker box, check out all your circuits, clean and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and warn you of any potential problems, all this for $99. This is a great holiday gift to yourself and your loved ones for safety and peace of mind.

Here's something everyone needs to do. Reach and touch the cords appliance. If this cord is hot, you've got a problem, shut it off.

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