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Room Heaters

Most homes in a house with forced air heat are heated uniformly throughout the house or in one of several heating zones. However, many owners want to either heat a single room or supplement the heat in it without increasing the temperature in the rest of their house. Or, some would like to heat rooms that are traditionally not a part of the central heating system, such as a garage, a workshop, an unheated porch, or an exterior space such as a potting shed or pool house. Portable space heaters can be a solution, but sometimes they cannot provide enough heat.

Here are some suggestions on other types of individual room heaters that can provide higher heat output:

  • The dancing flames of fire in a fireplace can add heat and charm to a room. Properly started, a roaring wood fire can warm even the coldest room, and gas fireplaces allow for the convenience of "heat on demand," but neither type of fireplace is very practical for routine heating.
  • Wood burning stoves are a popular choice in suburban and rural areas because the wood is often available on the property at no cost. However, these stoves need to be properly vented, require regular cleaning, need to be started, and wood needs to be added periodically to them to keep the fire going.
  • Thermostatically controlled pellet stoves use low cost, compressed wood scraps for fuel. They are easier to install than wood stoves and require less maintenance.
  • Natural gas heaters are a good choice for those buildings that are already hooked up to a gas line because the flame is automatically fed from the pipeline. Gas burns very cleanly, so gas heaters need very little maintenance. However, the price of natural gas can fluctuate quite a bit, and it cannot be stockpiled by the homeowner during periods of low cost or low demand. Some gas heaters are mounted on the floor and sit against the wall so they can be vented directly to the outside. Others can be hung from the ceiling. Most of these gas heaters can be adapted to also burn propane, but propane must be delivered to an outside storage tank. Propane is generally more expensive than natural gas, but it has the same low maintenance advantage and can be stored.
  • Electric heaters are the easiest models to install because they do not require any venting to the outside. Electricity is a reliable and clean source of energy, so the heaters require very little maintenance, but they are often the most expensive to use. These heaters come in many sizes suitable for a variety of spaces (for example, a kickspace heater can fit beneath a cabinet), but they cannot produce as much heat as other types of heaters.
  • Kerosene and oil burning heaters are usually

    the least expensive types to operate, but they need regular cleaning and maintenance. They also require an outside place to safely store the fuel. In really cold weather, oil can become so thick that it is unusable unless special additives are added to it, a further concern.

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