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energy wise ■ The Truth About Space Heaters They warm your room—and burn through your cash.


BY JOHN DRAKE COOPERATIVE ENERGY ADVISOR


pace heaters make my life awfully difficult, especially when we experience prolonged bouts of colder than normal weather. That’s when well-intentioned homeowners, in the quest to “take the chill off,” pull out the space heater, turn it on, and leave it on indefinitely.


S


Yes, those handy gadgets can really warm up a room. At the same time, they are burning through an alarming number of kilowatt-hours. In other words, your hard-earned cash.


And that’s when my


phone starts ringing. In December, for instance, temperatures across the entire state plunged well below freezing and stayed there. Thanks to the Oklahoma Mesonet, we now know that December 2013 is ranked as 17th coldest December on record. Top honors go to December 1983, which is so long ago that most of us barely remember it, much less what we paid on our electric bill.


Back to those ringing phones. When CEC bills for December usage arrived, the collective response was a resounding “Oh, no.” Christmas lights, nonstop cooking, visitors in and out, and kids plopped in front of the TV for days combined with frigid temperatures that kept everyone’s heating units working overtime, well,it all added up. And then we have the small and humble looking space heater.


When I am asked to investigate unusually high winter bills, my first question is always, “Are you running a space heater?”


Very often the answer is yes. When I explain the very real costs of operating a space heater, most members are shocked.


Electric space heaters are one of the most energy consuming monsters you could have in your home, not to mention one of the most dangerous appliances.


“Electric space heaters are one of the most energy consuming monsters you could have in your home, not to mention one of the most dangerous appliances.”


Consider these facts: Most of the electric heaters on the market are between 750 and 1,500 watts. One thousand watts equals


one kilowatt hour (kwh), so 1,500 watts equals 1.5 kwh on your electric meter.


Say you have two 1,500 watt space heaters located in separate bedrooms in your home. You operate them nightly from 8 pm until 8 am.


If electricity costs 10 cents per kwh, and your two electric heaters run 12 hours a day using 1.5 kwh per hour, your space heaters cost 30 cents per hour to run.


Multiply 30 cents by 12 hours running time, and it comes to $3.60 per day. That’s $108 per month for just two small space heaters! This doesn’t even include the remainder of your household usage.


This is a perfect example of how quickly small appliances and gadgets can run up your electric bill.


If maintaining a reasonable winter electric bill is your goal, and I hope it is, I encourage a little old-fashioned wisdom. The next time you are tempted to plug in that space heater to stay cozy, I encourage you to put on a sweater instead.■


John Drake is Choctaw Electric’s energy use specialist. For questions about your home’s energy usage, or to schedule a free home energy audit, please contact John Drake or Mark Zachry at 800-780-6486, ext. 233.


Lucky Account # 38847379. $75 BILL CREDIT! If this number matches the account number on your bill, you must notify CEC by the 10th of month (via email, phone, or in person) to claim the $75 bill credit. (Unclaimed credits roll over to the next month; up to a $100 bill credit.) Please call 800-780-6486, ext. 207.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY Tip of the Month


When you’re checking your home for air leaks, remember to inspect the exterior of your home, too. Air leaks are often found where two types of building materials meet, including exterior corners, outdoor faucets, where siding and chimneys meet, and the areas where the foundation and the exterior walls meet.


Source: US Department of Energy


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