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Learn Helpful Tips & Tricks from the Community

Electric Space Heaters - Initial Costs and Operating Costs

Modern electric heaters are a popular way to take the chill off a room in the fall or to help with temporary heating in hard to heat parts of your house. However, it is important to become educated on the basics of electric heat to avoid spending too much money on the initial purchase and on the continued operation of your space heater. Safety is another issue, as some electric heaters are capable of lighting a piece of paper or other combustible household materials on fire.

You might often see TV, Magazine and Newspaper advertising for electric heaters and electric fireplaces making claims which are suspect. Some of these heavily advertised units are called “Amish Fireplaces”, “Eden Pure”, “Ceramic Disc Heaters”. etc. The ads would have you believe that these units are more efficient - that is, that they produce more heat for your dollar than a less expensive unit.

But the fact is that these heaters do not save money over a much less expensive electric heater. They are simply evidence that if you confuse customers with enough technical terms, the customer may be impressed and buy such a unit. And, make no mistake, millions of these units are sold! Be sure to understand the efficiency factor - there may be reasons you want an upscale unit…looks, features or just wanting something different than the hardware store models…but the price of the actual delivered heat is not a reason to buy the fancier units.

Plug-in Electric space heaters are limited in heating ability by the capacity of an average electrical wall socket. As a result, you will see that most are labeled as 1500 watts maximum, which works out to the same as 5100 BTU/HR. Such a heater on full would use 1.5 KWH of electricity for each hour of use, which would cost about 24 cents in our service area. Electric heat is usually more expensive than any other forum - BTU to BTU, but your savings results from being allowed to stay warm in one...
Tips for purchasing Firewood
A Cord is A Cord is a Cord

1. Bulk firewood is usually sold by a measurement called a cord or fraction of a cord.” A cord is defined as 128 cubic feet when the wood is neatly stacked in a line or row as indicated in the diagram below. A standard “cord” would be 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high.

2. Be wary of measurement terms such as “rick,” “rack,” “face cord,” “pile,” or “truckload. These terms are prohibited in some states when advertising or selling firewood or stove wood. Since these terms cannot be defined exactly, it is in your best interest to purchase firewood that is measured by the true cord.

3. Fireplace or stove wood is defined as: any kindling logs, boards, timbers, or other wood. The logs may be whole or pre-split. They may be purchased seasoned (dried) or fresh-cut. If you are buying freshly cut (or “green”) wood, be sure to allow for 8-12 months minimum for proper drying.

4. In most states, sellers are required to provide buyers with an invoice which shows the seller’s name, address, phone number, price per cord, total amount, and the type of wood purchased.

5. It is a good idea to get references from your wood seller. Buyers should write down the license plate number of the wood delivery truck. The delivered wood should be stacked (by seller or you) in a cord or fraction of a cord. Measure the stack (width x height x length) and contact the seller immediately if you did not receive the quantity purchased. If you discover a problem with your purchase, it may be helpful to take a picture of the stacked wood.

Note: The HEARTH Education Foundation (HEARTH) has generously allowed HearthNet to reprint the first chapter of the HEARTH Gas Appliance Specialist Training Manual. HEARTH is an independent, non-profit agency that promotes safe and responsible use of hearth products through professional training and public education. HEARTH maintains a web site and a list of certified specialists who have received training and passed exams in 5 areas of hearth products expertise: Fireplace, Gas, Pellet, Venting, and Woodstove.


Origin and History of Gas Fuels

The search for ways to keep one’ s hearth warm and inviting has been an age old quest. The products of this quest have included a variety of solid fuels such as wood, coal, coke, peat, and charcoal. More recent discoveries (in terms of their practical or commercial value) have included the use of natural gas (NG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Their flammability, high energy value, and convenience have resulted in a historically rapid rise to extensive use as a fuel today.

The composition of natural gas varies in different localities. However, it is always a colorless, highly flammable gas consisting primarily of methane. Methane usually makes up from 80 to 95 percent of its volume (commonly listed as 81.1%). The balance is composed of varying amounts of methane, another hydrocarbon compound, and other gases carbon dioxide, nitrogen, helium, argon, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and sometimes, hydrogen sulfide.

Origin and Location

The most accepted theory of the origin of natural gas assumes that natural gas hydrocarbons come from organic matter (the remains of land and aquatic plants and animals) that was captured in sediments and changed over long periods of time into their present form. Some geologists believe that natural gas is a byproduct or an end product of the...