Perhaps, you have all those cold winter nights in mind when you decided to purchase a space heater. What could be better than sleeping in a warm cozy room on your soft bed in the middle of winter without a care in the world? But a critical question is to ask is this: can you sleep with a space heater on?
Though modern room heaters can be kept on for a long time because they are packed with several safety features, leaving them on while sleeping could be dicey.
To be fair, in an ideal situation, leaving them on would be the best way to keep warm while sleeping because they are so convenient and can save you a buck or two in energy cost when compared to other forms of heating.
In the real world though, things do happen we have no control over. And no matter how sophisticated that space heater is, it is almost impossible to predict for sure that accidents won’t happen while you are sleeping.
For safety reasons and more, the short answer to if you can sleep with a space heater on is a definitive ‘No’ and for good reasons too.
Reasons You Can’t Sleep With a Space Heater On?
It could be costly
One for the benefits of using portable electric heaters as against other forms of heating, like a furnace, is how easy they are on your finances. Heaters don’t cost so much especially since you can regulate how much you use them to cut down on your electricity bill.
But if you live in a huge house with several rooms, having several of them to warm so many rooms can drain your wallet fast. Imagine the spike in your electricity bill if you have to run several heaters all night?
For such big houses, a central heating system is more economical to warm up the whole house using the furnace in the basement.
They are fire hazards
The stats from the National Fire Protection Association on the causes of fires in homes don’t reflect well on space heaters. According to the research, the second leading causes of fires in homes are traceable to heater failures.
It gets worse for space heaters: they are responsible for about 40% heater-related fires.
Most of the fires are caused by heaters accidentally tripping over or igniting something that gets close to the hot surface. The older units are also known to malfunction and in many cases would cause a fire in the wiring due to overheating.
These accidents can largely be prevented if you are awake. If you are asleep on the other hand, it is hard to imagine what you can do to mitigate the potential disaster.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning
The jury is still out on whether heaters can emit enough carbon monoxide in one night to the people sleeping in the room.
But the fact still remains that in worst case scenarios (linked to a defective heating system in the unit), carbon monoxide can be released into the environment due to incomplete combustion.
The scary thing is, even if you are awake, you’d have no idea of the creeping danger because the gas is colorless and odorless. Inhaling a fatal dose leads to death while asleep.
Dizziness, nausea, weakness, chest pain, etc, are some clear early warning symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning; you are unlikely to do something about it if you are deeply asleep.
Dry skin is one of the most overlooked problems of letting the space heater run through the night. After all, during the winter months, dry skins are taken for granted as one of the side effects of the cold.
But heating systems also contribute a lot to persistent dry skin since the heat is capable of drying out the moisture on the skin. The longer the heater is left on, the more your skin is stripped of moisture.
This can lead to other health complications especially if cracks start to appear on the skin.
Space heater safety tips to follow at night
- Two to three hours before going to sleep, you could turn on the unit to warm the room for that length of time with the windows and doors shut. Then shut it off and unplug it before going to sleep.
The heat that accumulates should be enough to you warm throughout the night.
- To combat or reduce the drying effects of space heaters on your skin, purchase and install a humidifier. This would ensure your skin is never dry by providing the moisture you need for your skin while you are asleep.
There are humidifiers of different sizes you can get for the whole house or for just your room.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly and are fully charged.
Also, install carbon dioxide detectors all over your house to warn you before the gas reach dangerous levels.
- Never try to run many appliances while the heater is on. This can overload the circuitry and start electrical fires. And make sure you use a three pin plug as the grounded outlet is important in preventing fires.
Also, don’t plug the heater directly into an extension cord because most of them were not designed to handle such high wattage.
- Keep the unit as far away as possible from combustible materials such as curtains, the edge of your bed, gas tanks, etc.
Alternative ways to stay warm at night
- Use water bottles – Water bottles are an excellent means of keeping warm if your room gets really cold at night. The latest models are inexpensive, leak-proof, and are capable of warming you for many hours.
- Block drafts – Block all gaps or leaks in the windows and doors leading outside. The small gaps and holes are notorious for letting out hot warm while allowing the cold to come in.
Once those gaps are eliminated, your room would stay warm for longer periods.
- Warm sheets – Layers of warm bedding would certainly keep you warm at night. Think comforters, duvets, flannel sheets, and warm blankets.
You can even go the extra mile by investing in quality electric blankets or even an electric mattress that would warm up the bed from underneath the sheets.
- Use warm hats and socks – Wear a knitted hat and socks to keep your head and feet warm. You would sleep easy if these parts of your body are not cold.
- Move the bed away from the window – If your bed is located under the window, move it away from there if it is possible. Single-paned windows tend to cool down at night, invariably cooling the immediate area around the window inside the room.
Though nobody loves sleeping cold at night, it is important to realize that it is not smart to use a space heater as the only source of heat in the home and it is even more foolhardy to leave it on all through the night.
All the risks and accidents mentioned above only occur when you use the healing units improperly and too often. Nothing screams ‘improperly and too often’ as much as when you sleep with the space heater on.
You might want to believe you followed all the best practices recommended by manufacturers and more, but one thing is certain: accidents happen. You don’t want that to happen while you are asleep.