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Can space heaters help cut your heating bill?

December 31, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
With the chilly weather, sales of space heaters soar in the winter, but can space heaters actually save you money on your energy bills? Consumer specialist Ric Romero has sized up space heaters, including the heavily advertised Amish heater.

"The exciting new Amish custom built Heat Surge Fireplace and real wooden mantle proudly made by Amish craftsmen in the heartland of America," states an infomercial.

You may have seen the infomercial for the Heat Surge Fireplace, or newspaper ads claiming it will "help home heat bills hit rock-bottom."

Consumer Reports' Jim Nanni checked out the Heat Surge, which costs $298 and up, if you order what the company calls a "hand-built Amish fireplace mantle."

"The Heat Surge is essentially an electric space heater with faux fireplace that's made in China. The fireplace is illuminated by some light bulbs," described Nanni.

So can the Heat Surge or any space heater save you money on your energy bills?

"You could potentially save some money using an electric space heater by heating just one room while lowering the heat in the rest of your home," said Nanni.

Otherwise, space heaters just add to your energy costs. As for the Heat Surge, Nanni said, "You can find many less expensive heaters with high performance."

Consumer Reports recommends an $80 Delonghi space heater, which can be mounted on a wall.

"If you really want to save some money, reduce temperatures five to 10 degrees at night and when you're away. You can save up to 20 percent on your heating bill and you can remain comfortable, in every room in your home," advised Nanni.