With low purchase costs and the ease of setting up, electric heaters may seem like good value. But don’t be fooled into thinking it is the most appropriate heating option for you home.
Have you considered the safety aspects of your heater? Many electric heaters (especially electric bar/radiant varieties) are very cheap to purchase but are also extremely dangerous.
The exposed elements of an electric heater risk being touched by young children or animals. If something like this were to occur, there would be significant health concerns. If a radiant heater is knocked over, then a fire will likely ensue.
The furnishings of a modern home are significantly more flammable than those of previous generations, so a misplaced heater can literally cause burn your home to the ground in matter of minutes. Many heaters lack a thermostat or device to switch off if the room gets too hot.
The fire risks are not just restricted to radiant heaters. Poorly placed oil-filled and electric fan heaters have also been responsible for numerous house fires around Australia.
- In 2013, the Metropolitan Fire Service attended 47 house fires related to home heating devices (electric, gas and wood heaters)
- The Nationals MP Andrew Fraser had his daughter hospitalized and lost his Coffs Harbour house when an unattended electric heater started a blaze that gutted the family home.
- A South Adelaide family was left homeless after an electric heater was left too close to some household items. The subsequent fire resulted in $150,000 of damage to the property.
- A Northern Adelaide family managed to escape an early morning house-fire after being woken at 02:50am by their smoke alarm. A faulty electric heater started the blaze which caused $20,000 of damage.
- Another house in the Northern suburbs received fire and smoke damage after an unattended electric heater started a fire in one of the bedrooms. The house will require repairs totalling $40,000.
Electric heaters also contribute to fire risks associated with your switchboard. Trying to use multiple heaters or running one on an old electrical system (with multiple other appliances) will cause too much power to be drawn through your circuits. When too much current is drawn, the circuit breaker cuts the power or a fuse is blown.
Repeated incidents like this (or just a having very old electrical circuit) can damage the wiring and circuit breaker. This can lead to heat building up in your wiring and could trigger and electrical fire.
Homeowners should also be wary of the electrical safety of the heaters themselves. One particular problem is that a visual inspection of the electrical cord is generally not suitable in assessing the electrical integrity of the cord and associated connections inside the unit.
Over time appliance cords and extension cords can become brittle from heat damage and with the increased risk of a breakdown in the insulation, expose any user to a dangerous electrical shock risk and potential fire hazard
Remember that the electric heater fires often start when people are asleep and can spread rapidly. This contributes to ‘heaters and electrical equipment or wiring’ being the leading cause of fatal house fires.