This past winter saw some particularly cold evenings in my otherwise warm, southern climate.

  • We saw record lows in the bottom 30s and even one night where there were snow flurries for a few hours as a low front moved in from out west.

But, this is not typical weather at all, and many of us have minimal heating systems in our homes for this very reason. In the past 10 years I have owned my house down here, there were only three occasions that demanded use of my central electric furnace. Electric furnaces are not cheap to run regularly, and when I need it the most are on nights where I curl up in my bedroom with my dog by my side and watch television while falling asleep. I don’t really want or need to keep the rest of the house warm on these nights, just my master bedroom. Therefore, I thought buying a simple space heater would do the trick. I could use it to warm only my bedroom and nothing else, completely bypassing any need for the central furnace unless I wanted the whole house warmer. When I bought my new space heater, I gave little thought to watts, amperage, and safety ratings. Instead, I went with a device that was clearanced out at an extremely affordable price. After getting it home, I took it out of the box and immediately plugged it into a surge strip and turned it on. At no point did I read any of the operating or safety instructions. Just an hour later I smelled burning plastic and found the surge strip lightly smoking—the plastic plug had melted to the strip and there was a wide, black char mark around the base of the plug. I am extremely lucky for not burning down my house and will never try to operate heating and cooling equipment again without following the strict safety guidelines.

 

 

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