Electric Radiant Room Heaters Efficient, Safe


QUESTION: I have heard about electric radiant room heaters that make you feel as if you’re sitting in the sun’s heat without the heater getting really hot. Are these heaters efficient and can I install one myself?

ANSWER: Electric radiant heaters are energy efficient and produce very comfortable heat. Since the surface temperature of these heaters is only about 150 degrees, they are very safe.

Radiant heat is very efficient because, like the sun’s rays, it heats you and other objects in your room, not just the room air. You can keep your room several degrees cooler, yet still be comfortably warm. Also, the temperature distribution from floor to ceiling is more constant.

There are several methods to use electric radiant heaters in your home. Hanging a lightweight radiant “picture” heater on your wall is the simplest method. It looks like a painting hanging on your wall. There are many colorful patterns and scenes available. If you are artistic, you can buy a blank one and paint your own scene on it.


To install one, you just hang it on the wall and plug the cord into a standard wall electrical outlet. A small, lighted switch on the side of the heater indicates it is on. A 500-watt radiant picture heater is two by three feet by one-inch deep. A 350-watt heater is two by two feet by one-inch deep.

Picture heaters warm up quickly and are ideal for chilly bathrooms in the morning. The bathroom models are wired to a wall switch for safety.

Another option is a long narrow cove electric radiant heater mounted up on the wall near the ceiling. This radiates heat downward to your body. As with all wall-mounted radiant heaters, there is some natural warm air circulation over the warm surface which helps to better distribute the heat.

For heating an entire large room or a specific area of a room, you can mount special electric radiant heating panels in the ceiling. These are often mounted above a shallow dropped ceiling. There are also some models in attractive fixtures that attach beneath your existing ceiling.

If you plan to zone heat your home with different temperatures in various rooms or areas, electric radiant heat is very effective. You can keep a room cooler to save energy and switch on the radiant heaters only when you use the room. Each degree you lower your heat pump or furnace thermostat for eight hours can cut your heating costs by 1% to 3%.

You can write to me at the address below for Utility Bills Update No. 365 listing addresses and telephone numbers of manufacturers of electric radiant picture, cove and ceiling-mounted heaters and product information and specifications. Please include $1.50 and a self-addressed business-size envelope.

Newer Solid State TV Requires Less Power

Q: I have an older color television with an instant-on feature so I unplug it when it’s not being used. My new color TV comes on almost as quickly. Should I unplug it too?

A: Many older color TVs do have an instant-on feature. This keeps the tubes heated up for quick start up, but it wastes a lot of electricity.

You should check your owner’s manual for your new color TV, but it most likely does not have an instant-on feature. The new solid state circuits take very little time to warm up, so the instant-on feature is not needed. Also, when the TV is on, a new solid state model uses less electricity than your old one.

Fan Should Blow Air Upward in Winter

Q: I always argue with my husband about the proper direction for a ceiling paddle fan to rotate in the winter. I think it should blow the air upward, not downward. Which is correct?

A: Chalk one up for you. The blades of a ceiling paddle fan should rotate to blow the room air upward. This slowly moves warm air near the ceiling upward and outward along the ceiling. The warm air then slowly flows down the walls without creating a chilly draft.

Most ceiling fans have a small reversing switch on the side of the motor housing. During the winter, operate the ceiling fan on the lowest speed to save electricity and not create a draft.

Letters and questions to Dulley, a Cincinnati-based engineering consultant, may be sent to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.