All potential buyers should ask how the home is heated when shopping for a house and/or condo. This is especially important in older homes that make up the bulk of properties for sale in San Francisco. The season is irrelevant here where we all know summer can be as cold as winter. Also, year round there are rarely more than a few warm days before the fog rolls in and we are all turning on the heat.
Living in San Francisco over the years, I’ve found a combination of central heat and space heaters have worked well for my family. During the winter when I found myself at home alone and did not want to crank up the heat for the whole house and only wanted to heat one room, I used a space heater. The bathroom always felt like the North Pole in the early morning and I kept a different space heater there that took the chill off in minutes. I had one daughter whose dream was to live in a warm place and no amount of central heat was enough for her. She always had a space heater on in her bedroom. I have been around the how-to-heat-my-house block a number of times, and when my favorite space heater died I did a quick search online and found there are actually many choices.
Note to new buyers: A small investment in a few space heaters will keep you warm while you take time to research central heat, insulation and weather proofing your new home and develop a comprehensive program to heat your home or condo.
Which space heater meets your needs?
I personally have used radiant heaters and oil filled heaters, but heaters are designed for different situations and it is best to evaluate your needs and choose just the right heater. Julia Strzesieski, Marketing Coordinator at Cole Hardware, writes an excellent article in the Marina Times February Issue, where she explains the different types of space heaters.
Convection heaters directly heat the air. As cool air enters the bottom of the heater, it rises out of the top to the ceiling level and heats a room from the top down, unless a ceiling fan is used to circulate the room air. This type of heater is best used in a well-insulated room where you need a good amount of heat in a short time.
Ceramic heaters warm air by heating a ceramic element inside the unit and use a fan to either push or pull air over the hot element. Fairly portable because of their light weight, they tend to offer a smaller set of features than fan heaters but can still heat the air to a higher temperature.
Fan heaters warm the air by heating an element inside the unit and also use a fan to either push or pull air over the hot element. Fan-forced convection heaters are very effective as they blow warm air out of the bottom and can usually be moved easily from room to room.
Radiant heaters use infrared radiation to create a region of comfort in front of the heater and do not heat the air directly. Instead, these heaters will warm a room over time. Best used to heat poorly insulated or drafty, high-ceilinged rooms, some radiant heaters have a visible source of heat that glows bright red.
Oil-filled radiators are powered by electricity and are incredibly economical. The element inside the heater heats up the sealed thermal oil, which never needs to be replaced. The oil heats the radiator fins, which in turn heat the air, and although these heaters take longer to activate, the heat can last longer. These heaters are ideal for rooms that you want to heat for a longer period of time such as a bedroom, but can be less portable because of size and weight and usually take longer to heat up.
Baseboard heaters radiate heat upwards, heating the air directly above. These heaters are commonly used under a window or in drafty areas because they heat the cold air stream entering the room and spread the warm air. Baseboard heaters should never be used near draperies or flammable materials. Because these heaters tend to be three to four feet in length, the spaces where they can be used might be limiting.
Once you have made your decision on which heater is for you it is important to keep in mind that space heaters use a considerable amount of electricity and it is possible to overload the electrical system of your home or condo. If you have any question or concern, check with an electrician for advice.