Homeowners rely on vent-free heaters when energy costs rise

March 1, 2008 By    

Safety is the key issue with heating equipment. Here, we examine the history, frequency and cause of space heater fires.

When energy costs rise, more homeowners turn to vent-free heating appliances, such as fireplace inserts, to supplement their central heating systems.

The Alliance for Vent Free Heaters estimates that about 500,000 new vent-free propane heating appliances are sold every year in the United States, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) reported in a 2005 fact sheet.

According to PERC, homeowners are increasingly interested in portable vent-free heaters and the clean-burning features of propane. That led to PERC’s funding of a research project to assist the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) in developing an indoor cabinet heater fueled by propane. The propane would be contained in a composite cylinder, which is lighter, more attractive and a potentially safer alternative to the gas grill steel cylinder.

According to the PERC release, the project’s launch could have increased propane sales by 10 to 30 million gallons in the first year and 300 to 500 million gallons per year after 20 years. However, in February 2008, the project, which still required National Fire Protection Association approval, took a giant step backward. The NPGA, behind the urging of many in the industry, changed its strategy on the issue and halted the project.

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