5 Essential Products to Help Weather a Winter Storm

"Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today." That notion, attributed to Thomas Jefferson, is doubly true if tomorrow's forecast calls for a winter storm. As winter rages on, each bad storm brings with it a new round of panic, as folks flood home-improvement centers in search of generators, flashlights, and just about anything else that can help you weather prolonged cold spells and periodic power outages.Unfortunately, the eve of a bad winter storm is a terrible time to shop for cold-climate essentials-inventory tends to be scarce, tensions are high, and you're liable to grab the first items you find and rush home. So when there's a break in the weather, take the chance to track down these essential products tested by Consumer Reports. GeneratorIf you live in an area prone to power outages, consider a stationary generator, which is generally more expensive but can run on on your home's natural-gas supply or on propanefor five to 13 days on a 250-gallon tank.Opt for a licensed electrician, who should connect it to your home's electrical panel using a transfer switch.In our tests, the Kohler 14 RESAL, $3,700, delivered reliable, surge-free power, and was exceptionally easy to use. It's also relatively quiet.For lighter power needs, consider a portable, gasoline-powered model like the Generac RS7000E, $900. It'll run note to 15 hours on its 7½-gallon tank, but you'll need to store fuel for longer outages. Shop Generators on Amazon Snow BlowerIf the allure of easily removing snow from your driveway hasn't motivated you to buy a snow blower, try thinking of it as a safety tool. In a serious winter storm, you'll be glad you've got a snow blower, which can easily clear a path to your car, not to mention make it possible to pull out of your driveway once the plows have passed.To tackle the aftermath of most snowstorms, the two-stage Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30, $1,500, makes quick work of snow packed 16 inches high. If you live in a climate with even more serious snowfall, consider a three-stage blower like the Cub Cadet 3X 30" HD, $1,650, which can handle 18 inches of snow or more in a single pass.Shop Snow Blowers on Amazon Space HeaterIf the power goes out and you're relying on a generator, a space heater will let you hunker down in a single room and stay warm while using considerably less energy than an electric heat pump or furnace, both of which heat your whole house. If you heat your home with gas or propane or another heating source, skip the space heater in favor of your furnace. And if you rely on propane, heating oil, or wood pellets and a bad storm makes the roads impassable but doesn't knock out the power, use the heater to stay warm and toasty while you wait for your next delivery.The Dyson AM09, $450, gets top marks (at a top price) for heating a small space, while the far less expensiveLifesmart ZCHT1001US, $90, did a nice job heating larger rooms. Shop Space Heaters on Amazon Chain SawHeavy snow and ice can down branches long after a storm has passed. That's one of the struggles faced by utility workers as they attempt to restore power after a storm. So take a hint from them and buy and use a chain saw before a winter storm hits. Not only will you get to choose from top-performing models, but by being proactive and trimming precarious limbs before a storm, you'll also minimize damage to your home during snowfall and avoid the tedious yard cleanup after.If you've got only a few trees or live on a smaller lot, a battery-powered model like the Ego CS1401, $250, should provide all the power you need. If you've got an outdoor outlet, a corded electric model like the Stihl MS 170 C-BQ, $300, will work nicely and doesn't require charging. For heavily wooded lots with more mature trees, consider the gas-powered Echo CS-590-20, $365, which has a 20-inch bar for downing larger limbs.Shop Chain Saws on Amazon Smoke & CO Alarms and Fire ExtinguishersAll three are safety essentials, but the unusual risks posed by weathering a winter storm power outage make them even more important. Burning candles for light, operating a generator, or using a space heater can all increase the chances you'll need one of these life-saving devices.For smoke and fire detection, the Kidde Pl9010, $200, excelled at detecting smoke and smoldering fires, while the First Alert One Link SCO501CN, $70, is a top pick for detecting carbon monoxide.Ourfire extinguisher buying guideprovides essential information on choosing between models. (We don't test fire extinguishers at this time.)Shop Fire Extinguishers on Amazon More from Consumer Reports:Top pick tires for 2016Best used cars for $25,000 and less7 best mattresses for couplesConsumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright 2006-2017 Consumers Union of U.S.

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I'm Looking for a Space Heater for My Cubicle.?
I'm looking for a space heater for my cubicle.?This Site Might Help You. RE: I'm looking for a space heater for my cubicle.? I work in an office cubicle setting and it gets pretty cold in there. I'd like a smaller personal heater that doesn't make a lot of noise. It seems the ones I find are either too large, too noisy, or too unreliable. Does anyone have any suggestions?— — — — — —Help with my space heater and electricity usage?It depends on the heater. Many will be 500, 1000, 1500 watts on the different settings. But I saw one where the low, med, high only changed the fan speed, it had really only one heat setting. I can not answer your question without looking at the heater. If it has only one element it is likely all 1,500 watts on all the settings. NO, you cannot close off your vents to heat only one room. You will overheat the furnace and can damage it, crack the heat exchanger. They are designed to have full air flow. I tell customers they can close off one room only. And that depends on the furnace. If the furnace is oversized even shutting off one room causes problems. You should never run a tank dry. Plus sitting empty means there is a lot of air space in the oil tank and that means more condensation putting water in the tank. It is not a good thing. Natural gas is much cheaper if it is available. Good Luck— — — — — —where can I find someone to fix my space heater?what most appliance repair companies are gonna charge just for looking at it will probably cost more than buying a new one— — — — — —How much does it cost to run a space heater through winter?the electric consumption is usually listed on the back or side of the heater...depends on which type heater and usually what "not that much"...means to you— — — — — —Running two space heaters on low vs one on high?On low is good, but those heater are on the same circuit in your home. Try to run an heavy duty extension cord from another room, this would seperate the heaters being on the same circuit and wouldnt trip breakers anymore— — — — — —How bad are space-heaters in terms of energy consumption?I do not have a technical answer for you, but my impression is that space heaters are not seen as a bad thing in terms of energy consumption. In fact I would say they have one big advantage over a whole-house forced air system: they heat the occupant of the house rather than heating the whole house. Turn down your propane heater and keep the space heater, I say.— — — — — —How many watts, amps and volts does it take to run a space heater?That depends on what sort of heater it is. It should have a label on it that tells you how much power it consumes. Since you are going to buy it in your own country and you are not engaging in fancy electronics then all you need to know about is the amount of watts that it uses.— — — — — —How to use a space heater without burning down your houseNo, not a shot of a "Star Wars" casting call - these are the Honeywell My Energy Smart (left) and 360 Surround (right) room heaters, flanking the Dyson AM05 Hot Cool Fan Heater. Read more Heating season has officially arrived, so you've likely already once again become accustomed to the hum of your furnace. And if your home has heating issues, you may have also broken out a space heater to stave off dropping temperatures. But while space heaters are often used to provide an extra boost to your heat, they do come with risks. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters account for about 43% of U.S. home heating fires, and 85% of deaths related to home heating fires. "Space heaters do present a potential fire hazard, but they can be used safely," says NFPA communications manager Susan McKelvey. "Many fires that occur are because of human error, so if you can realize where those behaviors can contribute to a home fire, you can take steps to minimize those risks." So how can you use space heaters without burning your house down? Here is what you need to know: Space heaters are a convenient way to warm up your home, and in some cases - like if your furnace conks out - they may be necessary. But overall, they should be seen as a "last resort, not a first resort," to solving a heating problem, says Steve Luxton, executive director and CEO of the Energy Coordinating Agency, local energy conservation nonprofit. That's especially true in Philadelphia, which has older housing stock with many using built before 1950. Older homes, Luxton says, often have older wiring that is not designed to handle the loads that a constantly running space heater demands - particularly in conjunction with other electrical appliances. Generally, he adds, space heaters pull about 1,500 watts of power per hour, which can be problematic for old wiring. "You are pulling a lot of energy through an old line, and it's probably not the only appliance on that line because these homes were underserved with electrical outlets," he says. "Electricity develops resistance, and that translates to heat," which can cause an electrical fire. But even if your home has newer, updated wiring, there's another factor to consider: Cost. Electricity, Luxton says, is much more expensive to use as a heating fuel than something like gas, which can translate into higher bills during heating season if you are constantly using a space heater. Instead, you might just consider turning your heat up a couple of degrees - or, if there's an issue with your system, you could try having it fixed instead, such as by bleeding radiators or removing a blockage in your heating ducts. "It will be cheaper to get a heating contractor out there to figure out why this space is not heating up correctly, instead of using a Band-Aid, which is what the space heater is," he says. » READ MORE: Outdoor heaters are the hot accessory as it gets colder. Here's how to buy one. Start with the manual, which will have safety information for that specific model, says Philadelphia Fire Department firefighter Namor Brown. Here's the best advice, according to Brown, Luxton, and Electrical Safety Foundation International: If you need to use a space heater, there's no shortage of them on the market - and they come in a variety of types, including oil or water-filled radiators, fan-forced heaters, ceramic heaters, and infrared heaters. No matter when you end up getting, though, there are a few elements to consider before you buy. » READ MORE: How to do everything better right now: A collection of our most useful stories
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