And how should it be used?

A space heater is intended to heat a space directly, unlike a central heating furnace or boiler which distributes heat to the house through a system of ducts or pipes. The most common form of space heaters are wood stoves, but the category also includes cook stoves, heating fireplaces, fireplace inserts, pellet stoves and masonry heaters.

In the old days a space heater could only be expected to heat the room it was installed in and perhaps an adjacent area because houses were leaky and areas remote from the space heater would get too cold. Newer houses, with more insulation and sealed walls and ceilings, retain heat more effectively. A single space heater can provide the total heat needs for an average modern home, provided the stove or fireplace is properly located.

If you want to provide most of your house's heating needs with a space heater, it should be located in the area where your family spends most of its time. That way, the warmest part of the house is where people tend to hang out and other spaces, like basement and bedrooms, stay a little cooler.

The central main floor area where kitchen, living and dining rooms are located is usually the best location for a space heater. By locating the space heater in this area, you will be warm and comfortable while you eat meals, relax and entertain.

A basement location is not usually good for effective space heating. The heated air from the stove does rise to higher levels of the house, of course, but it is not usually enough to heat the upstairs comfortably. Usually, in an effort to keep the main floor living spaces comfortably warm, the basement is overheated. This wastes fuel and the constant high firing can damage the stove's insides. Unfinished basements, with uninsulated walls and floor, are particularly bad locations because too much of the heat is absorbed by the walls and lost to the outside. Also, space heaters operating in basements may over heat or go on smoldering for hours without anyone noticing. The basement is only a good location for a space heater if you spend much of your time in a family or recreation room located downstairs.