You may have seen an infomercial for the Amish Custom-built Heat Surge Fireplace, the real wooden mantle made by Amish craftsmen.

Ads claim that it will "help home heat bills hit rock-bottom" and provide a "drastic reduction in energy bills."

Consumer Reports' Jim Nanni checked out the Heat Surge, which costs $298 and up if you order what the company calls a "Hand-built Amish Fireplace Mantle."

"The heat surge is essentially an electric space heater with faux fireplace that's made in China. The fireplace is illuminated by some light bulbs," Nanni said.

So can the heat surge or any space heater save you money on your energy bills?

"You could potentially save some money using an electric space heater by heating just one room while lowering the heat in the rest of your home," he said.

Otherwise space heaters just add to your energy costs. As for the Heat Surge, Nanni says you can find many less expensive heaters with high performance.

Convection heaters are good at heating an entire room to an even temperature. Fan forced air heaters are ideal to heat a small area under a desk where you are working.

A ceramic one operates at a lower temperature while putting out the same amount of heat.

And radiant heaters direct the heat towards whatever they are aimed at -- without heating up the whole room. It's ideal for a workshop but not for inside a home

Consumer Reports recommends a $100 Delonghi space heater which can be mounted on a wall.

With any heater, it's important to keep it away from curtains, furniture, bedding and other flammable objects.

To really save money, turn the temperature down two to five degrees Celsius at night and when you're not home.

"You can save up to 20 per cent on your heating bill and you can remain comfortable, in every room in your home," Nanni said.

Some safety tips for space heaters:

  • Never leave a space heater unattended
  • If you're pulling out last year's model, check the cord to make sure it's not frayed
  • Avoid using an extension cord. If you must, keep it short and use a heavy duty extension cord. A regular household cord will overheat and that's a fire hazard.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen