As Metro Vancouver continues to shiver through this cold snap a lot of people are feeling the chill inside their homes.

Many people are turning to space heaters for extra warmth. Some perform better than others for spot heating but 40 per cent of home heating fires are caused by space heaters so you want to choose your heater carefully.

Consumer Reports tested many popular models, measuring surface temperature to see if it gets too hot to touch.

"In most cases the heaters are pretty cool but if you do have pets or children stay away from heaters with metal surfaces and large areas that are easy to contact," said Peter Sawchuck of Consumer Reports.

Another test mimics what happens if something flammable touches the space heater.

"Always keep your space heater at least three feet away from flammable objects. And never use an extension cord," suggests Sawchuck.

Look for a space heater with a tip over switch that shuts it off if knocked over and an overheat sensor to turn if off it gets too hot.

A mannequein equipped with sensors measured how much warmth a space heater can provide through spot heating. The smaller personal sized heaters struggled. You may want to choose something larger.

For a bit more money you can get one that's slightly larger. Consumer Reports recommends the Lasko Designer series. At $85, it's portable with a remote control and with the safety features you need.

Keep in mind that not all larger space heaters will offer more heat than smaller ones but they are meant to stay in place, so it's a good option to put in a larger room.

The experts also recommend a fan. It spreads the heat and warms up a room faster. Some even oscillate, which helps even more.

Now all of this is going to be drawing power so here are some power saving tips:

  • Look for drafts. That's where cold air is coming in and you've got to get it under control.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat.
  • Turn your ceiling fan on in reverse because hot air rises and the fan will bring warmth back down.
  • Shut blinds and drapes.
  • Heavier drapes keep heat in in the winter and keeps the heat out in the summer.