Welcome to week six of "Hiber-Nation," a special series of posts featuring home accessories and other odds and ends that will hopefully help make housebound-in-the-winter life a bit more enjoyable.

Picture this very common "Hiber-Nation" scenario: You've grabbed a good book, a mug filled with your favorite hot beverage, and a throw blanket and retreated to the den for a few hours of not-going-to-move-an-inch "me time." Sounds cozy, eh? Well, this cozy scene would be even cozier if you weren't heating your entire house with a clunky old gas furnace. The next time you hunker down for a spell in a specific room, turn the thermostat down a few notches and use an energy-efficient electric space heater.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating a single room or area of your home (AKA "zone heating") with a portable space heater can be more efficient (and less expensive) than heating your entire house with central heat. One popular estimate claims that cranking down your thermostat and using an energy-efficient space heater in a room can help lower household heating costs by 10 percent while preventing the emission of 800 pounds of CO2.

Although EnergyStar does not label portable space heaters, there are a few electric models out there with energy-saving features to help you further reduce energy costs. Check 'em out below. And no, incandescent light bulbs didn't make the cut.

When buying and operating an electric space heater, remember that safety should come first (before energy savings). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 25,000 residential fires each year are the result from space heater use. Here are a few tips from the DOE on how to safely operate a space heater while achieving maximum energy savings:

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater has the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label attached to it.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heaters, since they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
Vornado DVTH Whole Room Heater @ The Home Depot ($119.99)

Cozy Products Eco-Save Compact Heater @Target ($49.95)

Herman Miller C2 Climate Control @ Herman Miller ($280)

Honeywell Cool Touch EnergySmart Heater @ Amazon.com ($58.30)

DeLonghi Tower Ceramic Heater with Eco Energy @ Sears ($61.79)

Holmes HEH8001-U Energy-Saver 1500-Watt Heater Fan @ Amazon.com ($34.99)

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Hiber-Nation: Space heaters
Like to hunker down in a specific room when the weather outside is frightful? Instead of heating your entire home while doing so, lower the thermostat and inves