Central Indiana stores struggling to keep space heaters in stock

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Space heaters are flying off the shelves across central Indiana. As soon as the temperatures dropped below freezing, the mad rush began at local hardware stores.

"It's simply crazy. We can't keep them on the shelves," said Frank Mofford, an employee at Akard True Value in Zionsville.

Yesterday, the store had nearly 40 space heaters. On Wednesday, there were only a few left there and Mofford said if you want one, you should call soon to put it on hold.

FOX59 called around to a hand full of other local hardware stores. Nearly every Lowe's store in Indianapolis was sold out of space heaters or only had a few left. Some Menards stores said they had less than 10. The most we found were at the Carmel Home Depot, where employees said they had about 10, but didn't expect them to be on the shelves for long.

The most practical and affordable space heaters are often the first to go.

"A minimum for a small family of four, say for example,  anywhere about 30 or 60 dollars," Mofford said.

If you can't find a space heater and need more heat, there are a few options. Experts said to use anything to keep the cold air from coming inside. Plastic window coverings are one suggestion, because they keep the heat in and cold air out. They could also help lower your heating bill.

"My home went up at least seven to 10 degrees more in just one room, so I did each room individually and I'm about 10-15 degrees warmer in my home now," Mofford said.

If you're looking for something specific, it's a good idea to call the store first to see if they have it in stock.

If you do find a space heater, make sure you follow safety tips. The following tips are from the state fire marshal's office:

  • Keep at least a three-foot perimeter around space heaters at all times.
  • Space heaters should be kept away from loose or flammable objects such as clothing, curtains, bedding and furniture.
  • Only one space heater should be plugged into each electrical outlet. Never overload electrical outlets.
  • Do not leave space heaters on in unoccupied rooms.
  • If it is necessary to purchase a space heater, consider purchasing one with a built-in tilt sensor that automatically shuts off if tipped over.
  • Refuel kerosene space heaters outside the home in a well-ventilated area. Be sure to let them cool down first if they were recently used.
  • Appliances such as ovens should never be used for heating. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Low-income families struggling to keep their homes warm can get some help from the state by applying for weatherization assistance. Eligibility is based on household income; an auditor searches your home to find ways to help save energy. Then, contractors will install energy-efficiency upgrades. Once you apply, you could be on a wait-list of up to two years.

For more information on the program, click here.