I recently found out that my elderly relative has a rather unique way of trying to warm his home in the winter.
He turns on the oven and leaves the door open for hours at a time to keep his kitchen toasty, despite also having central heating on in there. Although he sees no issue with it, I think there are several problems.
Firstly, the oven is between 35 to 40 years old and so is already not very energy efficient compared to today’s standards. By leaving it on for hours, it must be using much energy and money?
Unsafe: Leaving the oven door open, whilst it is on, to heat the home is not recommended
Secondly, I would imagine this is unsafe. What if it overheated and started a fire?
Can you advise exactly how bad this method of heating a home is so I can try and convince him to finally stop doing it?
Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: While this sounds extremely unusual, I wouldn’t be surprised if others have similar methods of heating their home which many of us would never dream of.
You are right to be concerned as there are numerous safety issues with regards to leaving an oven door open to heat the home.
You haven’t mentioned what type of oven it is. Most homes these days use electric ones, but some do still have gas versions.
Either way, it is hazard for an older person. Firstly, your relative could walk into the oven door or even potentially burn themselves touching it.
Secondly, if it is a gas oven, there is the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning from the fumes.
This can be incredibly serious and life threatening. The risk is even greater if the oven door is left open for long periods of time.
Whilst having an electric oven will eliminate this particular risk, it is still possible it may overheat and is likely to decrease the lifespan of the oven – although, as you say, his oven is now quite old.
Another risk is that, when leaving an oven on, whilst open, it can also be a fire hazard if it is gas operated.
For example, if a tea towel accidentally fell in or something similar, it could catch light and start a blaze.
Importantly, having an oven door open also offers no effective way to get hot air circulating through the rest of your home.
It will also cost a lot of money to have an oven turned on all day. This is Money previously revealed that an electric oven used for just 90 minutes per week will cost around £27 a year.
This means one that is turned on for hours a day is likely to add hundreds of pounds to annual bills – and the figure above is based on a modern model of oven.
Using space heaters if you are cold, alongside central heating, is a much better alternative
A spokesperson for the Energy Saving Trust replies: An electric oven will use standard rate electricity to provide heat, which is a very expensive way to heat your home.
A gas oven should be well ventilated, which means it will lose more heat than a gas boiler and is therefore less efficient than a gas central heating system.
Energy Saving Trust advises that whatever the type of oven, it is not designed to heat a house and will not distribute heat as evenly as a central heating system.
Peter Earl, head of energy at Compare the Market replies: Using your oven to heat your home is not only extremely expensive compared to conventional heating methods, but particularly dangerous.
It is okay to enjoy the residual heat that you get from your oven after cooking a meal, but leaving it on to heat your home could cause a fire or depending on the type of oven, could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The best way to heat your home is through your central heating.
If you find this isn’t keeping you warm enough, get a professional in to check for draughts, review your insulation, and offer advice on energy saving solutions.
Will Owen, energy expert at Uswitch, replies: It’s important to always keep the oven door closed while you’re cooking. Each time you open the door, the oven loses heat – sometimes as much as 25 degrees – and requires more energy to get back up to temperature.
On a similar note, try to keep the oven door clean so you can look in, rather than having to open it to see how your food is doing.
Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: Ultimately, leaving the oven on and the door open is not a good idea at all.
If he is really struggling to keep the kitchen warm, it could be worth purchasing some space heaters that he can use additionally as and when needed.
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