July 24, 2014

Recall: Lasko Portable Electric Heaters Due To Fire Hazard

Type of Product: Portable electric heater

Units: About 107,500 units.

Manufacturer: Lasko Products Inc., of West Chester, Pa.

Hazard: An electrical connection in the base of the unit can overheat, causing it to melt and expose the electrical connection, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Lasko received a total of 36 reports of the electrical connection overheating with no reports of injury. There were 18 reports of minor burn damage to floors or carpets.

Description: The portable, electric, tower heaters are 20.5 inches tall x 8.25 inches wide x 9.25 inches deep. They are dark grey with silver front covers and black vent slats. The brand names Lasko or Air King are on the top, center of the front cover. The Lasko Model 5540 and Air King Model 8540 subject to this recall were manufactured in 2002 and have date codes that begin with a “2.” The date code is on the label located on the bottom of the unit. The date code is a four-digit number on the bottom left area of the label, above the voltage number. Heaters with date codes beginning with “3,” “4″ or “5″ are not subject to this recall.

Sold at: The Lasko Model 5540 was sold at Sam’s Club and other retailers from September 2002 through early 2004 for $39 to $49. The Air King Model 8540 was sold primarily through the maintenance, repair and operating products supply company, W.W. Grainger Inc. from late 2002 to 2004 for approximately $80.00

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the heaters immediately and contact Lasko to receive a free replacement heater.

Consumer Contact: For additional information and pictures of affected models, visit Lasko’s website at www.Laskoproducts.com, or call Lasko anytime, toll-free at (800) 363-8044.

Winter Weather Warning: CPSC and USFA Issue Home Heating Safety Alert

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) are urging consumers to play it safe as winter weather blankets the United States.

According to USFA, home fires spike in winter months. Cooking and home heating are the leading causes of residential building fires during the winter. The risk of fires also increases with the use of supplemental heating, such as space heaters.

CPSC estimates that home heating was associated with an average of 33,300 fires and 180 fire deaths per year from 2005 to 2007.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is also a serious threat in the winter months. Any fuel-burning appliances in the home, including furnaces and fireplaces, are a potential CO source. Carbon monoxide is called the “invisible killer,” because it is an odorless, colorless and poisonous gas.

There has been an increasing trend in unintentional, non-fire CO deaths associated with consumer products since 1999. CPSC staff estimates there were 184 CO poisoning deaths on average per year from 2005-2007 compared to 122 deaths per year from 1999-2001. Since 1999, the majority of CO deaths have been associated with heating systems and portable generators.

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are an important line of defense in the home, and they give consumers valuable escape time. About two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms, or in homes where consumers have removed the alarm’s batteries or where the batteries are dead. Recently, there were tragic deaths in homes where alarms could have made a difference:

* In Citra, Fla., a fire killed five children on November 8. Their home did not have smoke alarms.
* In Penfield, N.Y., a 54-year-old man died of CO poisoning in November. Prior to his death, the home’s CO alarms reportedly beeped and were removed from the house.

CPSC and USFA recommend that in addition to having working smoke and CO alarms, consumers should follow these safety tips to prevent fires and CO poisoning:

Preventing Fires:

* Place space heaters on a floor that is flat and level. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets. Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable materials; and place space heaters out of the flow of foot traffic. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
* To prevent the risk of fire, NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or place a space heater close to any sleeping person. Turn the heater off when you leave the area. See CPSC’s electric space heater safety alert for more space heater safety tips (pdf).
* Never use gasoline in a kerosene space heater. Even small amounts of gasoline mixed with kerosene can increase the risk of a fire.
* Have fireplace flues and chimneys inspected for leakage and blockage from creosote or debris every year.
* Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool. An open damper may help prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside the home.
* Store fireplace ashes in a fire-resistant container, and cover the container with a lid. Keep the container outdoors and away from combustibles. Dispose of ashes carefully, keeping them away from dry leaves, trash or other combustible materials.

Preventing CO poisoning:

* Schedule a yearly professional inspection of all fuel-burning home heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents.
* NEVER operate a portable gasoline-powered generator in an enclosed space, such as a garage, shed, or crawlspace, or in the home.
* Keep portable generators as far away from your home and your neighbors’ homes as possible – away from open doors, windows or vents that could allow deadly carbon monoxide into the home.
* When purchasing a space heater, ask the salesperson whether the heater has been safety-certified. A certified heater will have a safety certification mark. These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features. An unvented gas space heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if oxygen levels fall too low.
* Do not use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined space, unless they are designed specifically for indoor use. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
* Never use gas or electric stoves to heat the home. They are not intended for that purpose and can pose a CO or fire hazard.

More information can be found in CPSC’s Safety Alert, Reducing Fire Hazards for Portable Electric Heaters (pdf)

Recall: White-Rodgers Home Heating and Cooling Thermostats Due to Fire Hazard

Name of Product: Programmable thermostats

Units: About 180,000 in the United States and 8,300 in Canada

Manufacturer: White-Rodgers of St. Louis, Mo.

Hazard: The programmable thermostats constantly charge the backup AA batteries used to power the thermostat’s clock. This can cause the batteries to leak, resulting in a fire hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm is aware of three incidents involving minor property damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves all White-Rodgers programmable thermostats with model numbers 1F88-XXX and 1F85RF-275 and date codes beginning with 05, 06, 07, 08, 09 and 1001 through 1039. The model number is printed on the thermostat’s front pull-down panel door. The date code is located inside the removable front cover. White-Rodgers and/or the utility company’s name and logo are printed on the front of the thermostat. These thermostats were able to be controlled by power companies in homes that took part in energy demand reduction programs.

Distributed by: More than 40 utility companies to consumers nationwide who took part in energy conservation programs and by various HVAC wholesalers for about $150.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately remove the two AA batteries from the thermostat and contact White-Rodgers for a free repair kit. If battery removal causes changes in furnace operation, contact White-Rodgers.

Consumer Contact:
For additional information, contact White-Rodgers toll-free at (888) 624-1901 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.regcen.com/Thermostat

Note: Health Canada’s press release is available at http://cpsr-rspc.hc-sc.gc.ca/PR-RP/recall-retrait-eng.jsp?re_id=1217

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx

Recall: Wal-Mart Recalls Electric Heaters Due to Fire and Burn Hazard

Name of Product: Flow Pro, Airtech, Aloha Breeze & Comfort Essentials Heaters

Units: About 2.2 million

Importer: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., of Bentonville, Arkansas

Hazard: The heaters can malfunction resulting in overheating, smoking, burning, melting and fire.

Incidents/Injuries: Wal-Mart has received 21 reports of incidents, which included 11 reports of property damage beyond the heater. Injuries were reported in four incidents, three of which required medical attention for minor burns and smoke inhalation. The remaining incidents included smoke irritation, sparking or property damage beyond the heater.

Description: This recall involves Flow Pro, Airtech, Aloha Breeze and Comfort Essentials 1500 watt heaters. The heaters are grey with a metal handle on the top with vents and grey control knobs on the front. The model number is 1013 and can be found on a label on the lower left corner of the back panel of the heater.

Sold Exclusively at: Walmart stores nationwide from December 2001 through October 2009 for about $18.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled heater and return the product to any Walmart store for a full refund.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Wal-Mart toll-free at (800) 925-6278 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at www.walmart.com

Space Heater Safety – Keep Your Loved Ones Safe

A portable electric heater can be a great convenience in cold weather, but if not used properly can be a fire or electric shock hazard. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has developed this helpful list of tips for safely using a portable electric heater. Take time to review the information in
this guide, as well as the use and care manual provided by the manufacturer.

These safety tips apply to all types of portable electric heaters.

    Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels before using your portable electric heater.
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    DO NOT leave operating heater unattended and always unplug heater when not in use.

    DO NOT use your heater with a power strip or extension cord. Overheating of a power strip or extension cord could result in a fire.

    String out cords on top of area rugs or carpeting. Placing anything, including furniture, on top of the cord may damage it.

    Keep combustible materials, such as furniture, pillows, bedding, papers, clothes and curtains at least three feet from the front of the heater and away from the sides and rear. DO NOT block heater’s air intake or exhaust source.

    Keep flammable materials away from the heater.

    Unless the heater is designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms, DO NOT use in damp or wet areas. Parts in the heater may be damaged by moisture.

    Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug does not fit snugly into the outlet or if the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced. Check with a qualified electrician to replace the outlet.

    Unplug the heater when not in use by pulling the plug straight out from the outlet. Inspect the heater’s cord periodically. DO NOT use a heater with a damaged cord.

    DO NOT plug any other electrical device into the same outlet as your heater. This could result in overheating.

    Heaters should be kept away from children and not be placed in a child’s room without supervision.

    Place heater on a level, flat surface. Only use heater on table tops when specified by the manufacturer. DO NOT place your heater on furniture. It could fall, dislodging or breaking parts in the heater.

GE’s Plans to Help You Manage Your Energy Use

GE Appliances & Lighting created the Home Energy Management (HEM) business, intending to be the first major appliance company to provide a whole-home solution for energy management.

When synchronized with the local utility company’s home smart-meter, coming into popular use, the HEM acts as the “central nervous system” for monitoring resource usage and controlling energy consumption within the home. The HEM, with the ability to collect data on multiple appliances, provides both real-time and long-term trend information on power and resource consumption and solar generation to the homeowners.

GE’s new Home Energy Manager (HEM) monitors all networked appliances which can include the refrigerator, range, dishwasher, washer and dryer, water heater, and will track all other home energy consumption including microwaves and televisions.

One of the primary goals of U.S. smart grid initiatives is to better use the energy production capacity the country already has. Home energy consumption efficiency can increase significantly when homeowners the option to participate in time-of-use pricing programs, which reward homeowners for lowering their consumption during periods of peak energy demand (usually 2-7 PM).

Simply providing consumers with energy consumption information motivates energy savings. A U.S. Department of Energy study showed that providing real-time pricing information to consumers via a smart meter helped reduce electricity costs 10% on average and 15% during peak periods.

“Knowing what is consuming electricity, and how much electricity that appliances are consuming, can be very empowering,” states Dave McCalpin, general manager of the new HEM business. “People will be able to make smarter choices if they have information. The once-a-month electrical bill provides no insight into your usage habits. We intend to change that.”

HEM’s design is targeted to include:

* Demand Response Integration, supporting communication standards Zigbee SEP 1.0, to enable demand response communication between a utility’s home smart meter and appliances on the home network, enabling real-time load shedding of networked appliances;
* Five-Day Weather Forecasts on Internet-enabled installations (communications supporting Ethernet, Wifi, and Zigbee SEP 1.0 standards);
* Electricity Usage Data Monitoring for the whole home for both short and long terms;
* Power Sub Metering for each GE demand response-enabled appliance;
* Solar Generation Monitoring of inverter output, including short- and long-term data where available;
* Water Usage Monitoring via household-wide data monitoring at 1-gallon resolution;
* Smart Thermostat Interface with full-featured seven-day programmable communicating thermostats that accepts demand response temperature offsets.

Recall: Meijer Oscillating Ceramic Heaters Due to Fire Hazard

Name of Product: Touch Point Oscillating Ceramic Heaters

Units: About 6,700

Importer: Meijer, of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Manufacturer: Ningbo Dongji Electronic Tech Co. LTC, of Ningbo, Dongki, China

Hazard: The oscillating mechanism in the heaters can short out, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Meijer has received two reports of incidents involving fires that resulted in property damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves Touch Point PTC oscillating ceramic heater with model number PTC-902 and serial numbers between 35005-43008. Model and serial numbers are located on a sticker on the bottom of the heater. The grey/silver colored heaters are about 10 inches tall and have a screen across the front.

Sold exclusively at: Meijer stores in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio from October 2009 through October 2010 for about $25.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled heaters and return them to the nearest Meijer retail store for a full refund of the purchase price.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Meijer toll-free at (866) 280-8419 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.meijer.com

EnergyStar Ratings – Can They be Trusted?

According to retailers, the Federal Appliance Rebate Program has increased appliance purchases nationwide.  The rebate is for energy efficient appliances which is great – only you might not be getting what that EnergyStar  label promises.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests that some Energy Star products aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Responding to a request for investigation from Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine), the GAO submitted 20 fictitious products between June 2009 and March 2010 for certification by Energy Star, a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Fifteen of the fakes–including a phony “room-air cleaner” that was little more than a space heater with a feather duster taped to it–received an Energy Star label.

Parade Magazine reports that in response, federal officials announced plans to strengthen the program. From now on, each application will be reviewed individually by an EPA staff member (as opposed to the automated approval process previously in place). By the end of the year, companies that want Energy Star certification for their products will be required to submit lab results from an independent testing agency rather than conduct their own evaluations.

Meanwhile, consumer advocates say we can still have faith in our Energy Star appliances: Most Energy Star brands on the market are about 10% more energy-efficient than their counterparts.

Sen. Collins applauds the reforms, calling them long overdue. “Energy Star wasn’t just slipping a bit,” she says. “It was in danger of falling off the quality cliff–putting taxpayers at risk of getting ripped off. Now that the EPA and DOE are moving to put more stringent oversight in place, I believe consumers will be better served and the integrity of the program will be restored.”