Don't fall for that Amish heater if you want to save money

It's easy to get suckered into buying something from the Amish. They make great quilts, everything is made by hand, and their pies are to die for. No doubt they're great farmers and know their way around a workbench.

Their latest item up for sale on infomercials and in newspaper ads around the country, -- the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow Fireplace -- is an electric heater from China wrapped in an expensive wooden mantle that the Amish make. It sells for about $300, according to a New York Times story.

A small space heater costs about $30 -- considerably less, although it doesn't include the warm feel and look of what ads describe as the "miracle invention" of the Amish. Here's one of the commercials:

The commercials have inspired spoofs on YouTube, and have critics wondering if an Amish space heater is an oxymoron.

While a woman named Cindy wrote that she likes "the way the flame relaxes me," according to the Times, another woman, Darlene Swick, is quoted as disputing claims that the Roll-n-Glow heater could lower home energy costs."

My husband and I purchased two of these Heat Surge fireplaces and we have seen NO savings on our electric bill. We turned our thermostat down to 68 degrees for the month, and our electric bill went up," Swick said.

No wonder. Keeping an electric heater on for a few hours is expensive because electric heat costs up to two and a half times more than natural gas or heating oil. Consumer Reports says that space heaters can save you money if only used to heat one area and the heat is turned off in the rest of the house.

If you want to save money and still stay warm by supporting the Amish, then don't buy their heater. Go for a quilt.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at

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