Heating options for your home
Choosing a heater can be confusing, with a multitude of choices and offers to consumers. EECA Energywise says how you use a room will help you to decide the type of heater that's most suitable
Good for: low running costs when you use them properly; producing instant heat; convenience— you can control the temperature with the thermostat and use the timer.
Be aware that: must be sized correctly for the space and the climate to work well— if you live in a colder area, ask the supplier to size the heat pump based on its low temperature performanc; some are a lot more efficient than others; they won’t work during a power cut.
Good for: low running costs, especially if you have access to free or cheap firewood; the environment— they produce very little pollution and use renewable wood energy; heating large spaces; heating hot water in winter through a wetback system.
Be aware that: firewood must be dry to burn efficiently— store wood undercover, ideally for at last 12 months; you need a building consent to install one and you need to use a woodburner on the approved list from the Ministry for the Environment (unless your property is bigger than two hectares).
Wood pellet burners
Good for: the environment— the pellets are made from waste products and burn cleanly; heat control (better than a wood burner); heating large spaces; heating hot water in winter through a wetback system.
Be aware that: they won’t work if your electricity isn’t working (they use a small amount of electricity; you cannot burn firewood in a pellet burner; pellet prices vary greatly across the country— check prices in your area; you need a building consent to install one; only authorised burners can be used in areas with poor air quality.
Flued gas (natural or lpg) heaters or fireplaces
Good for: convenience— you can control the temperature with the thermostat and use the timer; heating larger spaces.
Be aware that: you will have to pay a fixed price for reticulated gas supply; running costs are relatively high if you use LPG bottles; while burning gas is relatively clean, the greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change; you must have your gas heater installed by a registered gas fitter.
Good for: heating smaller spaces like bedrooms; very cheap to buy.
Be aware that: they are more expensive to run than most other heating options; their heat output is low compared to most other heater types; all electric heaters are equally efficient as they convert all the electricity they use into useful heat; there are different types (radiant, convection, fan) that deliver heat in different ways to suit different situations; many have built in thermostats but they generally aren’t very accurate.
Unflued gas (natural or lpg) heaters, including portable gas heaters
Good for: back-up heating during power cuts, if your normal heating relies on electricity to operate.
Be aware that: portable gas heaters are the most expensive form of heating (except for some open fires); there are health risks — they will pollute your home with toxic gases and water vapour so keep at least one window open and never use in bedrooms; they can make your home damp and mouldy; portable gas heaters can be a fire risk.
Good for: providing heating for your entire house; convenience— you can control the temperature with the thermostat and use the timer; zoning— many are zone-controlled so you can control the temperature in different parts of the house.
Be aware that: they can be expensive to install; heat can be supplied by a range of heating systems, for example gas, wood pellet or heat pump; it’s worth choosing a system that has an individual thermostat for each room; they can be expensive to run if you home isn’t well insulated or is draughty.