Top tips for choosing your heaters

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.

Decisions, decisions: It’s never too early to begin thinking about your heating
options before winter sets in.

Technical expert Christian Hoerning says that for larger rooms you want to heat regularly,
like a living room, it’s worth paying a bit more upfront for a fixed heater with lower running costs and more heat output than an electric heater can provide.

“This could be a modern wood or wood-pellet burner, an Energy Star qualified heat pump, or an Energy Star qualified flued gas heater. Electric heaters may be enough for smaller rooms and rooms you only heat occasionally, like bedrooms – they’re cheap to buy but more expensive to run,” he says.

Heat pumps
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:
They 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
performance
Some are a lot more efficient than others.
They won’t work during a power cut.

Modern Woodburners
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 under cover, ideally for at least 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.

Electric heaters
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.

Central heating
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.

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 – these heaters will pollute your home with toxic gases and large amounts of water vapour so you must keep at least one window open when heating and never use in bedrooms
They can make your home damp and mouldy
Portable gas heaters can be a fire risk – anything left too close can catch fire.

For more information: www.energywise.govt.nz

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