Which heater is best for your home?
A guide to the pros and cons of the most common home heaters on the market.
After a winter marked by several “coldest” and “wettest” milestones – not to mention the recent icy blast brought by the so-called “Antarctic blob” extreme low-pressure system – having good, reliable, energy-efficient heating has never seemed more important. Even more so if you factor in the extra cost of all-day heating for home workers and remote learners.
If you’re renovating or building a new home, or simply in the market for a new heater, there are myriad home-heating options to choose from. The best choice for you will depend on your budget, the size of the space you want to heat, how you use your home, decor and personal preference.
But regardless of the type of heating, it’s worth doing all you can to keep the heat in – especially as heating and cooling account for around 40 per cent of the average household’s energy consumption. So to avoid having your heating working overtime, make sure your door and window seals are up to scratch, consider investing in double glazing on windows, and draw the curtains and blinds at night. And dress appropriately for the weather – wearing a T-shirt and thongs in the middle of winter is a surefire way to overcook your heating bills.
Here’s a run-down of the most common heating options on the market.
How to choose the best heater for your home
Ducted gas heating
Also known as central heating, this is the big gun of home-heating options. A heating unit is installed either underfloor or in your roof with ducts placed in each room, either in the floor or ceiling.
This type of system is a big investment, costing from about $7000 to set up, but its advantage is that it will work to heat the entire house at once and maintain a set temperature. Of course, this can also be a downside as you may be heating rooms you’re not using. Some systems can be zoned, which means you can shut off vents to rooms when they’re not in use and cut the running costs.
Sustainability Victoria estimates it costs about $1250 annually to heat a medium 160-square-metre Melbourne house with a three-star energy-rated gas ducted heating system, while a six-star system costs $950 annually. (These estimates are a guide only, as some areas of the state will be warmer or colder than the average and energy costs vary).
Best for: Heating a whole house to a constant temperature.
A reliable, cost-effective and efficient way to heat individual rooms, portable oil heaters come in various sizes, with prices from $120 for a basic 1500W model up to $300 for a 2400W model with timer and thermal cut-off.
Oil-filled space heaters pull in cooler air, which is warmed by a heating element at the base. The warm air rises and radiates through the top, warming a room in around 15 minutes. They produce an even source of gentle, radiant heat, are quiet and will continue to warm a room for up to 30 minutes after they have been turned off.
They also use less power than electric heaters, with a 1700W model costing about 50 cents per hour. Oil heaters don’t actually burn oil, so have a very low carbon footprint. Of course, some bigger oil heaters can be quite heavy, so make sure you get one with decent castor wheels if you want to move it from room to room.
When it comes to choosing a portable heater, oil heaters are a more energy-efficient choice than electric fan heaters, which can be inexpensive to buy but expensive to run.
Best for: Heating small areas that can be closed off, and for people with breathing ailments or who suffer from dry eyes or skin rashes.