Electric Heaters - How To Choose The Right Option - 27/07/2016

When it comes to heating your home in winter, there are so many options that it can be confusing choosing one that’s best for you. Knowing more about the kinds of heating options that are available is the best place to start when searching for home heating options. All kinds of heating options have different positives and negatives, and it could be that the best one for your home and lifestyle is different from someone else’s. If other things like energy and cost efficiency are important to you, then it’s an even better idea to do some research before investing in heating options for your home.

Optimum temperature for your house

Nobody likes the cold, but it can be uncomfortable when a house is stiflingly hot as well. Getting it right can be difficult but it helps to know what the optimum temperature for your house is. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and New Zealand’s Ministry of Health recommend that during the day, the rooms in your house should sit at 18 degrees celsius, or 20 degrees celsius for children, the elderly or those who are ill. At night, your bedroom should be at a minimum of 16 degrees celsius. It doesn’t take a thermometer to realise that your house is below those temperatures. If it’s a cold day and things aren’t much better inside, your house temperatures could be sitting too low. However, while guessing that it’s cold is easy, using a thermostat in your home is the best way to know whether your heating system is adequate or not. Store it away from the heater for an accurate reading, as if it’s too close it can interfere with the temperature gauge.

Types of heaters

A major consideration when choosing the best heating for you home, is the level of insulation in your house. If your home is not well insulated then it may be best to choose a few key rooms to heat. This can make a difference as to what the most efficient heater option for your house is. There are four main types of heater available, with varying capabilities. These are 

  • Convection
  • Portable Fan Heaters
  • Radiant and Panel Heaters
  • Heat Pumps

Convection heaters heat air rather than surfaces - they use the air circulation in a room to continuously circulate heat. The most common kind of convection heaters in New Zealand are column heaters. These are often filled with oil or another liquid that holds the heat while another element, like metal, distributes that heat into the air. These work best in rooms that are sealed off, and can be an efficient for heating individual spaces as opposed to an entire house.

Portable fan heaters, or ceramic heaters, operate by heating a ceramic element whilst a fan distributes the heat. They can be noisy, but provide warmth more quickly than a convection heater. They are good for small rooms and for those times when you want heat fast like when you’re getting ready in the morning. They heat a relatively small space so they’re not the best for larger rooms or for continuous heating as they are often not equipped with a thermostat or timer functions which decrease their efficiency.

Radiant and panel heaters can be very efficient as a method of heating rooms. A radiant heater has glowing elements inside with a reflector that distribute the heat. They heat objects and people rather than the air in a room and are often wall-mounted or free standing. Panel heaters function similarly, except the glowing elements are hidden inside or behind a stone or ceramic panel. Panel heaters provide heat at a more even and lower temperature, so are a good eco-friendly choice. It could be expensive to heat your entire home with these kinds of heaters, but they’re great for individual rooms that you want to heat quickly.

Heat pumps are an excellent way to provide warmth all over the home. You can target specific areas in the home for warmth, or heat the entire space. Because each house size is different, your HRV specialist will size the heat pump according to the space so that you’re getting the best and most efficient fit. Heat pumps produce instant heat, and with a built in thermostat, you can control the temperature efficiently. Most heat pumps also have timers, so you can set it to turn on just before you get home or get up in the morning. Plus, if you forget that it’s on, it shuts off automatically after 10 hours. 

Night-storage heaters are permanently installed convection heaters. They use off-peak night-rate electricity and store the heat for slow release during the day, being extra cost efficient.

Choosing the best heating type for you

Large spaces where you spend a lot of time like the living room space, which in modern architecture is often open planned, are best for heat pump and panel heaters. The frequency at which you heat certain parts of the house though can have a different impact on how much you spend on power. If you find yourself heating more rooms than just one, there could be more efficient methods of heating that you could consider. Choose a heater by calculating the size of your house, you can figure out the best option for your home. A quick way of working this out is to allow 44 watts per cubic metre of room volume. Add another 10 percent if there’s a large window area in the room, and another 10 to 20 percent for partial or no insulation. For lounge rooms, multiply this number by 1.5, and if it’s a bedroom, multiply it by 1.2. For all other areas in the house, multiply by 0.8. The result you have is the size of the heater you’ll need to efficiently heat the room. For instance, a well-insulated bedroom 3m x 4m x 2.4m high has a volume of 28.8 cubic metres. Multiply by 44 to get 1267 watts, and again by 1.2 to get 1520 watts (1.5kW).

What are the costs of running electric heaters?

Compared to gas heaters and wood burners, electric heating systems can be an efficient method of heating your home. Thermostats will help you use your electric heating system more efficiently, as well as using timers and fans to help distribute air more quickly. Electric heaters are safer and cheaper to run than LPG heaters and open fires. The heating capacity of an electric plug-in heater is usually no more than 2.4kW. Based on the figure you’ve come up with on the heating calculator, this should indicate whether or not you’ll need more than one heater to efficiently heat up a space, or whether you should look to a heat pump system.

Woodburners can be an efficient method of heating a house as you don’t have to pay for electricity. Firewood can be expensive though, and is usually bought in a lump sum, so keep this in mind. If you don’t already have a woodburner, installation can be expensive and you need building consent to do so.

Gas heating can be cost efficient depending on what kind of heater you have. For a flued gas heater or fireplace, you’ll probably be paying a fixed rate for gas supply. Unflued gas heaters are some of the most expensive heaters to run and can be a health risk. Because they leak vapour into the air, it’s important to open a window when using an unflued gas heater. They can also make your home damp, and are a hazard as anything too close can quickly catch fire.

Installing a heat pump can require some upfront costs but you make those costs back in the long term through savings in your energy bill. Like other electric heaters, they are an efficient way of heating the home, and you get more bang for your buck. All electric heatershave their benefits, so the most important thing is that you work out what fits your home and lifestyle best.

Home heating and ventilation

Electric heating is an excellent method of heating New Zealand homes. It offers warmth and efficiency if you’ve got the right kind for your home. If you already have a strong heat source in your home, like a fire place, another method of efficiently heating your home and diffusing the heat evenly, is by installing a heat transfer system. Heat Transfer makes the most of your existing heat sources and spreads their warmth throughout. If you have a powerful heat source like a fireplace, the heat transfer system will make heating more efficient, balancing the overall temperature around the home. They are easy to install and operate quietly, and work great in conjunction with HRV home ventilations system which create a drier, healthier and more efficient home environment to heat.

By taking the time to consider what heating option is best for you, you could be experiencing year round warmth without breaking the bank. Winter doesn’t have to be freezing and uncomfortable, enjoy it with HRV.


Get In Touch With HRV

Considering an HRV Electric Heating System as the perfect solution to keep your home comfortable year round?

Request a Free Home Assessment from a trained HRV technician today.

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Try our online Home Solutions Generator now, it only takes 3 minutes and once completed we’ll give you some immediate advice on the right products for your home along with approximate costs.


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