ENERGYWISE top tips for choosing heaters

EECA ENERGYWISE says how you use a room will help you to decide the type of heater that’s most suitable. 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.

For more information: www.energywise.govt.nz

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 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:

  • unless you get an optional battery backup, 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
  • you need a building consent to install one
  • only authorised burners can be used in areas with poor air quality
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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.

Media enquiries:

Penny St John, Senior Communication Adviser, EECA

Phone: 027 687 3123

Email: penny.stjohn@eeca.govt.nz