Before even considering what heater type, consider insulation, draught-proofing, and curtains and blinds.

Let us look at how different heaters perform, because not all heaters are equal.

As you consider heating your house you will find that there are many options available

There are some questions that you should ask yourself before choosing what type of heater – you might find that you simplify the process even before you begin.

Some questions to consider

Desired heating outcome
Do you want to heat the whole house or do you want to heat only the parts you use? Do you want the house to be an even temperature, or do you want the living room to be thirty degrees and hope that the heat will spread? Do you also need cooling for the summer months?

What sort of system can you afford to install? What sort of system can you afford to operate? If you are unable to get the whole house heated with one single system, what other solution fits your budget?

Do you have the time and inclination to chop wood and wait for a wood-burner? Or wait for it to reach operating -temperature? Do you need to heat the kitchen and dining area in the morning? Do you need effortless heating that runs all day? Do you want a heating system that you can operate via wi-fi – to have the house warm when you get home? Do you want a heater that responds quickly – or can you wait? Do you need the heat to be in the lower part of the room because you have young ones?

House style and layout
Not all types of heater are appropriate for all types of house – what type of heater will you’re your house? Do you have a high ceiling stud, where convection heat might be rapidly and irretrievably lost? Will the proposed heater be able to compensate for large windows or open plan living? Will the system have to transport heat along great lengths of house, or will spot heating be a better option?

Available energy resources
Most houses have electricity and many have gas – but not all! Perhaps you have access to firewood, or fuel pellets. Do you have a cheap night rate available with your electricity account? Do you have extra daytime energy available from solar power that could be used for heating?

Type of system desired
Do you want central heating – or will a single heater be enough? Or will a mixture of appliances be adequate? It might be that you don’t want a heater that relies on blown-air? Maybe you want to avoid the burning of combustible materials? Maybe you prefer a system that is silent and has no moving parts?

Different types of heater have different characteristics, and sometimes those characteristics will be a better ‘fit’ with you, your house and your lifestyle.

Energy cost and Efficiency

Efficiency is the rate at which energetic input is converted into heat output. Very important as far as heater performance goes – but not absolute. Also in dollar and cents terms the cost per kW heat / kW/h of energy.

How the heat is delivered
Convection vs radiant vs conduction. This can be as important or more important than actual efficiency of heaters.

How the heat is controlled
 Efficiencies can gained by effective control. Some devices now have wireless controllers.

What type of heater for what type of space
How different situations require different types of heaters for best results.

Common misconceptions/ disasters

  • Expecting a small panel heater to heat the whole house
  • Column heater in high stud room
  • Small panel heaters on external wall
  • Small panel heaters in a large room
  • Undersized heat-pump
  • Unflued gas heaters of any type
  • Heat doesn’t spread from source
  • Heat rising too quickly


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