With the cooler weather on its way, you’ll want a warm and toasty house to come home to. Your first stop: heating – consider the form of heating that’s best suited to each room. The names of different types of electric heaters can be confusing, but they generally fall into the following categories.
Often small and easily portable, they warm up quickly and pump air over a heated element in the direction they’re pointed in. They’re best suited to small rooms and can be a cheaper option, especially for the most basic models. Choice tester Chris Barnes says the ones at the bottom end of the market had safety issues in the past, with low standards of construction leading to a high risk of over-heating, melting and catching fire. The government has raised minimum standards, however, so newer models are much safer. They can also come in the form of swivelling tower heaters, which spread the heat out over a wider arc.
These are mostly upright oil heaters, with some newer models looking the same but containing no oil. “Column heaters tend to be reasonably cool to the touch, so they’re good when you have small kids around,” says Chris. The downside is that they can be slow to heat up unless they come with a fan, so are not the best choice for when you want instant heat.They can be effective for overall heat, though.
These are mostly upright oil heaters, with some newer models looking the same but containing no oil. “Column heaters tend to be reasonably cool to the touch, so they’re good when you have small kids around,” says Chris.The downside is that they can be slow to heat up unless they come with a fan, so are not the best choice for when you want instant heat. They can be effective for overall heat, though.
These contain an element within the body of the unit, with the heat generated warming the air around them and eventually the rest of the room. Fan-assisted models heat rooms more quickly and are generally a good option for larger areas. “You don’t get that direct blast of a radiant heater, but convection heaters are a good way heat a whole room,” says Chris.They can be wheel-mounted for portability or come in the form of wall-mounted panel heaters.
These are the gold standard in electric heating – but only if you can stretch to permanently installed split-system units. “A split system is the ultimate option, especially if you live somewhere you need heating most days in winter. It uses a lot of energy, but it does so much more efficiently than a portable air-conditioner or other forms of electric heating,” says Chris. “Obviously it may be overkill for people in parts of the country where winter is mild, and it wouldn’t be suitable for renters.”
Use Choice’s online heating calculator to work out what capacity heater you need for your room.
Pictured Energy Saver 309FT Power-flued gas space heater, Rinnai