Tips From Our Experts

Patsy asks: Could you please let me know which is the warmest and most economical heater? Also which ones aren’t warm? Our expert answers with some interesting tips on choosing a heater.

Economical Heaters

Patsy asks

Could you please let me know which is the best heater for warmth? That is, the most economical and the warmest? Also, which ones don’t work well?

Thank you.

Our expert’s answer

Thanks for your question.

These days the most efficient heater is actually a reverse cycle air-conditioner (or heat pump)!

When a heat pump is used for heating, it employs the same basic refrigeration-type cycle used by an air-conditioner or a refrigerator but in the opposite direction, releasing heat into the conditioned space rather than the surrounding environment. Heat pumps generally draw heat from the cooler external air – by doing so, the external air gets a bit cooler to compensate. Look for a Co-efficient of Performance/Energy Efficiency Rating (CoP/EER) of at least 4.5 – this means for every 1kW of power put in you get at least 4.5kW of heating/cooling out. By comparison, a 1kW bar radiator provides exactly 1kW of heating.

Be aware that, when you buy a reverse cycle air-conditioner, there is a fairly substantial installation cost involved. (You can’t just take them home and plug them in.) This can sometimes be over half as much as the price of the unit itself.

As for what is the warmest heater – this would be the one that provides the amount of heat you need, when you need it. Any heater is capable of providing heat and it is important to size the heater for the room being heated. Preferably, zone your home so that you only heat those areas in use. For this reason, you may like to consider multiple heat pumps.

Being run by electricity, heat pumps also have the potential to be a 100% carbon-free heat source provided you buy 100% GreenPower. With a CoP/EER of 4.5, a heat pump has a lower GreenHouse Gas intensity than even a gas heater, which has historically been the fuel of choice for heating. Be aware also that it is expected that gas prices will rise considerably in the years to come.

For more information about efficient heating and cooling devices, see the 17 Things™.

John Knox

John Knox

The technical advice provided by the Alternative Technology Association as part of the ‘Ask an Expert’ forum/website, in relation to home and building sustainability improvements, is general in nature only. The impacts of specific energy or water saving or sustainability products will depend on how and where the are used and located, and particularly for larger investments, we would always suggest users seek a specific assessment from an appropriately qualified building designer or service / product supplier.

Comments are closed.