Keeping the chill at bay
As winter sets in and the mercury drops we spend more of our evenings warding off the cold at home. By choosing energy efficient methods of heating your house, you can have a warm, cosy home without it costing you the earth.
All heat is expensive if it just goes straight through the roof, so insulating is the first step to make sure your house will hold the heat. Next, make sure that cracks and gaps are sealed up to prevent draughts and hang heavy, thermal lined curtains over windows. And get onto any moisture problems; fix under floor dampness and leaks, install external venting in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries and air the house regularly to help prevent mould problems.
Once your home is at its heat-holding best, start thinking about which energy efficient heat source you want.
Large living spaces can be kept warm with heat pumps, flued gas fireplaces, wood pellet burners and log burners. Smaller spaces and areas of the house only used occasionally benefit from portable electric heaters.
Heat pumps provide fast, convenient and easily controlled heat. Energy Star rated models typically give three or more times the heat value of every dollar you spend on electricity compared to electric resistive heaters, so they’re energy efficient and provide lower heating costs.
Gas heating offers instant heat that’s easy to control. Energy Star rated flued gas heaters are the most efficient and won’t release harmful gases and moisture into your home. Avoid portable gas heaters, as these are the most expensive heat source. They also release moisture and noxious gasses into your home.
Wood pellet burners
Wood pellet burners look similar to conventional wood burners, but they offer a
lot more convenience and control over how much heat is produced and when. The density and moisture level of wood pellets means more consistent burning and lower emissions than logs.
Log burners are a great and economical option, especially if you’ve got access to free or cheap firewood, and modern burners can burn very cleanly provided the wood is dry. Burning dry wood in a clean burning wood burner is also carbon neutral.
Portable electric heaters are good for heating small, specific spaces like bedrooms and studies. All electric heaters, whether radiant, fan, or convection, are equally efficient – that is, they convert all the electricity they consume into heat.
Convection heaters (like oil column heaters) heat rooms quickly and provide good background warmth. Fan heaters blast out warm air and move it around to evenly heat a room and the glowing, directional heat from radiant heaters warms up whatever is in front of it almost instantly.
Look for electric heater models with thermostats and timers to help you control how much heat you use.