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Most electric heaters are relatively cheap to buy but expensive to run.
Electric heaters can be suitable for smaller rooms that get used occasionally or for short periods of time. Electric heaters are much safer and cheaper to run if you don't have other options (like in rental properties)
The heating capacity of electric plug-in heaters is typically no more than 2.4 kW. This means that in larger or poorly insulated rooms you may possibly need to run more than one heater. This can lead to problems with over-loading - some older homes will not allow you to run multiple high-drain devices from one power point.
All electric heaters (with the exception of heat-pumps) are equally efficient. They convert all the electricity they consume into useful heat - so don't believe claims that any one type of electric heater is more efficient than the other!
Choosing the right type of heater is important to get the full benefit of all of the heat you're paying for. Ask your heating supplier to advise you on the right type and size heater for your needs.
Bar heaters with glowing elements and a reflector are radiant heaters. They mainly heat objects and people rather than air in a room, and are commonly available as either free-standing, wall or high-wall mounted models.
Radiant heaters are good for rooms with high ceilings or rooms where you need to heat a small portion of a room. They are great for instant heat - like in a large bathroom on a wintery morning.
Radiant heaters can be a fire risk and are dangerous for small children. You can ensure their safety by having a high wall-mounted model installed out their reach and away from flammable materials.
Fan heaters can be noisy, but will distribute heated air around your room rather than letting it form a layer of hot air below the ceiling. They help to boost convection heaters to warm your room more quickly and provide quick warming in smaller rooms.
Convection heaters mostly heat air rather than surfaces. They heat the space from the ceiling down - so it takes longer to feel the temperature increase. They are good for medium-sized rooms that need heat for longer periods of time like living rooms or bedrooms. Convection heaters have a surface temperature lower than a radiant heater - so they are a slightly safer option if you have young children. Be aware that they can easily be tipped over so you need to fix them in place. The weight and sharp fins of oil column heaters can be dangerous to children too.
Flat-panel heaters are often promoted as ‘eco’ or cheap to run. However they produce very little heat - usually not enough to heat up a room to a comfortable temperature. The advantage is they don't get hot enough for children or pets to burn themselves. A higher wattage heater controlled by a thermostat is usually a better alternative to panel heaters - the thermostat can cycle the heater on and off so you can maintain a comfortable temperature without wasting energy.
Night store heaters
Night store heaters use cheaper off-peak electricity at night. Heat is stored in clay or ceramic bricks and slowly released during the day. They are more economical than common electric heaters if your house is occupied during the day - and if cheaper night-rate electricity tariff is available in your area.
Electric underfloor heating
Electric underfloor heating normally goes between your flooring and the floor covering. It‘s very important that your floor is well insulated otherwise some of the heat you pay for will be lost. Electric underfloor heating can heat large areas well, but can be expensive to run.
If your heater has a few different heat settings, somewhere on the heater it will often say the wattage of each setting. You need to know this to calculate the running costs. Using a thermostat on your heater helps maintain an even temperature and conserve electricity. Some electric heaters have a temperature dial so you’ll need to experiment to find the right thermostat setting. Most electric heater thermostats aren't very accurate - the heater itself often interferes with the temperature sensor, and you can end up with large temperature fluctuations. If the thermostat of your heater doesn't work very well consider using a separate plug-in thermostat that can be bought online. An electrician can install a separate hard-wired room thermostat. These are usually wall-mounted and are better at sensing the actual room temperature.
Guidelines for heating your space cost effectively below:
Tiny to small rooms (4-8sqm) - 500 to 1000W heater
Small rooms (10-13sqm) - 1500W heater
Medium (13-17sqm) - 2000W heater
Large (16-20sqm) - 2500W heater
Safety first! Risks associated with using electric heaters include electrocution, burns and fire. Always follow the manufacturers instructions.
Only heat the areas you're using.
Keep the heat in by shutting doors and curtains.
Set the thermostat for healthy indoor temperatures. World Health Organisation guidelines recommend at least 18˚C in any rooms you're using and at least 16˚C in bedrooms overnight.
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