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Heating

What type of heater suits you best?

How you use the rooms that you want to heat often determines the types of heater that you should be considering.

For rooms that you use regularly it is well worth investing in suitable, fixed heaters which enable you to heat them effectively and cheaply. Clean, effective forms of heating include modern wood and wood-pellet burners, ENERGY STAR® qualified heat pumps and high star-rated, flued gas heaters.

For rooms that only get used occasionally, for short periods of time, electric heaters which are cheap to buy but slightly more expensive to run can often be sufficient. There are different types to suit different needs.

Comparing the options

Heat pumps

Good for: Be aware that:
  • low running costs when used properly
  • producing instant heat
  • convenience - you can control the temperature and timing with the thermostat and timer controls.
  • they must be sized correctly - for the space and the climate - to work well (if you live in a colder area, ask the supplier to size the heat pump based on its "H2" performance)
  • some are a lot more efficient than others - look for the ENERGY STAR® mark to show you the most efficient model
  • they won't work during a power cut.

>> Read more about heat pumps

Modern woodburners

Good for: Be aware that:
  • low running costs, especially if you have access to free or cheap firewood
  • the environment - they produce very little pollution and use renewable wood energy as a fuel
  • heating large spaces
  • heating hot water in winter through a wetback system.
  • firewood must be dry to burn most efficiently so you need to plan ahead and store it undercover, ideally for at least 12 months
  • building consent approval for installation is needed and, unless your property is larger than two hectares, you need to use a woodburner on the Ministry for the Environment's list of approved wood burners.

>> Read more about wood burners

Wood pellet burners

Good for: Be aware that:
  • the environment - the pellets are made from waste products and burn very cleanly
  • heat control (better than a wood burner)
  • heating large spaces
  • heating hot water in winter through a wetback system.
  • they won't work if your electricity isn't working (they use a small amount of electricity)
  • building consent is needed for installation
  • in areas with air quality issues only authorised burners can be installed - see the Ministry for the Environment's list of approved wood pellet burners.

>> Read more about wood pellet burners

Flued gas (natural or LPG) heaters or fireplaces

Good for: Be aware that
  • convenience - you can control the temperature and timing with the thermostat and timer controls
  • heating larger areas for longer periods.
  • you may have to pay a fixed charge for reticulated gas supply
  • EECA recommends choosing  an ENERGY STAR qualified model. View a list of ENERGY STAR qualified products
  • gas heaters must always be installed by a registered gas fitter.

>> Read more about flued gas heaters

Electric heaters

Good for: Be aware that:
  • heating a small room infrequently and for short periods only
  • very cheap to buy.
  • they are more expensive to run than most other heating options
  • there are different types but they all have the same efficiency (i.e. the same amount of heat output per unit of electricity used)
  • there are different types (e.g. radiant, convection, fan) that deliver heat in different ways
  • many have built-in thermostats, but generally they aren't very accurate.

>> Read more about electric heaters

Central heating

Good for: Be aware that:
  • providing whole-of-house heating
  • convenience - you can control the temperature and timing with the thermostat and timer controls
  • zoning - many are zone-controlled so you can control the temperature in different parts of the home.
  • heat can be supplied by a gas or wood pellet heating system, or a heat pump - see information on these different forms of heating above
  • it is worth choosing a system that has an individual thermostat for each room
  • can be very expensive to run if your house isn't well insulated, or is draughty.

Unflued gas (natural or LPG)

Good for: Be aware that:
  • back-up heating during power cuts, if your normal heating relies on electricity to operate.
  • unflued LPG heaters are the most expensive form of heating (except for some open fires)
  • there are health risks - it will pollute air with toxic gases and large amounts of water vapour, so you must keep at least one window open when it is in use and never use it in bedrooms
  • they can make your home damp.
  • portable LPG heaters can be a fire risk, as anything too close can catch fire quickly.

>> Read more about unflued gas heaters

Related tools:

Link to the heater sizing toolHeater sizing calculator

This calculator helps you work out what size heater you need for different rooms in your house.

Use this tool now »