Heating your home

When choosing heating for your home, consider the amount of heating you need, upfront and running costs and environmental impacts of the different options.

Healthy temperatures

The World Health Organisation and New Zealand’s Ministry of Health recommend these temperatures in your house:

  • a minimum of 18˚C during the day, or a minimum of 20˚C for more vulnerable groups like children, the elderly and people who are ill
  • a minimum of 16˚C in your bedroom overnight.

Insulate first

Before looking at heating options, sort out your insulation - you'll be able to use a smaller heating system and your home will be cheaper and easier to heat.

 Insulation

Heater type

For larger rooms that you want to heat regularly, like a living room, it’s worth paying a bit more upfront for a fixed heater with lower running costs and more heat output than a small electric heater can provide. This could be a modern wood or wood-pellet burner, an ENERGY STAR qualified heat pump, or an ENERGY STAR qualified flued gas heater.

Electric heaters may be enough for smaller rooms and rooms you only heat occasionally, like bedrooms. Avoid unflued gas heaters (with pipes fixed to the walls or portable) which release toxic fumes and moisture, and open fires which are draughty and inefficient.

 Types of heater

Heater size

Match the size of your heater to the space you want to heat. An oversized or undersized heater will struggle to heat your room effectively, and can cost more to run. Ask your heating supplier for advice about what size heater will suit your needs.

Running costs

Running costs can vary a lot depending on your fuel price and how well you use and maintain your heating appliance.

Home heating running costs

 

Home heating running costs chart

The lower end of the running cost ranges represents the highest efficiency heaters and lowest fuel prices, and no fixed charges attributed to space heating. The higher end of the running cost ranges represents low efficiency heaters, high fuel prices and fixed charges fully attributed to space heating (for natural gas and LPG (45kg bottles) only).

Based on typical highest and lowest heater efficiencies for new heaters, and typical highest and lowest fuel prices. Flued gas heaters with a star rating of less than 4 stars  and older heat pumps, woodburners and gas heaters may have lower efficiencies, resulting in higher running costs. For unflued gas heaters 30% of the heat produced is assumed to be lost due to the need to leave a window open. Purchase, installation and maintenance costs are not included.

Fuel cost assumptions:
Electricity 19-40c/kWh; firewood $50-150/m3; wood pellets 55-93 c/kg; natural gas 5.4-11.2 c/kWh variable price; LPG (45kg bottles) $92-110 per refill; LPG (9kg bottle) $27-42 per refill.

Consideration of fixed charges:
No fixed charges have been included for electricity, firewood, wood pellets and LPG (9kg bottle).

For natural gas and LPG (45kg) fixed charges have only been included for the higher end of the running cost ranges, assuming a total annual gas consumption of 3,000 kWh, fixed charges of up to $1.45/day for natural gas and up to $115 annual bottle rental charge for LPG (45kg bottles). This represents households where gas is only used for space heating. For the lower end of the running cost ranges, no fixed charges have been included, representing situations where gas is also used for other purposes than just space heating.

Environmental impacts

To minimise the environmental impacts of your heater:

  • choose a heating option that uses renewable energy, like wood, wood pellets or electricity (which is about 80% renewable on average)
  • choose the most efficient model for the job
  • use and maintain your heater properly.

Winter heating guide - Consumer NZ website