Types of heater

How you use a room will help you to decide the type of heater that’s most suitable. For rooms you use regularly, it’s well worth investing in suitable fixed heaters that mean you can heat the room more effectively and cheaply. If you don’t use the room often, an electric heater may be enough - they’re cheap to buy but slightly more expensive to run than fixed heaters.

Heat pumps

Good for:

Be aware that:

  • low running costs (when you use them properly)
  • producing instant heat
  • convenience - you can control the temperature with the thermostat and use the timer.
  •  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 low temperature performance)
  • some are a lot more efficient than others - look for the ENERGY STAR® qualified models
  • they won't work during a power cut.

 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
  • heating large spaces
  • heating hot water in winter through a wetback system.
  • firewood must be dry to burn efficiently, so you need to plan ahead and store it undercover, ideally for at least 12 months
  • you need a building consent to install one and - unless your property is larger than two hectares - you need to use a woodburner on the approved list from the Ministry for the Environment
Ministry for the Environment's list of approved wood burners

 Modern woodburners

Wood pellet burners

Good for:

Be aware that:

  • the environment - the pellets are made from waste products and burn 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)
  • you need a building consent to install one
  • only authorised burners can be used in areas with poor air quality

 Wood pellet burners

Flued gas (natural or LPG) heaters or fireplaces

Good for:

Be aware that:

  • convenience - you can control the temperature with the thermostat and use the timer
  • heating larger areas for longer periods.
  • If you don’t already, you will probably have to pay a fixed charge for reticulated gas supply
  • you must have your gas heater installed by a registered gas fitter.

 Gas heating

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 (radiant, convection, fan) that deliver heat in various ways
  • the different types all have the same efficiency (the same amount of heat output per unit of electricity used)
  • many have built-in thermostats, but generally they aren't very accurate.

 Electric heating

Central heating

Good for:

Be aware that:

  • providing heating for your entire house
  • convenience - you can control the temperature with the thermostat and use the timer
  • zoning - many are zone-controlled so you can control the temperature in different parts of the home.

 

  • Can be expensive to install
  • heat can be supplied by a range of heating systems for example gas,wood pellet, hot water heat pump
  • it’s 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’s in use and never use in bedrooms
  • they can make your home damp
  • portable LPG heaters can be a fire risk, as anything too close can quickly catch alight.