Choosing Your Heater: Oil, Electric or Gas?

It’s a good idea to start thinking about how you will heat the inside of your home before the winter chill sets in outside. There is a fantastic selection of heaters now available, each with their own benefits. Electric Heaters Electric heaters work by converting electrical energy into heat and are best suited to heating small to medium sized enclosed areas. The are several different types of electric heaters: • Radiant heaters consist of glowing elements and reflectors that radiate heat, providing quick heat to the nearby area. Unfortunately they are not very energy efficient and can ignite nearby objects. • Convection heaters warm a room by circulating air that has been heated by an element within the heater. They are safe to run, posing a low risk of causing a fire or contact burns. • Fan heaters are fan-forced convection heaters. They are great for quickly heating small areas but tend to be noisy and use a lot of power to run. • Column heaters – see section on oil heaters below. Oil Heaters Oil heaters are a type of electric heater. They are comprised of oil-filled steel columns with an electric heating element at the base that heats the oil. The heat transfers through the metal, circulating through the surrounding air. The oil takes a fair amount of time and energy to heat, but once heated it will stay warm for some time. Although unable to provide the amount of spatial heating a gas heater is capable of, oil heaters are a popular choice for bedrooms and smaller enclosed spaces. This is because they are safe to leave unattended and ideal for heating areas long periods, such as a bedroom overnight. Oil heaters are considered to be safer than electric fan heaters because they tend to have lower surface temperatures, reducing the risk of scalding. Most oil heaters also have a sensor that will cut power to the unit in the event it is knocked over or placed on an uneven surface. Gas Heaters Gas heaters are the most energy efficient type of space heater and are capable of quickly and effectively heating large areas. Portable, ducted and wall-mounted gas heaters are available. Although these types of heaters are ideally run from mains gas supply, those without a connection can still operate a unit using a gas cylinder. Anyone considering this option should ensure they have the correct fittings to connect their appliance to the cylinder. You will probably need to pay more for a gas heater than an electric one but it is cheaper to operate which will help you to save on energy costs in the long run. As with all appliances, when you are shopping for a gas heater, ensure you check the energy efficiency star ratings.

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