Amidst a growing culture of environmental consciousness and rising power costs, energy efficiency is now just as important as price to anyone looking at purchasing new household appliances. This is especially true for those thinking about buying a new heater. So which type of heater is the cheapest to run and most energy efficient? If you want to know how much power and appliance uses, all you have to do is look at the product’s compliance plate. Every electrical appliance sold in Australia has one. It is a metallic sticker or plate attached to the body of the appliance that details information about the item, including how much power it uses. The compliance plate will state the number of watts or amps (A) the appliance uses. The higher the power rating number, the more power the heater will use regardless of whether it is a convection, column or radiator heater. Just as important as the running cost of a heater is how energy efficient it is. Many people confuse these issues as being one in the same when they are in fact two separate (albeit interrelated) matters. Energy efficiency refers to how the output of an appliance relates to the energy it consumes to achieve the task. Energy efficient products are those that use less energy to do the same or better job than a comparable product. When it comes to heaters, gas heaters are far more energy efficient and cheaper to run than their electric counterparts. The running cost of gas heaters is lower because gas is cheaper than electricity. Gas heaters are more energy efficient because they provide high heat output in relation to the energy used to generate that heat. Gas heaters can quickly, effectively and efficiently heat large and open-plan areas. In contrast, electrical heaters are only really effective at warming small to medium enclosed spaces. However, not every home has a gas connection so using an electric heater is the only option for many people. Even though electrical heaters are not as energy efficient as gas models, they can be used efficiently to make the most of the heat they provide and minimise running costs. You can do this by choosing the heater best suited to how and where you will be using it. • Radiant heaters contain glowing elements and reflectors that radiate heat to quickly heat objects immediately in front of them. However since they don’t warm the air, they are more effective at helping you warm up than heating entire rooms. • Convection heaters contain an element that warms and circulates air to heat a room. Since they take some time to heat a room, they are most effective when run over long periods within a contained area. • Oil-filled column heaters take time and energy to warm up, but once heated they will maintain their warmth for quite a while. This type of heater poses a low fire risk, making them ideal for operating in enclosed areas, unattended over long periods, such as in a bedroom overnight.