Oil-column heaters are found in many Kiwi homes, but they aren’t all created equal – some are downright rubbish.
The Anko HD904-11 bombed in our test. This Kmart model’s $59 price seems like a bargain, but this heater holds the dubious honour of being our worst-performing heater.
It took nearly an hour to heat our laboratory test room from 8°C to a (still cold) 13°C, a whole lot longer than a 2400W heater should. It does have a good thermostat that controls temperature quite well (when it eventually reaches your preferred setting) but we suspect that wait will be too long for most people. The next cheapest oil-column in our list comes in at around $100 but the extra cost is worth it as it has vastly superior performance.
Oil-columns don’t always fare particularly well in our testing (which rewards heaters that’ll warm your room in a jiffy). However, some do perform well enough to earn our recommendation. While none of them are particularly fast at heating, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a place in your home. They are well suited to bedrooms, as they provide a cosy background warmth that’ll help you get off to sleep on cold nights – you just need to remember to switch them on in time to get things cosy before bed. They have the added bonus of having no exposed elements, so they’re safer around small fingers, though be careful of falls into the fins as that will cause a few tears.
These fixed-heating options are efficient but come with sizable installation costs that are beyond the reach of many homeowners and tenants. So electric heaters remain a good option, especially in bedrooms, studies or rumpus rooms that aren’t too cavernous. Our testing has found some top-notch heaters you can pick up for less than $50.
A cheap way to keep you warm in the lounge or bedroom is an electric blanket or heated throw. Rather than trying to heat the room, these just keep you feeling toasty and only cost a few dollars to run per year.
Once you’ve generated the heat, your home will work as hard as it can do get rid of it. Stop this from happening by loading up on insulation, blocking draught-causing gaps and make sure your curtains are in order. Our testing found honeycomb blinds work best but there are a few cheap hacks you can try at home that’ll help you save money in the long run.