We probably don’t need to tell you that heating is key to a healthy home. It can be hard to do as a renter, so here are a few tips and tricks.
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A third of the energy supplied to your home in winter will be used for space heating, with another third going on water heating. We found heat pumps were the cheapest space heaters to run, but a lot of rentals don’t have them.
Unflued LPG gas heaters were the most expensive. They’re also a health and safety hazard, as they fill the air with moisture and produce carbon monoxide. We think they should never be used indoors.
GUIDE TO THE FIGURES COSTS are for providing one kilowatt of heat for one hour. Bars represent range between maximum and minimum costs. Black dotted line represents the national median. Electricity and natural gas costs are from powerswitch.org.nz based on April 2018 data. Other costs are from pricing data collected during April 2018. GST is included.
If the home you’re renting doesn’t have a heat pump, or if you’re after a heating option for bedrooms, look at an electric heater.
Your first step should be figuring out what size heater you need for the room. All electric heaters with the same power output (eg. 1000W or 2000W) cost about the same to run, but how evenly and quickly they heat a room will vary. This means choosing the right type of heater can cut down your power bill – a good heater that’s sized correctly for the room doesn’t need to work as hard as an underperforming one to achieve the same warmth.
Use our calculator to work out what size heater you need.
These heaters combine radiant heat with a fan and they’re good at quickly bringing up the temperature of an office or smaller living space. They usually have a range of controls, including timers and eco-modes. On the downside, because they’re tall with small bases, they can be unstable and some are noisy.
These are designed to provide background warmth, and are good for rooms that need a quiet and unobtrusive heater, like bedrooms and hallways. Convection heaters warm the air near the element or body of the heater. The warm air circulates by natural convection around the room. Many have a fan, which our tests have shown provides faster warm-up and more even heating.
These are a type of convection heater, and can provide safe and quiet background warmth which makes them good for kids’ bedrooms or overnight heating. However, they are slow to heat a room and produce uneven heating.
These have glowing electric elements with reflectors to radiate heat directly on to you. They provide quick directional heat to a small area of a room and also provide some convection heat.
Micathermic heaters produce a radiant heat that combines with the convection heating you would get from an oil column. They warm up faster, but can get very hot to touch. These have sheets of mica, a slate-like mineral, inside them which heats up quickly. They can heat small living areas but like all fanless heaters the heat pools at the ceiling.
Our research shows the five top heater brands for reliability are:
If you’ve got a heat pump in your rental, you’re probably on to a good thing. Heat pumps are generally the cheapest to run – they’re three times more efficient than an electric plug-in heater.
If you haven’t got a fixed heating source, talk to your landlord about it. They might be interested to know that some local councils offer subsidies or payment plans for getting cleaner or more energy efficient heating in homes. More information is available on the Energywise website.
Our calculator allows you to estimate the capacity of heater you’ll need to maintain a comfortable temperature. Measure the width, depth and height of the room to be heated and enter the figures into the calculator.
Our free guide provides advice and tips on what you can do to make your home warmer, cosier and cheaper to heat.
This report is available free to consumers and was produced with funding from the Ministry of Health.
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