Choose the Best Heater for You
If you’re struggling to choose heating for your home, you’re not alone. Most people understand that choosing a system to suit their home and lifestyle will be more cost effective, but what they often don’t know is how to evaluate which is best. Part 1 of the Heating Buying Guide gave an overview of the types of heaters in Australia and their prices. This second and final part looks at important considerations when buying a heater, so you can choose the best heater for you.
Installation and Flues
Depending on where you buy your heater, installation and flues (if applicable) may or may not be included in the price. Since these items can add significantly to the purchase price, we recommend you have them priced before you buy the heater.
Australia has stringent safety regulations on all heaters sold and their installation. It is important that you comply with safety instructions in the manual provided with your heater and hire a licensed professional to install your system properly.
Using Gas as a Heating Source
Mains gas (natural gas) is generally cheaper than electricity. Since this price can vary, you should check the providers’ pricing in your area.
The prices in Part 1 assume you have mains gas of sufficient pressure to operate the heater. If you don’t, a licensed gas plumber will need to install suitable pipework. The cost of installing pipework can be significant, so make sure you get a quote for this work before you buy your heater.
Mains gas is not available to all homes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a gas heater. If your home doesn’t have mains gas you can opt for bottled liquid petroleum gas (LPG) instead. Generally, we don’t advise using LPG as a primary heat source because it is relatively expensive and you have to deal with the hassle of running out of gas frequently. Talk to your local supplier if you have any questions about installing a gas heater in your home.
Radiant vs Convector Heaters
Most heaters on the market are either radiant or convector (convection) heaters.
The advantages of a gas convector over a radiant (space) heater are that it:
- Warms a room quicker
- Treats a larger area
- Has even heat distribution
- Has a contemporary appearance
- Is not hot to touch and
- Has more advanced features
The disadvantages are that convectors cost more to buy than radiant heaters and also require an electrical outlet to power the fan.
Radiant convectors are a hybrid between radiant and convector heaters and are priced in between the two models. The disadvantages of this type include traditional styling, the need for an electric outlet and not having as many features as a convector.
Running Cost and Efficiency
Heaters run for extended periods so it is important to keep your running cost low by choosing a heater with a high efficiency rate. There is usually a trade off between low running cost and higher purchase price because of the more complex design in highly efficient heaters. To find out the running cost of a particular model ask your local retailer.
Other important efficiency factors to keep in mind:
- Most types of heaters come in a range of efficiencies
- Energy usage of gas heaters does not have to be shown in a consistent format
- Your own running costs will differ from those shown on energy labels because test conditions and assumptions vary from actual usage
- Reverse cycle air conditioners are generally the most efficient form of heating
Timers are very popular because they let you set and forget. Who doesn’t want to wake up to a warmed room on a cold winter morning? Multiple fan speeds, a child lock and remote controller are also popular.
Some air conditioning controllers, such as iZone and SKYFi, let you use your smart phone or tablet operate your air conditioner.
If you are paying extra for features be certain you are going to make good use of them.
Heater Life and Warranty
Buying a cheap heater may be a false economy if it needs replacing after only a few years. Undersizing your heater will mean it will have to work harder and generally won’t last as long as it should.
Invest in a quality heater that lasts longer and costs a lot less to run. A good indication of system quality is warranty coverage, claims frequency and waiting periods. Also ask the supplier for details of the installation warranty (installers and gas plumbers who are sourced independently may not warrant their work).
Environmental efficiency is about reducing emissions and environmental impact in order to protect and sustain our environment. The Australian government provides an overview of the environmental efficiency of heaters on their energy efficient home design website. According to their data, gas is a more environmentally efficient heat source than electricity generated from coal power stations.
We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of your heating options and helps you find a suitable choice that will last. Couple this with a heating specialist and you’ll have everything you need to make an informed decision about which system to purchase. A heating specialist will explain the features, running costs, warranties and optional extras so you can choose a model to suit your home. If you have any questions please feel free to ask us below.
If you would like to talk to us about finding the right heating system for your home in Perth Western Australia feel free to call us on (08) 6363 5343 or fill out our contact form.
This guide was written by Don Curnow owner of Air and Water Residential. Don has extensive experience in the heating industry in Perth and Melbourne. Air and Water Residential supply and install quality gas fires, wood heaters, ducted gas heating, wall furnaces, flued gas heaters and air conditioning for home owners in Perth, Western Australia.