Beat the Heat of High Energy Bills: Which heaters are the most economical to run?

As winter’s chill edges ever closer, what had seemed a fiery furnace during summer is now an ice hotel – minus the luxuries. We all know that electricity costs are exorbitantly high, with all signs pointing to future increases in rates. But what are the alternatives for heating your home without breaking the bank?

Different Strokes For Different Folks

It goes without saying that heaters come in different shapes and sizes, and that different sizes require different amounts of energy in order to operate at maximum efficiency and – hopefully – radiate the required amount of heat. Like all household appliances, every heater comes equipped with specifications detailing how much energy is required. If, however, you’re interested in the mathematical side of things, then this article on Business Tech will provide you with all the technical language your heart desires! For now, we’re just going to focus on some pros and cons of the different heater types.

Oil heaters

Warming hands over an oil heater


These are the standard heaters found in pretty much every store you walk into. These heaters are not without a certain nostalgic charm, but their use is limited.

Hot Facts
Cold Hard Truths
Relatively lightweight and compact, making it easy to stow.We’ve all that one oil heater whose wheels jam, making it willful and stubborn - the Christine of heaters. Also, sometimes size really does count.
Gradually generates heat, making it economical and light in terms of electricity usage.Has been known to only heat itself and the cat/dog/other pet practically curled right up against it.
Oil stays sealed inside the panels, making it a safe option (and handy since it can double as a clothes dryer).
Can mostly certainly not be used as a warm chair. Don’t try leaning on it either.
Works really well in bedrooms since it’s safe enough to use for long periods of time.
Unless you have doors open … in which case the heat dissipates real quick.

Bar heaters

Warming hands in front of a bar heater


No, we’re not talking about the ones you find at your favourite local watering hole. We’ll get to those later. These ones also have the fun pseudonym of ‘space heaters’ – probably only because they occupy a small amount of space, nothing to do with astronauts and failed space launches.

Hot FactsCold Hard Truths
They come cheap!They don’t look particularly fashionable.
The heat is pretty instantaneous, so there’s a quick-fix for when you come in a-shivering and a-shaking.With instant heat comes a hefty price-tag in terms of electricity consumption.
Trip function means if you stumble over it in the night, you probably won’t set your house/cat/dog/couch/new rug on fire.You’re going to have bruised shins if you do happen to stumble over it. And, you’ll wake the kids/wife/husband/dog (the cat won’t care).

Fan heaters

A small fan heater in a room


These function pretty much the same way that your car’s air-con does when you turn on the heat. It’s a fan that blasts hot air instead of cold. Relatively self-explanatory. It’s all in the name, really.

Hot FactsCold Hard Truths
You don’t have to wait to warm your fingers and toes when that frostbitten feeling arises (or when that significant other complains about icy extremities).No full body warmth potential. These guys are pretty puny for the most part.
They’re fairly energy-efficient when used for short periods of time.Longer finger and toe warming sessions will put a damper on your spirits when you see your electricity bill.
Precision heating means you can direct the heat straight at yourself (and keep doing so!).Your significant other won’t be pleased when you hog the heat.

Gas heaters

Warming hands in front of a gas heater


It’s variants of these that you would find at your favourite local watering hole. And – as you no doubt know – their purpose is to ensure that you stay near the heat source for as long as possible (it’s suddenly not too cold for a frozen daiquiri after all!). As the name subtly suggests, they run off gas. And you may think that’s better for your electricity bill – and it is! But (there’s always a ‘but’) it won’t be that great in terms of rapidly dwindling bank funds.

Hot FactsCold Hard Truths

Romantic warm glow is reminiscent of a fireplace, encouraging the opening of a bottle of red wine and the playing of your favourite soft music.

Red wine gives you headaches and listening to Adele makes you depressed and results in you drunk dialling an ex.

Loadshedding isn’t going to have an effect on this heat source, and the fire would even serve as a gentle source of light when all others go out!
You can’t read by the light of a gas heater! It’s bad for your eyes.

No chance of you straining the electricity grid since these run on gas! You can even go off-grid (should you need to for whatever reason … ours is not to question why) and still have heat!
Gas is expensive. Very expensive. And the price fluctuates almost weekly, and from store to store. It’s a little like gambling.

The Verdict

There isn’t a definitive one. It’s really up to what kind of heat you want, how quickly you want it, and where you want it. At the end of the day, whatever your heating preferences, Sunburst Electric is always happy to install additional plug points for your heater of choice (except the gas one … but we’ll do it if you ask us to!).

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