The Most Affordable Heating for Your House

Šime Unić
The Most Affordable Heating for Your House

In the process of building, renovating and even buying a house, people often focus on the prices and size of the house, but forget about expenses that arise along the way and which can accumulate over the years – such as the money they put into heating the house.

The amount of money you will have to invest in heating depends on several factors: insulation, humidity, the ambient temperature (and climate), the direction your house is facing, the square footage of the house, and the heating method you choose.

So, what heating method should you opt for? We’ll recommend some options hear and list the main pros and cons for each so you can judge what the best option is for your home.


Air Conditioning

Air conditioners have become especially popular in urban areas, particularly where central heating hasn’t been installed.


The Advantages of Using an Air Conditioner for Heating

Even the first investment in buying and installing an air conditioner is insignificant compared to what you will save in the long run. It’s enough to clean your air conditioner once a year, and setting it up only takes an afternoon.

The practicality of air conditioners lies in the fact that:

  • They save energy (they’re at least 30% cheaper compared to other heating methods).
  • They’re adjustable - they can turn off automatically when the space reaches your desired temperature. This means you save electricity and money, and avoid overheating the room.
  • They don’t overload your electrics.
  • If you put them in the right spot in the house, the circulating warm air will be able to warm up several rooms.
  • Newer models have additional functions such as timers that enable you to set up the air conditioner to turn on/off at a specific time. Those with built in Wi-Fi enable you to control them from further away (using your phone), and “sleep”, “eco” or similar settings help you save even more electricity!
In addition to all this, air conditioners can be used in the summer for cooling your home!

Air condition device


The Disadvantages of an Air Conditioner

If you don't have a higher-quality model and good thermal insulation in your home, the air conditioner won’t be of much use in climates where the outside temperature drops below -10°C. The lower the outside temperature, the less powerful your air conditioner actually is. So, when it’s even 0°C outside, your air conditioner will be working at 90% capacity, and as the temperature drops, so does the air conditioner's efficiency.

Many people complain about the air conditioner blowing directly at them (though this can easily be resolved by changing the direction and angle of the flaps), thus causing headaches, or drying out the air. This is, unfortunately, true. However, newer models have programs for humidifying the air which can, at least to a certain extent, neutralize the negative drying-out effect the heating has. 

It’s important to choose a better-quality air conditioner model that will be more energy efficient and have additional functionalities that will (at least in part) eliminate some of the shortcomings.


Oil Filled Radiators

You’ve probably seen them in some older schools or used as a portable solution to heating smaller spaces. Truly, oil filled electric radiators have their place and serve their function, but they aren't always ideal.


The Advantages of Oil Filled Radiators

  • They head up the space rather quickly.
  • The oil which they’re filled with takes a long time to cool down so they can keep on emitting heat for a significant time even after they’re switched off.
  • They’re cheaper and more effective compared to convector radiators.

The Shortcomings of Oil Filled Radiators

They don’t cover a lot of space and, because of this, they're often used simply as additional (often transportable) heaters

Also, the heat they emit is concentrated around the heater itself. This makes them a great solution for small spaces, but they won’t have a significant effect in larger ones. Also, it takes a long time for the oil in the heater, and thus the space itself, to heat up.

Because oil is great at holding heat, these radiators can also be dangerous. They aren’t recommended for families with small children or pets as they can cause burns if touched while still hot.

Oil filled radiator


Convector Radiators

Convector radiators use the physical process of convection to heat up air. They contain a metal part at the bottom which heats up quickly, thus heating up the air inside the radiator itself. Since hot air is more dense than cold air, it rises above it and begins to fill up the space.

The main advantage of convector radiators is that they can really heat up a room quickly. Also, since they’re extremely light, you can easily move them around. They also aren’t dangerous to the touch. The main disadvantage of convector radiators is that they’re expensive. It’s enough to just open a window or a door to disrupt the convection process, which means the radiator will have to work that much harder to heat up the fresh air that has come into the room. 

As is the case with air conditioners, an initial investment can save you some money down the road since newer models have built in thermostats and give you the ability to program the radiators so you can cut down on your electricity bills.


Storage Heaters

The main advantage of storage heaters is that they use cheap night time electricity to heat up. The bricks that they’re filled with heat up during the night and emit the accumulated heat during the day. If the heater is large enough, you can save up to 50% on your electricity bill compared to the price you'd pay for heating the same space with an electric radiator.

The main disadvantage of storage heaters is that they’re basically stationary since they can weight up to 100 kilograms. They can also be energetically inefficient if they aren’t big enough and, since the heater blows hot air from the bottom, they can raise a lot of dust.

Wood-burning Stoves

If you have enough space to store wood, this might be the most effective way to keep warm. And it’s definitely the healthiest. Plus, the ambiance ends up being equally as warm as the temperature in the house.

The only disadvantage of using a wood-burning stove is that you have to put in the extra effort to get and prepare the wood to put in it, and always keep track of how much of it you have so you don’t run out. Also, you can forget about any kind of automation (the kind you'd have with an air conditioner).

Wood burning stove


Other Heating Methods

There are, of course, other heating methods. Central heating, be it the sort that uses electricity (which is more expensive) or gas (the cheaper option) is a common solution for heating in family houses because it's extremely effective, but it's also the more expensive heating method you can choose. However, houses that have central heating, especially if it’s also installed in the garage, have a significantly larger coefficient used to calculate the use-value of a space which ultimately raises the value of the property.

Significantly more modern heating methods include underfloor heating which a combination of solar panels for heating water. This particular method was implemented, for example, in this modern apartment villa on the island of Pelješac.

Conclusion

If your house has good insulation, choose the option that consumes the least electricity. Otherwise, your choice will depend on the size of the house and your financial capabilities.

The most economical solution is certainly a wood-burning stove, but not everyone is able to install one in their home. If central heating or the use of convector radiators is not a financial possibility, consider air conditioning (which consumes significantly less electricity than other electric heating methods), oil-filled radiators or storage heaters, or some combination of all of these methods.

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