There’s no need to feel the chill with the myriad heating options available that are perfect for keeping your home snug in the cooler months. There’s gas, electric, and reverse cycle air conditioners - that heat and cool, and even some clever air purifiers that heat and cool as well as clean the air. But which one is right for you? This handy guide will help you decide.

Types Of Heaters

Not sure which is the best heater to keep your household snug? Understanding how the different types work – and their unique advantages – is the first step to finding your house-warming match.

Portable Electric Heaters

A super convenient option, electric heaters plug into the wall for instant heat where you need it most. And there are plenty of styles to choose from:

  • Radiant Heaters– Instantly heat the area in front of them rather than the whole room. They’re among the most affordable of the bunch.
  • Oil Column Heaters – The oil inside the columns heats up slowly and continues to radiate heat well after you switch it off. Great for heating bedrooms overnight as you can switch them off before you go to sleep and the room will stay toasty warm.
  • Fan-Forced – Perfect for a small room as it directs the warm air further. Some fan heaters also oscillate and have heating and cooling settings for year-round comfort.
  • Convection Heaters – Generate warm air that then rises, so they’re perfect for low-ceiling spaces.
  • Electric Fire Effect – An instant fireplace without the chimney! These portable electric heaters mimic the genuine article by using an LED lighting effect to recreate the look and feel of flames. Best enjoyed with a steaming cup of cocoa.

Electric Heater Pros

Portability is the big plus with electric heaters, and they can be stored in a hall cupboard or garage when not in use. They are also easy to use: just plug in, switch on and feel that delicious warmth. Most are lightweight or have wheels so they can be moved to where they are needed.

Price Range

There is an electric heater for every budget. An entry-level radiant heater will heat up a small room quickly. At the top end are larger convection heaters, which are packed with features to turn up the heat in larger living spaces.

Gas Heaters

As the name suggests, gas heaters burn gas to generate heat. Before taking this route, you’ll need to check what gas is available to you: reticulated natural gas (gas connected via pipeline to your home) or bottled LPG. A heater designed for one won’t work for the other. Here are the options for gas heating:

  • Flued Gas Heaters – Built in and vented to the outside through a duct (the flue), they can be used in big or small rooms.
  • Unflued Gas Heaters – Also called portable gas heaters, these don’t need a flue but are best for big rooms with good ventilation. If you live in Victoria, there are restrictions around using this type of heater.
  • All gas heaters need to be professionally serviced regularly to ensure safe operation.

Gas Heater Pros

While gas heaters can cost more upfront, they are generally cheaper to run, so you save on running costs. They'll also keep on keeping on if the power goes out. We love that.

Price Range

A small, portable, unflued gas heater comes in at the lower end of the cost spectrum. The top end will get you an inbuilt, flued model with multiple heat settings, and you’ll need to factor in installation costs, too.

Reverse Cycle Air Conditioners

Looking for an all-in-one heating and cooling solution? Reverse cycle air conditioners are your ticket to year-round comfort. In winter, they bring the heat, drawing it in from outside. And come summer, they pump in refrigerated air so you stay cool as a cucumber. One of the most popular choices is the reverse cycle split system air conditioner, which comprises an outdoor unit and an indoor unit, which is mounted on the wall, that heats or cools a single area. Or, go for a window wall air conditioner (also known as a box air conditioner). Perfect if you are renting, box units are easy to install in a wall or window, and they can move house when you do. Most are designed to fit multiple window sizes, but always measure before you buy.

Reverse Cycle Split System Pros

These are a must-have if you are looking for an all-in-one, year-round heating and cooling solution. Reverse cycle split system air conditioners with inverter technology are the most energy efficient thanks to their ability to regulate temperature without starting or stopping. Then there’s the added bonus of air filters that remove dust from the air before circulating it throughout the room at the perfect temperature.

Price Range

A basic, reverse cycle window-wall air conditioner with remote control is a budget-friendly option for small rooms. At the top end are more streamlined units with inverter technology for cost-saving energy efficiency. Wall-mounted reverse cycle split systems are priced according to their size, power, extra features and design. Entry-level models are fantastic for smaller rooms. Higher-end models offer added features, such as whisper quiet mode, greater energy efficiency and even air purification. Be sure to factor in installation costs and remember The Good Guys can help with its Concierge Home Installation service.

Split System v Ducted Heating

If you’re looking to heat your entire home, ducted heating is another option. Ducted heating systems draw air inside your home, heat it at the main unit, then circulate it throughout the house via a series of vents in the ceiling or floor. “If you’re weighing up a reverse cycle split system versus ducted heating keep in mind that you’ll need a professional to install floor or ceiling ducts for a ducted system as well as a Reverse Cycle Split System, however, a reverse system is easier and cheaper to install,” says Scott Bazley, The Good Guys Buyer – Seasonal.

“If you’re weighing up a reverse cycle split system versus ducted heating, keep in mind that a reverse system is easier and cheaper to install.”

Outdoor Heaters

Thinking about adding an outdoor heater to the mix? They’re essential for those who love to dine alfresco 365 days of the year. Choose an electric model, or one fuelled by gas or propane tanks, for a deliciously radiant heat. When shopping, look for the outdoor heater’s two-digit IP rating. This rating indicates how well the heater can withstand dust (first digit) and moisture (second digit). Nine is the highest possible rating for each. Just remember, keeping your heater out of the elements will keep it heating better, longer.

Other Considerations

A wall-mounted electric outdoor heater gives you back some patio space and keeps hot elements out of reach of kids and pets. If you like to take your entertainment from the deck to the lawn to the pool cabana, consider a free-standing option that will move with the party.

Heating Capacity

The capacity of your electric heater is determined by a watt (W) rating. The higher the wattage, the warmer you’ll be. “For a small room, about 1000W to 1500W of power will do the trick, but if you're aiming to heat a larger area, look for a heater with wattage of 2500W plus,” recommends Scott Bazley.

Energy Efficient

Heating and cooling accounts for about 20 to 50 per cent of a household’s annual energy bill, so running costs are an important consideration. To keep costs down, always set your heater as low as you comfortably can.

When shopping, always read the Energy Star Rating for a snapshot of your heater’s efficiency. For electric heaters, a 6-star rating system is used – the more stars the better.

A Zoned Energy Rating Label on non-ducted, reverse cycle air conditioners gives you a seasonal efficiency rating across three Australian climate zones. This helps you to choose a model that will operate most efficiently in your region. Gas heaters aren’t covered by a government approved energy rating label but most will still have a similar star-rating label.

Extra Features To
Look Out For

  • Programmable Thermostat – set the temperature you want the room to be and stay at.
  • Oscillation – moves the fan heater from side to side for better heat distribution.
  • Humidifiers – a feature of some portable electric heaters, these add moisture to the air to stop the heater from drying out the room.
  • Air Purifier – an optional feature in split system reverse cycle air conditioners that removes allergens from the air.
  • Tilt-safety switch – switches the heater off if it’s knocked over.
  • Overheat Shut-Off Mechanism – automatically switches off the heater to stop it overheating.
  • Oxygen Depletion Safety Device (gas heaters) ­– senses low oxygen levels and shuts off the gas supply.
  • Flame Failure Shut-Off (gas heaters) – automatically stops the gas supply if the flame fails.
  • Filter Clean Alert – tells you when to clean the filter so the heater works efficiently.

Installation Tips And

Finding the right spot for your heater makes for a toastier room without maxing out the thermostat. A convection heater nestled under a window will stop cold draughts creeping in. As a rule, electric heaters should always be on the flattest, smoothest surface away from any potential liquid spills. Keep any heater well away from curtains, beds and blankets, upholstered furniture and rugs.

A warm room, or home, is a place where the whole family can enjoy quality time together. For more help choosing the heater that’s right for you, visit us in store or online.

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