CapeTownMagazine.com

Keeping Warm Economically: Heater Comparison

Unwrapping Cape Town with you.
Also engage with our other channels
to find something you don't want to miss.
 
www.capetownmagazine.com/subscribe
CapeTownMag
CapeTownMagazine.com
capetownmag

Keeping Warm Economically: Heater Comparison

We sized up various heating devices to determine which will keep you the most cosy for the least cash

Last Updated: 15 May 2017

One of the first things we Capetonians do when the weather starts to turn a little nippy is hauling out the old heater – it’s a sure-fire way to defrost those icy fingers and toes quickly and conveniently. The only issue is that it can also be an uber expensive option. According to Eskom, domestic space heaters can account for up to 16% of your electricity bill, so if you’re going to use one (and let’s be honest, no one’s willing to give theirs up), it’s important to choose the most energy-efficient of the lot and to employ it in the right contexts in order to bring down costs.

To help you save some dough this drizzly season, we chatted to the folks at Eskom and, with their help, put together a comparison below that outlines various heating options and the pros and cons of each. This way, you should be able to make a safe, informed and an economical decision about how to warm up your cave when the cold sets in.

COMPARING HEATERS ON COST-EFFECTIVENESS

Oil Heaters

Pros:

  • Oil heaters warm up spaces gradually and consistently over time, so they don’t draw heavily on electricity and therefore are quite economical.
  • Because the hot oil is sealed inside the panels of the heater, it’s a very safe option.
  • It’s efficient enough to use for long periods of time, like overnight in bedrooms.
  • The heater will stay warm for some time after it is switched off as the oil retains heat well.

Cons:

  • Oil heaters can take quite some time to heat up, so it may be a while before you feel the effects.
  • They only operate well in a small, closed room – if you’re trying to heat a large, open zone, this is not an effective option.

Fan Heaters

Pros:

  • Fan heaters work instantly, so if you’re desperate to thaw those fingers and toes right now, this is a good alternative.
  • They’re very energy efficient, and hence rather inexpensive if used for a short amount of time (one hour or so).
  • The units themselves are generally quite affordable.
  • They generate a precise heat that can be directed straight onto you.

Cons:

  • The fan can be quite noisy and distracting.
  • There is a small risk of a fire starting if the heater comes into contact with fabric and furniture.

Bar Heaters

Pros:

  • Bar heater units are generally quite wallet-friendly.
  • This type of heater warms a space quite rapidly and so provides relative immediate comfort and relief from the cold.

Cons:

  • Bar heaters present a fire hazard and also hold a burn risk for young children.
  • This sort of heater is quite heavy on electricity, especially if used for long periods of time, and is, therefore, costly to run.

Underfloor Heating

Pros:

  • Of all the options, underfloor heating provides the most consistent temperature throughout a room, from floor to ceiling and from one side to the other.
  • Once installed, it’s a relatively hassle-free heating option.
  • Because this system is installed below tiles or carpets, it takes up no space, is inconspicuous and not at all unsightly.

Cons:

  • Underfloor heating is incredibly energy intensive as the whole floor must be warmed before the air in the room can even start heating up. It’s, therefore, a very expensive choice.
  • If a house isn’t built with underfloor heating already fitted, it can require major upheaval to install retrospectively.

Infrared Heaters

Pros:

  • Infrared heaters warm up objects directly via electromagnetic waves and hence waste no energy trying to heat large volumes of cold air. They’re therefore the most efficient type of heater, and thus the most cost-effective to run.
  • This heater category works instantly and emits heat rapidly, so if you come in from outside ice-cold, this option is great for helping you defrost quickly.
  • Certain makes give off very little visible light, so save even more energy and cash.
  • Infrared units give off a very healthy, eco-friendly heat – they don’t release any gasses and don’t burn up anything to produce warmth, so the air in the room retains a good amount of oxygen and moisture.

Cons:

  • Because infrared heaters warm up objects and not air, they won’t actually raise the temperature of the room. You, therefore, have to be very close to the unit to feel the effects.
  • They can be dangerous as the elements inside do get very hot.
  • Once turned off, this type of unit will lose heat instantly and you’ll be back to cold in no time.

Wall-mounted Heaters

Pros:

  • Wall panels provide a gentle heat and can be left on constantly. So, once the room has warmed up, they don’t draw on a lot of energy to maintain a comfortable temperature and therefore keep costs relatively reasonable.
  • Because modern versions of this heater are generally slender and lie flush against the wall, they are unobtrusive and can even be painted so that they blend in.
  • As the most heat comes from the back of the panel, they are relatively safe for kids and pets.

Cons:

  • If you don’t make use of tin foil behind the panel, you can lose a lot of precious heat to the wall.
  • The fact that these panels are rather small reduces their efficiency.
  • Wall-mounted heaters have to be left on for quite some time before they start to make a difference to the room temperature, and hence they waste electricity and funds in this process.

Gas Heaters

Pros:

  • Gas units give off heat almost instantly, so you don’t have to run them for long to feel the glowing effects.
  • If the power cuts for whatever reason, you can still use one of these gems for warmth.
  • Because they rely on gas, they don’t put pressure on the national electricity supply, which is already taking strain.

Cons:

  • Bottled gas is very expensive in South Africa, even pricier than electricity, so this option will actually likely cost you more than electric heating.
  • They’re not very safe – gas heaters give off the harmful by-product carbon monoxide as well as other pollutants that are dangerous to inhale. Therefore, proper ventilation is essential, but then, of course, you run the risk of letting in the cold. What’s more, there’s the issue of exposed flames, which presents a burn or fire risk.

The Verdict: Infrared heaters are the most cost-effective option if you’re just looking to warm up your icy body. To heat up spaces at home though, it’s recommended that you use a 2-kW fan heater if you want to rapidly increase the level of warmth in an average-size room (3 x 3 x 2.5m) over a short timeframe of about one hour. If you want to slowly and steadily pick up the temperature in an enclosed, average-size room over around three hours, an oil heater with an output of 2kW is the most penny-wise option. Any heater you use must be controlled by a thermostat. Stay away from underfloor heating if you don’t want to burn a hole in your budget.

Photo Credits: Ruthanne Reid and Jason Woodhead | Wikimedia Commons

---

Looking for other ways to stay snug while spending less cash? Consult our comprehensive overview of cost-effective ways to keep warm in winter.

---

Use our events section for an up-to-date overview of happenings in Cape Town. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and if you have a smart phone, add m.capetownmagazine.com to your home screen for quick access on the go!

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle, connect with us onLinkedIn, check out our photos on Instagram and follow our Pinterest boards for updates on what’s happening in and around the Mother City!

Cape Town Events Calendar
November 2017
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30

Cafe ExtrablattSunday Brunch at Café Extrablatt

Home to one of Cape Town’s most affordable all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets

marc lottering cape town comedy clubHalf-Price Sundays Stand-Up at Cape Town Comedy Club

Laugh 50% off top-notch entertainment every last day of the week at this one-stop-funny-shop

ismael lo Ismaël Lô Sets the Tone at the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts

10 years later, Ismaël Lô comes back to the continent for a stellar performance

The Full Monty - 4Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of The Full Monty with a Local Production

Watch a local cast tackle this British classic

Kirstenbosch Summer ConcertsKirstenbosch Goes Big for 2017/2018 Concert Series

24 concerts featuring 30 acts including 6 international artists, spread out over 20 weeks; the best summer of your life!

Shakespeare in Love - 12Shakespeare in Love at The Fugard Theatre

Romeo and… Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter

Our City Film Project - 3Big Bad Wolf Pictures Presents Our City Film Project

Head to the V&A for a movie session with a difference

Junior MTB Workshop - 2BreakAway Rides Will Teach Your Kids to Mountain Bike With Confidence

The Junior MTB Skills Workshop Series at BreakAway Rides will turn your kids into champion mountain bikers

La Motte ConcertsClassical Concerts at La Motte Wine Estate

La Motte's culture of excellence reaches far beyond wine-making, by embracing the wonder of classical music

Markets3Sunday markets in and around Cape Town

Take it easy this Sunday at one of these great Sunday markets to take a stroll through

MAReSOLSatisfying Specials at MAReSOL Restaurant

Food that will make your palate and pocket happy

sea kayaking 12 apostlesSea Kayaking Weekend Family Special

Buy one adult kayaking ticket and get a kids ticket FREE with Kaskazi

ScootoursJunior Passengers Ride FREE Every Sunday with Scootours®

This exciting off-road adventure provides fun for the whole family

Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag Children's Events Cape TownKids’ Party Special with Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag

Treat your little one to the ultimate military-style birthday bash and save R500

GONOW LogoGet a discount on Sunday Sunsets with GONOW Electric Bicycles!

Watch the sun set over the Sea Point Promenade from an electric two-wheeler at half the price!

Food at Thali Thali Game Lodge and Reserve Sunday Lunch Buffet at Thali Thali Game Lodge

Cap off the weekend with a hearty, affordable spread at this family-friendly West Coast reserve

The Backyard Grill Lounge RibsBBQ Ribs Special at The Backyard Grill Lounge

Savour succulent, sticky ribs for just R150 per kilogram on Wed, Sat and Sun

Dizzys Camps BayDizzys Beer Pong and DJ Sundays Competition

Are you Cape Town’s next beer pong champ?

Bugz Playpark in Cape TownSunday Funday at Bugz Playpark

Every Sunday, CapeTownMagazine.com readers can enjoy a day of fun and learning with their children.

Kloof Street HouseSunday Lunch & Free Live Jazz at Kloof Street House in Cape Town

While away the last few hours of the weekend with some smooth tunes and good grub at this hidden gem

Crystal TowersSushi Making Classes at Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers

Wow guests at your next dinner party with your sushi making skills

Piano Bar 2016 food and cocktails 5Bubbly Special at The Piano Bar

Make this charming musical revue haunt home on Sunday afternoons for half price glasses of MCC

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

Curious to make exciting discoveries in Cape Town every day? "LIKE" us for a daily hidden gem.