We’re lucky enough to live in a society where everyone can feel warm and comfortable – but that does come at a price. Home heating is likely to be one of the most expensive bills you pay out every month after your mortgage, so it’s little wonder people want to ensure they’re getting what they pay for.
I’ve reviewed the most common heating systems, from gas central to electric under-floor heating, in order to help you choose the one that will really give you best value for money…
Gas Central Heating
I always hear it said that gas central heating is the cheapest option out there, but is this really true and does cutting costs mean cutting warmth too? Well, it’s a well known fact that gas is considerably cheaper than electricity, so by heating your entire home with gas you are saving money.
However, when it comes to installing the set-up, it’s another story. The pipe work requires extensive work to fit inside your walls, and you really don’t want to skimp on cheap, small radiators which won’t provide you with the heating you need if your rooms aren’t also tiny in size.
Verdict: Expensive in the short-term but cost effective if you plan to stay in your home for a good 5-10 years or more.
Portable Electric Heaters
Portable electric heaters – those that you simply plug into the power socket and they start blasting out warm air – are by far the most expensive type of heating out there.
If you’re feeling a chill at home it can be all too easy to simply invest in a cheap, portable heater for an instant fix, but it’s a false economy – by the time your electricity bill rocks up on the doormat you may find you’ve spent two, three or even ten times as much as you normally do, depending on how long you’ve kept the heating on for.
Verdict: A cheap way to get five minutes of instant warmth but any more and you’ll be spending through the roof.
Electric Storage Heaters
Electric storage heaters also run on electricity but the difference is that they only use that energy during the night, when it’s typically cheapest – of course, you’ll have to be on some sort of tariff that gives you discounted electricity overnight, but most people already are.
This electricity is used to warm the bricks inside, and the heat is then released slowly throughout the day. However, by the evenings those bricks have lost most of their warmth so it’s only really ideal for people who stay at home all day, as you won’t be getting much benefit if you’re in work from 9 to 5!
Verdict: A low-cost solution for those at home during the day, but less suited to anyone else.
Electric Under Floor Heating
Another option for those who prefer electric heating is to keep it all under the floor. This has numerous benefits, not least getting rid of those unsightly radiators and heaters which just never seem to match you decor.
In terms of heating, it’s actually a fantastic solution because the warmer air stays near ground level where it’s actually felt most, unlike wall-mounted heaters that send it up to the ceiling and cause cold draughts in the process thanks to that constant flow of air.
However, as with gas central heating, this option is far from easy to install. It requires pulling up your carpets or wooden floors so that the cables can be fitted below, which can be quite expensive.
Verdict: Expensive to install but well worth it from an effectiveness and aesthetical point of view.
Last on my list is the good old gas fireplace! Electric fireplaces exist but they’re more along the lines of portable heaters in terms of power consumption and output. Gas fireplaces are great as they’re relatively low cost to run, and provide an enormous amount of warmth if you keep the doors to the room closed.
However, a gas fireplace will require you to have a proper chimney in place, something very few modern houses come with, and can pose a risk due to the naked flame and the open gas connection. Definitely not the heating to go for if you have young children at home! Plus, they require quite a bit of maintenance to clean.
Verdict: A stylish option for child-free homes, but best used in conjunction with another heating source rather than having a fireplace in every room!
What heating do you have at home? Would you recommend it?
Estelle Page is an interior designer and DIY addict currently renovating her old Victorian home. She plans to keep the original fireplace but combine it with under floor heating throughout the rest of the home.