Room Heater Systems can save energy and money
Have my neighbours done this?
What is it?
Alternative to central heating or individual heaters used to supplement central heating
What will it save me?
Depends on the fuel and how much it replaces other heating systems but could be £100's
How do I get it?
Best to get advice and use a specialist contractor especially for wood burners
What does it cost?
An individual wood burner could cost over £4,000 installed (2013)
What are the technical details?
The most efficient way to heat a home is with a central heating system, but that may not be appropriate and room heaters are used as an alternative, especially as a secondary heater when it's not cold enough to warrant heating the whole house.
There are a large variety of room heaters depending on the fuel available and where fitted.
They can be portable, fixed to the wall or installed in a fireplace and connected to a chimney, but it's best to use room heaters that include time and temperature controls so they are only working when needed.
a. Fixed rooms heaters include:
- Electric panel radiators often used in bedrooms in conjunction with storage heater systems. These will normally have timers and thermostats fitted.
- Gas wall heaters may have been used as an alternative to central heating and need to be fitted on outside walls for the balanced flue, and require a gas supply and electrical supply connected to each unit if they have time control.
- Gas fires will be fitted where a chimney flue and gas supply is available. There are many different designs including radiant heaters and decorative fuel effect heaters. The most efficient types will be enclosed rather than open to the room.
- Solid fuel open fires are very inefficient, losing most of the heat through the chimney. These should be replaced by enclosed fires or stoves where the amount of air available to the fire is controlled and the efficiency can be improved from around 25% to over 60%.
- Wood burning stoves also need to be connected to a flue pipe but not necessarily to an existing chimney. Modern stoves can burn a variety of wood fuels and some can include a hopper to store fuel which is fed into the fire automatically and have an automatic ignition system.
b. Portable heaters are mainly electric types including oil filled radiators, convector heaters, radiant heaters, fan convectors and halogen heaters. Most electric heaters convert 100% of the electricity used into heat but on-peak electricity is expensive and so running costs for all of these tend to be high. The best ones have time and temperature controls.
c. Heaters to avoid are those that use bottle gas or paraffin. They release flue gasses into the room with large quantities of moisture as well as carbon dioxide and other gasses which lead to increased condensation with the potential of mould growth.
Fitting fixed room heaters is best left to the professionals since they require specific skills and qualifications to connect electricity, gas and flues although they can be purchased through a number of retail outlets. However, anything that has a 3pin plug attached is OK for DIY as long as you take note of the safety instructions.