As we approach the colder months, it’s time to think about your heating options. Just what is the best electric heating system for your home? This brief guide will look at the main electric heating options such as reverse-cycle air conditioning and resistive electrical heaters. As you’ll see, what’s the best option may not always be the most efficient, but more the most appropriate. Read on.
Reverse-cycle Air Conditioners
How do these ubiquitous white boxes work anyway? Put simply, they move heat from one place to another by compressing a gas called a refrigerant. This system is known as a heat pump. A good example is a fridge. So, whilst the inside gets cold, the outside (at the back) warms up. Reverse-cycle air-con, on the other hand, operates as a two-way heat pump. Moreover, what’s surprising about air-con as a heater is that it can be incredibly efficient. In fact, reverse-cycle air-con uses about one-quarter of the energy that an equivalent fan heater does. One perceived negative when used for heating is the high airflow. The ‘breeze’ seems like a cooling effect, and so people tend to run them at a higher temperature than is actually needed. Fortunately, manufacturers compensate for this effect with wider and/or multiple air outlets with lower airflow velocities.
Resistive Electric Heating
Besides heat pumps, electric heating is all achieved with resistive elements, often combined with a fan. Resistive heaters work by passing a current through the elements whereby heat is created because of the resistance. Basically, the heat is emitted directly via infrared radiation or by using a fan system to blow the heated air into the room. This method, of course, applies to the omnipresent fan heater. Even heaters such as oil-filled electric radiators are still resistive systems and, therefore, costly to operate. Essentially, both radiant heaters and fan heaters are expensive to run but cheap to buy.
The Best Way to Maintain Warmth
It’s clear that a reverse cycle air conditioner is the most efficient form of electrical heating. However, to maximise the benefits of any electric heating system, look at improving your home’s insulation. Furthermore, address any gaps and drafts around doors and windows. Finally, if you have an older timber home, consider underfloor polystyrene insulation.