How to get the best portable heater for your home

Published on
1 June 2020

So, you’ve decided that portable electric heating is the best option for your household this winter.

It makes sense, they’re a good option for renters or those with a limited budget, you don’t need to pay installation costs and you can take it with you when you go!

However, while relatively cheap to buy they are notoriously costly to run.

But don’t despair, there are ways you can keep your cosy-ness factor up and your energy costs down with a portable heater this winter.

Size matters

Make sure you choose the right sized heater for the room. Too small and you’ll have to turn it right up to feel any heat, too big and you’ll just be wasting energy by overheating.

Portable heaters aren’t designed to heat big areas, if you can’t shut doors or close off the area you want to heat, maybe an electric throw is the way to go!

Consider choosing a Peak and Off-Peak energy plan

If you’re using plug-in heaters as your main source of heating, one of the best things you can do is consider Peak and Off-Peak energy.

Peak and Off-Peak gives you the power to choose what you pay for your energy. You’ll have cheaper times to use your energy and more expensive times.

It’s great if you want to heat your home in the day or overnight during the week or throughout the weekend because that’s when it’s cheaper!

In fact, it’s cheaper over 70% of the time! So you can take advantage of when it’s cheaper and limit your usage when it’s not.

Read more about our Residential Peak and Off-Peak energy plan here.

Choose the right type

The good thing about electric heaters is there are heaps to choose from.

Do you want convection heat or radiant heat? (Convection heats the air, radiant heats surfaces).

Convection heaters are better for heating up small, enclosed spaces.

Radiant heaters are better for open plan or draughty rooms (but remember, you probably won’t be heating the room, you'll need to point them directly at where you want the warmth i.e. you)

Once you’ve decided on convection vs radiant, you need to choose between electric, infrared, gas, and oil-filled column heaters.

Which is best?

Look for heaters with adjustable thermostats, programmable timers, and multiple heat settings, these features will give you more control of how much power your heater will use.

CHOICE found there is not a huge difference between the different types of portable heaters. They're pretty much all 100% efficient, which means they turn all the energy they use into heat.

On average oil column heaters are cheaper to run, but they're slower to heat. Electric fan heaters are cheaper to buy and heat things up quickly but have higher running costs. 

 Keep running costs down

Heaters can only do so much on their own, the best way to make your heater more energy efficient is to make your home more energy-efficient.

  •  Only heat the rooms you’re using, when you’re using them.
  • Air leaks mean the room doesn’t stay as warm as it should, which means your heater has to work harder and will cost you more money. Keep the warm air in and invest in some quality lined curtains, block up gaps under doors, and seal up windows with weather tape.
  • Cover hard floors with rugs.
  • Instead of heating your bedroom all night use an electric blanket (they cost less to run).
  • Keep your heater between 18°C -21°C.
  • Don’t put furniture in front of the heater.
  • Instead of turning the heater up – put an extra layer of clothing on.
  • Use timers to take advantage of Off-Peak power.   
  • Use an electric throw if you’re just needing some personal heat.

Find out more tips and tricks to keep your energy use low this winter.

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