A warm home is vital for your comfort and health, yet many New Zealand homes aren’t warm enough.
A third of our homes fall below the World Health Organisation’s recommended minimum indoor temperature of 18°C.
Heating your home to above 18°C reduces colds, flu, asthma and visits to the doctor, especially in children.
The best kind of heating for you depends on factors including your home’s size and shape, how many people live there, your habits and comfort levels.
Start with insulation
Around 35% of the energy used in the average kiwi home is spent on home heating. For that reason, you should first make sure that your home is well-insulated and use draught-stopping seals around your windows and doors to avoid money you spend on heating literally running through the cracks.
Gas is the cleanest-burning, lowest-emission fossil fuel. There is a plentiful supply of gas in New Zealand, and that supply is steady and reliable. From a practical perspective, gas is fast and efficient, delivering heat the instant it’s needed.
To flue or not to flue
Gas heaters produce heat through the combustion of gas, drawing air for combustion either from outside or within the room itself. Heat exchangers then transfer the heat into the room. Flued gas heaters vent the products of combustion outside, whereas unflued heaters do not.
Unflued heaters are portable, cheap and 90% efficient, but can contribute to moisture, condensation and poor air quality. Flued gas heaters maintain indoor air quality and deliver warmth without condensation. If anyone in your family is affected by asthma or other respiratory illnesses, this is important.
One in six New Zealanders suffer from asthma. Rinnai are proud to have been granted the approval of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation Sensitive Choice programme. Rinnai’s Symmetry – a highly efficient fire which can be installed with a heat transfer system which allows you to heat an extra two rooms, Arriva and Energy Saver Gas Heaters are all approved by the Asthma Foundation.
Heat pumps use the same principles as a refrigerator – except in reverse – to extract heat from the air. Compared to standard electric heaters, they are very efficient, producing 2 ½ to 5 times the amount of heat per unit of electricity as standard electric heaters can.
However, not every heat pump purchased will be able to keep you warm on the coldest days. The truth is that not all brands perform when you really need them most – during those icy, dark winter months! But how can you choose right?
Low temperature performance
Heat Pumps sold in New Zealand are rated using the Australian H1 (7◦C) measurement. The H2 (2◦C) ratings is a far more relevant measurement for NZ conditions. Remember to ask for each brand’s capacities at the H2 rating.
Energy saving features
Heat pumps are capable of providing up to 400% efficiency in terms of heating output (i.e., for every 1kW of energy used, up to 4kW of heat is produced). Many other energy saving features may also be available. Ensure you check to see if the model you are comparing has the Energy Star mark.
The importance of quiet
The loudness of sound doubles for every 10 decibels. So a heat pump that produces 29 decibels is twice as loud as a heat pump that produces 19 decibels. Some manufacturers publish decreased sound levels on only the lowest fan speed, or “Quiet” modes. When comparing brands, ask to see sound levels across all fan speeds and settings to ensure your expectations for quietness are met under normal operating conditions.
Mitsubishi Electric provides superior, efficient and very quiet heating. Almost all Mitsubishi Electric Heat Pumps qualify for the Energy Star mark, and they are the only manufacturers to guarantee that their heat pumps will supply heating even when outdoor temperatures plummet as low as -15◦C.
The traditional way to ventilate a home was to open the window. These days a ventilation system can be installed to encourage air circulation within the home releasing trapped moisture, cooking fumes, gas from heating etc.
A ventilation system helps keep the home warm and dry so less heating is also required in winter months.
The use of a thermostat in your home you can reduce your power bill. A thermostat will allow you to heat a room to it’s ultimate level and not beyond, it will also stop your hot water system from heating the water to scalding (especially handy for those will young children)
Some appliances come with thermostats so keep an eye out for these ones. There is no need to use more energy than you require and a thermostat will allow you to choose what your limit is and stick to it.
Toasty toes with underfloor heating
Underfloor electric heating is undeniably luxurious and surprisingly affordable to install. It is efficient and healthy, as it does not disturb the air or move around dust and allergens.
Divide into heating zones for efficiency
Underfloor heating can be divided into zones, meaning you can heat up only the rooms you are using rather than the whole house, ensuring that no energy – or money – is wasted. Timers save money too. Set them to warm up your floors half an hour before you wake and to switch off as you leave to save money but stay comfortable.
Reduce heat loss, save energy
Heat retention is another benefit of underfloor heating. Using insulation boards on the subfloor below the heating system will reflect the heat upwards, making sure that none of the heat is lost, which in turn reduces running times, using less energy. In independent tests, it has been shown that good insulation can reduce heat up periods by a staggering 60%.
Underfloor electric heating provides a radiant heat, warming the objects in the room rather than the air. It requires minimal maintenance, supplying a quiet, comfortable, even level of heating.
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Find out what you can do to be Energy Smart savvy in the articles linked below.