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Electric Heater or Gas Heater?

When the winter sets in, you want a heating system that'll beat the chill and keep you warm and cozy. But you also want to strike a balance between comfort and what you'll be spending for the comfort. It all comes down to the most effective heating solution that fits snugly in your budget, while taking into consideration the energy bills that you'll run into.

Electric Heaters:

Usually portable, these heaters are suitable for individuals (personal heaters) or small rooms and enclosed spaces. The higher the wattage, the greater the heat and heavier the electricity bills. That said, an electric heater is a good option if you want one to use for just a few hours a day. As a quick rule of thumb, you can use 10 W per square foot to roughly determine the total wattage that you need. For example, a 1500 W heater should suffice for a 10 x 15 foot room.

Depending on the size of the room and your budget, you can choose from a range of radiant heaters, oil-filled column heaters, convection and panel heaters, and fan heaters. Radiant heaters employ a red-hot heating element and can provide some relief to individuals or a small family. Oil-filled column heaters use electricity to heat oil-filled columns or fins. Heat is transferred by the air circulating through the columns. Since they retain heat for a relatively longer time, they are suitable for long periods of use, such as overnight. Convection heaters employ a fan that draws air over an electric heating element. They spread heat more evenly and do a quicker job than radiant heaters. Panel heaters are thin and flat and mount on the wall via a mounting kit that's usually included in the package. Fan heaters are designed to blow hot air. Models with powerful blowers are available for large rooms.

Gas Heaters:

These are good value for money if you have a gas connection available. Given the same price point, gas heaters are more economical than their electric counterparts when you compare the amount of heat that's produced. So if you want a heater that you can leave on all day, a gas heater is more economical than an electric heater.

Gas heating produces waste in the form of small amounts of gases (carbon monoxide) and water vapor, which can lead to condensation and mold problems. There are two types of gas heaters that deal with these wastes Flued and Unflued Heaters

Flued heaters expel the exhaust gases and moisture outdoors via a flue or a pipe. Although they are safe, they have a few downsides. They are a more expensive investment (considering both equipment and installation costs) and create a slight heat loss, reducing the efficiency. On the other hand, unflued heaters expel gases and water vapor into the room being heated, so you should keep the room ventilated when an unflued heater is running.

Unflued heaters are available in two types convection and radiant convection. Convection heaters rely on natural air movement to spread the heat and are equipped with a fan. Some models feature a thermostat and remote control to provide easy temperature control. Unlike convection heaters, radiant convection models don't have a fan or other electronic components and rely on convection. They feature an exposed area that radiates heat.

Whether you opt for electric or gas, note the key features such as heating time, temperature that can be achieved, suitable room size, heat settings, controls and energy value (usually in BTUs or watts) to help you choose the right heater for your home.