With winter hitting the whole of the UK and blanketing most of the country in snow, the need to stay warm is uppermost in most people’s minds.
Having a reliable heater at home can make a real difference, and also provides an emergency lifeline should your boiler break down when temperatures plummet. And with the constant threat of more snow forecast along with a freezing February, now could be the perfect time to buy.
But how do you pick the right heater for your needs? Read on to find out.
What types of heater are there?
This is the key decision you need to make, choosing between OIL FILLED, CONVECTOR or FAN.
Oil Filled is like having an extra radiator and looks very similar to what may already be hanging from your wall. The oil inside heats up, warming the unit and distributing the heat outwards across the room. However, they can be slow to warm up and rather heavy. But they may be the most economical option.
Convector heaters look similar to Oil Filled ones but blow out hot air through a vent in the top, circulating it throughout the room. They heat up quickly.
Fan heaters are very similar to Convectors and warm up the fastest. They are normally the smallest and cheapest of the three and the easiest to use. Again hot air is blown out through a vent by an internal fan, but this can be a lot noisier than through convection.
The air stream will tend to blow in just one direction, so it will take longer to completely heat a room. You can though buy fan heaters that oscillate like a traditional fan, spinning around to distribute the hot air.
One important factor to bear in mind with Oil Filled and Convector is Portability, so ensure these have casters to wheel them around.
Is the power important?
The higher the power, measured in wattage, the quicker it will heat a room and the higher the maximum temperature that can be reached. In general, the more power, the more expensive it will be to run.
Many products on the market will have variable power and heat settings allowing you more flexibility, giving the opportunity to turn it down and keep a steady flow of hot air once your room has reached a toasty temperature.
What other features are there?
TIMER – Very useful for keeping rooms warm overnight when the temperatures dip the most. A timer will allow you to set the hour when it will turn ON and then OFF – often along with a maximum temperature you wish it to reach. A digital timer is the easiest to use, and may also allow you to set both hours and minutes, while a more traditional mechanical dial timer is cheaper but can prove confusing.
CLIMATE/THERMOSTATIC CONTROL – Often used alongside the Timer, this allows you to set a minimum temperature so that the heater turns on when it senses the surrounding air has become that cold. A maximum temperature can also be set to put the heater into a standby maintenance mode to keep the area at a constant temperature.
RAPID/INSTANT HEAT – As the name suggests, this provides a turbo boost to warm up the heater in the quickest possible time.
COLD AIR – Not all heaters only blow out hot air. Some can also double up with cold too, making them perfect for the summer and better value-for-money. They won’t be as effective as a proper air-conditioning unit however.
FROST PROTECTION – Similar to Climate Control, this senses when a frost is forming and switches on to warm up the room. It is a handy mode to leave your heater in when going away, to lessen the risk of frozen/burst pipes.
REMOTE CONTROL – Handy for switching on a burst of heat from bed, some more expensive models will come with a remote.
What about the Dyson Hot?
The most expensive heating option on the market, this looks like Dyson’s innovative cooling fan with an open middle through which a powerful stream of hot air is blown.
With variable temperature settings and an oscillating movement, Dyson claim it is the fastest machine on the market for heating a room as it distributes the hot air more evenly than its rivals. It also comes with a remote control.