Home heating comparison
A guide to home heating options
In any house the effectiveness and efficiency of space heaters is a function heat lost (through walls, floors, ceilings, windows etc.), the amount of solar heat gain, the size of the space to be heated, the age of the system and the availability of the various fuels.
Affordability is a big factor. A ground-source heat pump might be very efficient but it is also very expensive to install. Ease of use also affects people’s choices. A heat pump is much easier to use than a woodburner. Unfortunately a guide like this cannot factor in all of these variables, however it does give an indication of the relative merits of each system in terms of cost-efficiency and sustainability.
A note on sustainability
‘Sustainability’ is based on the level of emissions and the renewability of the fuel only. Wood and pellet burners are theoretically carbon-neutral if the wood is regrown – which we are assuming is the case. Modern wood burners are more efficient than older ones and have much fewer particle emissions. Electric systems rate slightly lower than wood because 30% of New Zealand’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels (natural gas and coal) which are not renewable and emit greenhouse gases. Gas and diesel heaters emit CO2 and use a non-renewable resource – which will become more and more expensive. (Having said that, if the fuel is from biomass i.e. biodiesel, it is theoretically carbon-neutral and renewable.)
This guide has data for modern (2008) systems. Energy prices and system prices vary so the figures in the guide are indicative only.