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When it comes to heaters, you can spend a little or a lot, from the very basic to the latest in technology.

Rebecca Stockdale and her two children have just moved into their new home. They use a Canara and ducted heating to warm their 3-bedroom home. “We have been leaving the heating on overnight lately -- God knows how much our bill will be!” Rebecca said.

We can't get through winter some sort of heating, but with so many different types on the market which ones work best and how do we keep those heating bills from blowing out?

“Certainly the advice has changed over the years and the newer models have much better safety aspects to them”, said heating specialist Hans Vanderstadt from Camberwell Electrics.

We turned to Hans for advice and first off, we looked the bedroom. “Best for the bedroom is a panel type heater”, Hans said.

Modern homes with open plan living look great, but are difficult to heat. "Zoning" has become the new buzz word -- by only heating the areas you're using, you can cut your heating bill in half. Gas ducted heating or an electric split system are deemed the best to heat the whole home.

Gas heaters come with energy star ratings -- An increase of just one star will save you 10% on running costs. Hans says the heater's thermostat should be set between 18 and 21 degrees, dropping the temperature by one degree will also give you a 10% saving in running costs.

Portable electric heaters are the most popular because they're the cheapest, but they're the most expensive to run. For an average sized home using an electric heater 8 hours a day, expect to pay $23 a week.

Using an electric convection heater or oil heater, your bill will go down to around $16 a week; you'll pay as little as $10 weekly if you use gas heating and panel heaters almost as cheap at $9.80.

Electric reverse-cycle heaters the cheapest to run at around $7 a week, although you will need more than one unit to heat a whole house, but if you have access to free wood, a wood heater is the cheapest way to keep warm.
However, if you have to buy fuel, an entire winters supply will cost around $400.

But for those who rent, installing a heater isn't an option. “Those people who live in rented premises and are buying heaters trying to heat a large area with one electric heater, face very high bills”, said Choice spokesman, Christopher

Independent testers for consumer group Choice rated 20 electric heaters ranging in price from $60 to nearly $400. “What sort of grills and barriers are there to stop kids putting their fingers in? How well built is it so it doesn't easily tumble over? We test that and in fact, we put a towel over an electric heater just to see if it will overheat, if there's safety controls over the heater that will close it down”, Christopher said.

The $149 DeLonghi electric heater scored highest -- it has a safety switch, was the fastest heater to rise 10 degrees and had the highest room temperature after two hours. One of the most expensive on the list was the $200 Omega Altise, which scored the lowest.

For those who want an efficient heater with style, you can't go past a gas log fire. “They give you the ambience -- you feel warmer just looking at them -- but they also give you the radiant heat. It's fan assisted, very efficient and you can set the temp as well -- it's thermostatically controlled”, Hans said.

“Don't just buy on price. The cheaper it is the less efficient or quality it's going to be”, Han said.

The model of the Delonghi heater is: DeLonghi HCS2552FTS

Price Range
Electric Heaters:
Fan heaters from $29
Column heaters between $99 and $300
Split systems from $600+

Gas heaters:
Space heater $1,400-$2,400
Log fire $3,000-$6,000
Ducted gas $2,500 installed
Ducted-inverter from $5,000.