Best ways to heat your home on a budget
Ever wondered about the cheapest way to heat your home? Discover how much it costs to run a range of heating solutions and compare the best ways to stay warm this winter.
How we heat our homes in 2023
Around 97% of homes in Ireland have central heating, with 37% using natural gas, 36% using oil and 12% electricity.
Urban homes are more likely to have gas central heating with over half of town and city dwellers reporting it as their main heating source. In contrast, 60% of rural households use oil to heat their homes and only 4% are connected to mains gas.
How we heat our homes is changing though: the CSO reports that 84% of homes built since 2020 are heated by electricity and 60,000 homes now have solar panels fitted. Oil and gas-fuelled central heating has steadily declined in homes built since 2000.
What else can you do to beat the heating bills?
Working from home has become increasingly common in recent years, leading to a rise in the popularity of heating suits and foot warmers. These wearable devices provide body warmth without the need to turn up the thermostat.
Heating suits are garments containing heating elements placed around the body and powered by a battery or USB. They’re energy efficient and truly portable, so you can wear them while working at your desk, watching TV or reading.
How much does it cost to run central heating?
There are lots of different factors influencing the cost of heating an entire house per day. After comparing various systems like for like, gas central heating is the cheapest heating method.
Here’s what each fuel costs per day on average:
- Gas central heating averages out between €10.00 and €16.00
- Electric central heating averages around €12.00 and €20.00
- Oil fired central heating averages out between €13.00 and €22.00
Using a renewable energy source like solar panels generates between 3 and 10 kWh per day, so could reduce electricity bills by around 60%
How do storage heaters work?
Storage heaters are commonly used as part of an electric central heating system. They work by powering on during cheaper, off-peak periods, retaining the heat in clay or ceramic bricks and distributing warmth gradually during the day.
Electric storage heaters, often used in rental accommodation, average €7.00 to run daily with an hourly cost of 0.88c, but typically draw power during off-peak hours, so in reality costs less.
Storage heaters are designed for time of use tariffs so if you need to boost up the heating during the day, they lose their cost-effectiveness. On balance, gas-fired heating works out cheaper.
How do space heaters compare to central heating?
Some electric heaters are very cost-effective - especially if they have a low wattage, but if you need to heat several rooms on a daily basis, costs would soon add up. For instance, an electric panel heater in four rooms for 8 hours per day could cost around €15 per day or up to €460 per month.
Ultimately, the actual cost of centrally heating your home depends on
- the size of your home
- frequency and length of heating
- your thermostat setting
- energy efficiency rating (BER)
- type of energy tariff
- your heat conserving efforts
In reality, the only way to compare costs accurately is to use a smart meter.
What’s the best way to heat your home?
Electric, portable heaters like infrared, ceramic and oil-filled radiators are great for heating one room efficiently, but buying a space heater for every room would increase your electricity bill more than if you bumped up the heating controls.
Bear in mind that when you use central heating and the thermostat reaches a set temperature, the boiler switches off and only fires up again to keep the house at a constant temperature. This means the cost per hour will be reduced after the first couple of hours as your boiler doesn’t have to work so hard.
For those working from home or regularly only using one or two rooms, it’s worth buying a portable, energy-efficient heater with a thermostat to keep the room temp in check. This means you can keep the heating down or off in unused rooms.
The bottom line is: if you need to heat your entire home, central heating, especially gas central heating, is the cheapest way to stay warm.