What are the Options?

There are various methods that can be used to heat your home in Lanzarote. Each has its own pros and cons, but which one is the best? Well, if we determine the best option as the option that costs the least to operate,

Air conditioning

air conditioning unitAir conditioning is largely regarded as a cooling appliance, but most systems work in reverse and can heat. In fact they are actually more efficient at heating then they are at cooling. How efficient depends on the system itself, but it is typical that you can achieve somewhere between 300 – 600% efficiency. That is to say for every 1kW of electrical energy you consume, you get anywhere from 3 – 6kW of heat. This makes it much cheaper to run then all the other options. Most systems will operate with an outdoor temperature below freezing and cloudy days will not affect it. Installation is fairly unobtrusive, depending on the layout of the building and it has the added bonus of being able to cool in summer. The downside is it is one of the more expensive options, but the payback on electrical costs could cover that deficit in a relatively short time.

Electric heaters

By far the least efficient option. In theory an electric heater cannot be greater than 100% efficient, in practise it lower than this and 90% efficient is more accurate. This means you get less heat energy out, than heat energy in. There are various types available, from Halogen lamp heaters, to resistive heaters, but they operate the same way and cost much more to operate then any other option. In Lanzarote this is a problem as typically the fuse ratings in houses are quite small, therefore most places cannot use more than one or two heaters without tripping the power. As a guide as to how inefficient they are, you could heat 5 rooms with air conditioning for less than it would cost to heat 1 room with an electric heater. They do have a positive though,t hey are cheap to buy, by far the cheapest option.

Gas heaters

Cheap to buy, cheap to run, all you need is to change the gas bottle when it runs out. From my own personal experience, gas heaters cost about the same in gas as air conditioning does in electric, but the gas heater is cheaper to buy, does not require installation and can be packed away in the summer months. Safety is a big issue though. The fumes from gas fires can be lethal and you should fit carbon monoxide alarms as a safety precaution. You should never sleep with a gas fire running, which makes them impractical for use in bedrooms. You have to be careful with gas heaters, especially if you have small children.

Oil filled radiators

oil filled radiatorSimilar to electric heaters, they turn electrical energy in to heat energy, meaning that they can never achieve anything higher than 100% efficiency. They store the heat energy in oil, which means they take a while to heat up and cool down. They are a better option than electric heaters, but cost about the same to operate, which is much more than gas or air conditioning.

Summary

So what is best? Well, air conditioning is the most cost effective and the best in every aspect other than initial cost. However, as discussed earlier the payback can be relatively short. Lets use a Daikin 3,5kW system as an example. To heat an average lounge for 5 hours a day for 4 months of the year, at a utilities charge of 13 cents per kWh, then it would cost about 60€ a year to operate. A gas heater would be about 70€ a year. An electric heater would be about 260€ a year. So it costs about 200€ a year more to use the electric heater, giving a payback time of around 4-5 years, plus you get cooling in the summer with the air conditioning.

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