The Cost of Heating Your Home in South Africa

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If you have ever used a wood burning stove, or you have known someone who has had a closed combustion fireplace for a few months, you may already know that this is one of the most effective, affordable ways to heat your home. But, what you may not know is exactly how common heating methods compare from a price perspective. Hydrofire recently prepared a comprehensive break-down of how various heating sources stack up side by side. The results have been fascinating, to say the least!

How Wood Burning Stoves Compare to Other Heating Methods

How exactly do wood burning stoves compare to gas heaters, pellet stoves, paraffin heaters and air-conditioning? Based on current prices, we did the maths to see how each method compares in price. These calculations use a R/Kw (Rands per kilowatt) ratio.

Wood burning stoves – R0.50 – R0.80

It is important to note that wood quality will greatly affect the heat output of any closed combustion wood burning fireplace. In a conventional open fireplace, heat is not retained. Instead, the chimney sucks out large volumes of air from within the room. The warm air is then replaced by cold air instead. An open fireplace only has an efficiency of 25-30%, which bumps the cost to R1.50 – R1.74. A closed fireplace has a far greater efficiency, as it traps heat inside the fireplace (and out into the room), and therefore requires less energy to produce maximum heat.

Pellet stoves – R0.80 – R1.34

These are great from an automation point of view and can be effective as a heating method. In addition to the somewhat artificial looking flame, there are a low number of pellet suppliers in South Africa. This drives the price of pellets up considerably. Compared to a closed wood fireplace, this price is double the cost.

Air-conditioners – R1.05 – R1.28

Due to the method of heat production, air-conditioners help to save electricity compared to conventional electrical heaters. Therefore, they come out as third most cost-effective option after a closed combustion stove or pellet stove. Downfall – considering load shedding in South Africa, one could end up being cold exactly when one needs the heat most (in winter).

Gas fireplaces/heaters – R1.19 – R1.51

While these are a great way to warm up a home, they work out to be not too far off in costs than electricity. It is also not ideal to keep a gas heater or fireplace in a bedroom in case of any leaks. From a practical point of view, gas is therefore not always the most effective option.

Paraffin oil heaters or stoves – R1.25 – R1.65

Paraffin heaters require liquid paraffin to burn, which soon starts to add up – particularly during a long winter. Depending on how long the heater or stove burns, you may find that you need to keep a large amount of paraffin in stock.

Electric heaters – R1.75 – R2.13

These money guzzlers use a large amount of electricity in order to provide heat. As a general rule of thumb, any device that is designed to heat will use a large amount of electricity. Bar heaters, fan heaters and all other types of electric heaters are therefore the least cost-effective option of all.

As you can see, it can be very worthwhile to consider the running costs of heating methods before deciding on which option is the best choice for your home. Many assume that a closed combustion stove is an expense, but when you consider the savings that you can enjoy month after month, it becomes easier to see that a closed fireplace is actually a solid investment.

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