heating your home

The Cheapest Way to Heat Your Home This Winter: Comparing the Options

With winter on the way in South Africa, it’s almost time to fire up the heater and start spending the evenings indoors. Whatever your preferred method of heating your home, there’s nothing quite like snuggling on the sofa in a warm house when it’s cold outside.

But these days, with ever rising electricity costs, it’s wise to consider what the most cost-effective and efficient means of heating your house might be. We take a look at the options to see which comes out on top.

Electric heaters

Electric options include bar heaters, wall mounted panels heaters and oil fin heaters, to name just a few. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but this is how they compare to more old-school methods such as wood and gas.

Pros of electric heaters

  • There are many different types and sizes to choose from
  • Small, entry-level electric heaters are cheap to buy

Cons of electric heaters

  • Some styles of electric heater are inefficient
  • Some types can also be a fire hazard
  • The cost of heating goes up with any increase on the price of electricity

Heating costs of electric heaters

As an example, a 9-fin oil heater, which is one of the more efficient options, uses roughly 2kW per hour. From April this year, we’ll be paying 14% more for electricity. The price will go from 93.8 cents to 106.8 cents per kWh with future price hikes on the cards.

Verdict: About R2.14 per hour

Wood-burning fireplaces

There are two types of wood-burning fireplace. Open, the type that are set into the wall and are completely open to the room, and closed-combustion, the ones that are generally free-standing and have a door to contain the fire.

Pros of wood-burning fireplaces

  • Closed-combustion fireplaces are efficient and create a nice ambience
  • Wood is a relatively inexpensive and accessible fuel
  • They can be used during load shedding and also offer a light source

Cons of wood-burning fireplaces

  • Open fireplaces only have an efficiency of 25-30%
  • Installing a fireplace if you don’t already have one can be pricey

Heating costs of wood-burning fireplaces

A closed-combustion fireplace has an efficiency of up to 80% and can burn six logs of wood for roughly 6 hours, sometimes more. With wood costing as little as R1.60 per log (at R40 for a bag containing 25 logs), this burn time would cost about R9.60.

Verdict: About R1.60 per hour


Some may be nervous about using gas to heat their home, but gas heaters are a safe and clean heater option. There are also a few different size options, so gas heaters can be suitable for both large and small spaces.

Pros of gas

  • Portable gas heaters are relatively inexpensive, costing in the region of R1000
  • Gas produces instant heat and can warm a room quickly
  • They can still be used when the power is off

Cons of gas

  • Ventilation is required when using a gas heater to prevent CO2 build up
  • Gas prices often fluctuate, so it can become expensive
  • If used improperly they can present a fire hazard

Heating costs of gas

A 9kg bottle of gas costs about R200 and will be used up by the average gas heater in about 30 hours at maximum output. At a lower output, you can stretch this to 90 hours but then the heating efficiency may be compromised.

Verdict: About R2.22 – R6.60 per hour

Heating options from Turbovent

Turbovent offers an extensive range of closed-combustion wood-burning fireplaces, ranging in both size and price. These highly efficient fireplaces are designed to heat your home quickly and efficiently and without high electrical costs.

We offer a range of products, from conventional air conditioning and heating systems to evaporative coolers and turbine ventilators. Contact us online or call 0860 266 537 to discuss your heating and cooling needs.


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