Heating your Spanish house economically in the winter
There is a range of heating options in Spain besides electricity that can keep your house cosy and warm, says Sandra Piddock.
When choosing a Spanish property to rent or buy, south-facing properties are cosy in the winter but can be unbearably hot in the summer, even with air conditioning. As it’s easier to warm a house up than cool it down, I prefer to heat the place in the winter and enjoy the coolness for the rest of the year.
If your property has air conditioning, this can also be used as a heater in Spain. However, it’s not all that efficient in a large room and it can be expensive to run. Also if you have breathing problems or suffer from asthma, air conditioning can exacerbate your difficulties.
You can buy slim, panel radiators in Spain which are economical to run but they are mainly for background heat. Oil filled radiators are more efficient, and again are economical to run, but are rather bulky and unattractive.
Electricity in Spain is much cheaper than in England, although prices haven risen in recent years; if you have a large property, you could find yourself with a hefty bill in March. It may make financial sense, particularly if you are on a pension which has already suffered from the weakness of GBP against the EUR, to look at ‘pay as you heat’ options.
Paraffin heaters in Spain
Paraffin heaters can be a viable option; if the thought of the rusty, smelly old heaters of your grandparents’ days puts you off, think again. Go to any hardware chain and you’ll find a stylish range of heaters from as little as EUR 100. Twenty litres of paraffin can cost up to around EUR 50. It burns with little or no smell and for us 20 litres can last up to a month. Our living room is quite large, and we like to be cosy, so I’m more than happy with that outlay.
Bottled gas heaters in Spain
Another option for heating in Spain is bottled gas heaters. These are on castors, so can be moved from room to room. Again, there are some attractive models available for around EUR 70–100, though you’ll have to pay more if you want a heater with variable heat controls.
Calor gas in England is expensive, but in Spain costs around EUR 15–50 depending on the gas bottle size. A large bottle can last up to four weeks, although less in a large home, so it can be an economical option. You need to buy your first bottle; you can do this from a ferreteria (ironmonger) or gas stations and some hardware stores. You’ll have to pay about EUR 40–50 deposit on it, and you’ll also need to show your passport or some other form of identity. (No, I don’t know why!)
Log fires in Spain
Many Spanish homes, even new builds, have open fireplaces, so you may fancy having a log fire. Wood burning stoves in Spain are very reasonable, starting from around EUR 600, but you should try a log basket and open fire first, as a wood burner may make your room too hot. Depending on your taste, you can pay anything from EUR 30 up to EUR 300 or more for an individually made cast iron log basket.
It's handy to ask your neighbours where you can buy logs; sometimes several of you might be able to club together to share a delivery and save money. Some wood providers offer self-service, where you drive onto their weighbridge before and after loading your logs, and pay around EUR 1–10 per 10 kilos. Check local community website business directories and the classifieds in the English press for your nearest suppliers.
Better still, you can also collect logs from a forest near you and dry them out ready for burning. In Spain, people tend to dump wooden pallets on waste ground and you are free to help yourself to this source of free firewood.
Hopefully these provide you options for keeping warm in Spain without having heating bills which make you hot under the collar. Keep cosy!
Sandra Piddock / Expatica
Sandra Piddock is originally from the UK. She moved from Cornwall to Costa Blanca in 2008 and maintains a website in her spare time. Published 2009; updated 2016.
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