Heating your Spanish house economically in the winter

Heating your Spanish house economically in the winter

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There is a range of heating options in Spain besides electricity that can keep your house cosy and warm, says Sandra Piddock.

Spain in the winter is warmer than England but it can still get below zero. The days are generally sunny, although the evenings can be cold. If you have a north or east facing home, you’ll probably need some form of heating in Spain between November and March.

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.

Heating in Spain – heaters in Spain

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!)

Heating in Spain – log fires in Spain

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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3 Comments To This Article

  • Tim posted:

    on 22nd December 2008, 18:11:50 - Reply

    Think you may be thinking of another type of heater unknown to me, unless you were joking about her boiled ones. I'm referring to the ordinary portable Butano Gas heater and I've never known them give off any water. Some people I've heard put a small bowl of water in the room when using them to prevent the atmosphere drying out, but with or without that, you will never get condensation and subsequent mould. Have a happy and warm Christmas.......Tim
  • Ian posted:

    on 22nd December 2008, 10:13:11 - Reply

    A well worded and strong reply Tim. You're much braver than I!. I suppose any one living in the Torrevieja area permanently would not even read the article. What about the water given off by 'gas' type heaters. Would that not cause mould problems?
  • Tim Dill-Russell posted:

    on 19th December 2008, 13:08:01 - Reply

    I have lived in Spain for 28 years and you are only likely to be cold on intermittent days in December and January. Which way your house faces is probably relevant in Cornwall, but what is far more important is the quality and construction of your house here, and how well it is insulated and whether you understand the use of your persianas in Summer.

    Air conditioning, provided you take proper advice, and install the right model for the size of your room, will rarely take more than five to ten minutes to cool your room, whatever the outside temperature, and conversely when used to heat in winter, the same applies. Buy the Inverter type and you will hardly notice the difference in your electric bills. They also have fan use, high, medium, and low, as well as quiet and you would never know they were on, when operating on quiet mode!

    Oil filled radiators are expensive to run by comparison and personally I would not recommend paraffin heaters. The ordinary BUTANO Gas heaters on wheels which cost about the same are much cheaper to run that paraffin. 2, 11kg Butano Gas bottles will last the whole month for less than her paraffin costs. I have NEVER heard of BOILED GAS HEATERS.

    Calor Gas sold for 15.00€ would be for Camping Gas heaters and would never heat her large room for 4 weeks. If you have a house, why not install a fixed gas fire in the living room (and wherever else) and use the tall Butano Cylinders connected through a gas pipe. Each cylinder contains 35Kg and costs just under 40.00€. One would give her all the heating for two months at least and you never run out as you always have a spare and they deliver to the house and change them for you. I do all my cooking, showers, baths,etc with these and use the small 11kg ones in the little portable heaters on the rare occasions needed.

    Most new buildings (houses) will have the option of an open fire place. You can then buy and fit the imported Norwegian type with the glass doors if you want. They come with thermostats and built-in fans, so you need never suffer from over heating, but again get the expert to recommend the right type and size for your room.

    And finally, why read the classified ads in the English press to buy your firewood; would you read Spanish language publications in England to buy firewood? Tim.