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We can heat our homes in many ways, such as gas, electric, and pellet heating. However, what is the most efficient and cost-effective system?

If your boiler is faulty, outdated or you want to save money with a better home heating system, here's a guide to the most popular options. We'll cover their features, pros and cons.

Different types of heating based on energy sources

Heating systems are typically divided based on their energy source -- boiler, stove, radiator, underfloor heating, air pump, etc. -- but for this article we'll focus on breaking them down by the device that produces the heat.

Heating with natural gas

In Spain, gas heating is a common method of heating homes due to its affordability. In cities, natural gas is typically sent through pipelines, while in rural or small towns, propane can be used either in tanks or cylinders installed at homes or from a centralized tank.

Gas is one of the most efficient energy sources and cleaner than other alternatives, although it is still a fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide. It can be used for home heating, hot water systems (DHW) and cooking. Gas boilers require less upkeep than heating boilers, and they're more cost-effective than oil or electric models. The cost of gas varies depending on whether the customer is using the regulated or free market and what suppliers offer, but it typically ranges from €0.067/kWh for a TUR2 tariff from Cuenergia to €0.21/kWh for an RL.2 tariff.

The OCU (Organisation of Consumers and Users) states that for a 90m2 home in a cold region of Spain, a condensing gas boiler will cost €468 per year in heating.

Heating with oil

In single-family homes or remote locations where natural gas is not available, oil heating is a popular choice for heating. Oil boilers can quickly heat large areas and they can be put in almost any spot, making them a great asset.

Oil boilers are a less desirable option due to the fact that they produce more toxins, require an oil tank for storage, need frequent maintenance, and tend to be costly. In 2021, the average price per liter of heating oil in Spain was €0.845. The OCU estimates that heating a 90 m2 house with an oil boiler will cost €653 annually.

Heating using electricity

Electric heating systems such as boilers, accumulators, radiators and heat pumps are easy to install and require low initial investments, as well as offering environmentally friendly methods of producing energy, with no odors or gases released.

One of the main disadvantages is the high cost of electricity. According to the same research, traditional radiators cost around €934 annually, while accumulator models are more affordable at €822. Thus, electric heating systems should be considered for small dwellings, vacation homes or hotter climates.

Heating with biomass fuels

Biomass heating systems produce heat by burning biomass fuels such as firewood, pellets, or pruned branches, olive pits, etc. A stove provides hot air to the room it is in, while a boiler is linked to a water circuit to heat the whole house.

One advantage of this heating method is that it uses renewable and clean energy, and it's quite reasonably priced - a bag of pellets costs about €4 for 15 kilograms. According to the OCU, this style of heating will cost €313 annually.

One of the drawbacks of using this heating system is that significant work must be done to ensure it reaches every room, such as installing an external smoke extraction duct, and it requires more frequent maintenance than other systems. You must also have a place to store bags of pellets.

Geothermal heating is the use of energy from the earth's core to provide warmth.

Geothermal heating is a modern system that takes advantage of thermal energy stored deep in the Earth's mantle. Geothermal energy in the home is usually kept at a lower temperature (25-30º or less), and with heat pumps it can be used for heating, hot water and even cooling.

Renewable, safe, and highly effective, solar energy has low maintenance expenses and does not need tanks, boiler rooms, or chimneys. Geothermal energy, which is generated in the same location it is used, reduces reliance on outside sources, and its cost remains unaffected by energy market instability.

A downside of geothermal heating systems is the cost of installation, and they may not be viable in all areas. Beforehand, an evaluation of the land, climate and energy consumption of the house should be done.

Aerothermal heating is the use of hot air to create heat

Aerothermal heating is an effective system for heating your home, as it utilizes heat pumps to utilize energy from the air--keeping your house warm during winter, cool in summer, and providing hot water all year long. An aerothermal system works by consuming electricity to power the compressor motor, producing up to 4 kWh of heat energy for every 1 kWh of electricity used.

Aerothermal energy is an advantageous source of heat due to its cleanliness, renewability, efficiency and affordability (25% less expensive than gas heating), and requires very minimal upkeep. Installing a heat pump is costly, ranging from €8,000 to €24,000 depending on the size of the house and the power of the pump; however, it may not be suitable for very cold areas.

The OCU study found that aerothermal energy-powered heat pumps cost €339 annually.

Which heating system is the best to use in Spain?

Generally, gas, biomass, geothermal and aerothermal heating systems are the most cost-effective and efficient. Even though installation of a pellet boiler with radiators and DHW system, geothermal or aerothermal system is more expensive, national authorities are inclined to encourage them as they are renewable energies, therefore grants are offered to finance part of the setup costs, cutting expenditure substantially.

When selecting a boiler system, consider the cost of installation as well as other factors such as the size and type of home, what it will be used for (primary or secondary), climate, available fuels, initial investment requirement and payment terms.

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The typical Spanish family spends around 750 euros annually on heating costs. This value is already high, and may increase as energy prices remain elevated. Homes with electric accumulators and radiators will expend twice as much for heat in 2021; find out which system is least expensive and right for you.


A heat pump and pellet stove are the most affordable choices.

Your boiler may be broken beyond repair due to poor maintenance over the years (60% of boilers in the European Union are inefficient). Alternatively, you could replace your heating system with a more energy-efficient one given the high prices of different energy sources...

OCU has calculated the yearly cost of heating a 90 m2 house in a cold area (climate zone D), and we have discovered that biomass heating and aerothermal energy are the most cost-effective solutions.





Edited by Yapi
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