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5 best heating options for renters

From portable electric heaters to the humble door snake, you won't need your landlord's permission for these heating options.

electric heater rug jumpers socks door snake electric blanket
Last updated: 22 April 2020

Depending on where you live and whether you're a renter or a homeowner, your heating needs and what you can conceivably do about staying warm this winter will vary. 

For renters, warming options can be even more limited. After all, you're not likely to have the inclination to invest – or the landlord's permission to install – a permanent reverse-cycle air conditioner, word-burning stove or underfloor heating. 

But you'll still want to stay warm this winter, so here are five of the best heating options for renters that you don't need to get your landlord's permission to install.

electric column heater

1. Portable electric heaters

There are three different types of portable electric heaters to choose from – fan, oil column and panel. There are pros and cons to all three, but in the end a good electric heater comes down to overall design rather than type. Here's how to find the best portable electric heater.

The effectiveness of your electric heater will depend on the size and insulation of the space you're trying to heat. 

To discover more efficient ways of heating your home, check out our home heating guide.

stack of jumpers

2. Cover up

Cold, hard floors can be intolerable in the cooler weather, especially if you're renting and don't have underfloor heating. Here's a solution – rug up! 

  • Cover your floor with a rug, which will work to insulate your room. 
  • Single-glazed windows can also bring the outside cold in – or let the inside warm out – so covering your windows with a simple blind or curtain will help retain any heat you're generating inside and also stop the cold air from emanating in.
  • Covering up goes for your body, too. It's amazing how effective an extra pair of socks or an additional layer of clothing can be to keep the cold at bay.
unflued gas heater temp control square

3. Portable gas heaters

Portable gas heaters are more energy-efficient and produce heat faster in large spaces than their electric heater cousins, but come with limitations. 

Unflued gas heaters expel emissions from the gas combustion process, which are vented back into the room. They produce carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrous oxides (NOx) in small quantities, which can cause problems for asthmatics or people with certain allergies or respiratory problems.

They're illegal to use in bedrooms, bathrooms and other small or badly ventilated rooms – water vapour from the combustion process can condense on walls and ceilings and cause mould. 

Read our guide to buying gas heaters so you know which features to look out for. 

door snake

4. Draught busters

Draughts of cold air that enter through gaps in doors and windows can undo all your best efforts to heat your home. But as a renter, you'll inevitably need your landlord's permission to alter any fixtures like window or door seals. 

There is, however, an age-old solution to eliminating annoying cold draughts – draught stoppers, aka door snakes!

These tube-like 'creatures' are made of simple fabrics like corduroy or canvas and filled with insulating material to block out the draughts. They come in all kinds of different styles and prices and can be bought from most homewares and department stores, such as Bunnings, Big W and Kmart. They're simple products so if you're crafty, you could even make them yourself.

Another clever option is to add draught excluders, which you can tape to the underneath or top of doors or windows.

electric blanket

5. Electric blankets

Another cosy option for renters is to put an electric blanket on your bed. Turn it on in the afternoon to warm up and then dive in at bed time and savour the snuggly warmth of a heated bed. 

Electric blankets come in a range of sizes and with numerous heat settings; some are even programmable and may even have a wool-pile cover, which work as a woollen underlay as well. 

But there are some safety issues to consider. There have been numerous electric blanket recalls over the years and a number of electric blanket fires have occurred. 

All electric blankets must carry Australian Standard 3350.2.17:2000, so look for this when shopping. Read the instructions and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for use and care. 

For more on what to look for in an electric blanket, read our buying guide