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With prices for oil and electricity hitting all-time highs, most of us are probably hoping it will be a mild winter. Heating a home has become very expensive, so people are looking for less expensive options.
Heating with dual-purpose air-conditioning units was until recently considered a relatively cheap option, but electricity now costs 53.14 agorot per kilowatt per hour, including VAT. At the Web site of the Israel Electric Company (all in Hebrew), you can figure out how much it costs to operate different appliances, such as a radiator, air-conditioning unit or fan heater. If you go to www.israel-electric.co.il, you can then click on "Useful Information" and find the little "calculators" heading somewhere at the bottom; the more information you have about your appliance, the more accurate your estimate will be. According to this site, an air-conditioning unit or central air will cost between NIS 0.53 and 2.76 an hour, while a fan heater will cost between NIS 1.06 and 1.59.
Oil, once thought to be a cheaper source of heat, has also become rather expensive; at Sonol, for example, the price for a liter now stands at NIS 4.31 (or NIS 4.27 if you order over 1,000 liters) - about one-third more than last year.
Many people are now turning to gas, claims Nir Hendel, director of DeLonghi at Newpan, even though this type of heating was once considered the most expensive.
If the heat in your building only turns on later in the day, or if you only want to heat one room, you can choose between a wide range of heating appliances. The most popular and safest is a portable oil-filled radiator. These radiators are pretty cheap nowadays: at Mega, I spotted a 9-rib model by Mayer for NIS 240. The disadvantage is that it takes some time before they heat a space. On the plus side, you can leave this appliance on all night, and they are safe around children. Make sure the cable does not touch the part that is hot, and that the plug and cable have no defects (these and other safety tips can be found at the Israel Standards Institute Web site, www.sii.org.il); you shouldn't cover the radiator with clothing, towels, etc.
At Home Center stores, you can find a little drying rack that can be attached to a portable radiator, for NIS 50. A radiator that heats up a room relatively quickly is the DeLonghi Rapido; the 9-rib Rapido is NIS 959, and an 11-rib model is NIS 1,199.
To heat up a small space very quickly, when you're getting up in the morning for example, you can use a fan heater. If design is important for you, DeLonghi makes oval fan heaters that can stand on a table in blue, green or yellow; prices vary from NIS 139 to NIS 279. Another elegant model that looks like a spotlight is sold for NIS 298 at Shekem Electric.
At Home Center, a Kenon fan heater that looks just like an air-conditioning unit, complete with remote control, sells for NIS 250; at the Sheshet stores, you can find a version for NIS 200.
To enjoy looking at a fireplace without having to chop wood, you can choose an electric fireplace such as the Prusman model for NIS 600 at Home Center.
If you use gas or kerosene heaters, be aware that they take oxygen out of the air, so you will have to leave a window open, and can never leave these heaters running unattended or while you sleep. At Shekem Electric, a Delonghi gas heater is sold for NIS 899; at the Home Center branch I checked, I didn't see any gas heaters, but they did sell two sizes of Prusman kerosene heaters for NIS 400 and NIS 1,000.
Electric blankets are great for people who love to step into a warm bed, but one shouldn't leave them on while falling asleep. At Shekem Electric, a single heating blanket is NIS 129, and a double blanket is NIS 259.
Another option is sleeping on a heated water bed. Water beds, apparently good for people with back problems, have a special heating mechanism, letting you doze off comfortably; prices range from NIS 3,000 to NIS 9,000. To check it out, go to www.waterbed.co.il.
To keep your heating bills as low as possible, check all windows and doors and seal any that let a draft through. At Ace, sponge-like rubber strips are available for NIS 16 to NIS 50 for six meters.
Putting rugs down in the winter might also make for a warmer feeling. Parquet flooring feels warmer than floor tiles, and looks beautiful too. At the Beitili stores, you can take advantage of a deal - with each purchase of a parquet floor, you will receive a rug from the Colors series for free; for example, if you buy NIS 1,899 worth of parquet, you will get a 140x195 cm. rug, and if you buy for NIS 2,699, you will get a 235x165 cm. rug.
And instead of turning up the thermostat, you can always cuddle up under a comfy fleece blanket, available in many colors and patterns. At Home Center, Home brand blankets, available in warm earth tones, are sold for NIS 60.
And don't forget your four-legged friend: at Meow Meow pet stores you can get little jackets for your cat or dog, with prices ranging from NIS 20 to NIS 90.