Malta Inside Out


Heating a house in Malta

An old favourite dusted off each winter, until kerosene prices shot up! Polluting and dangerous of course too!

An old favourite dusted off each winter, until kerosene prices shot up!

The issue of how to heat a Maltese house to ambient room temperature never quite gets resolved. I’ve tried most forms of heating. What I need is a level of warmth that means I don’t have to wear fingerless gloves, two fleeces and a hat indoors – and still feel chill. It is often warmer outside than in. Maltese houses are built to resist sunlight.

We’ve had several queries from those abroad thinking of relocating to Malta about how we heat our houses for those crucial months – Jan to March; it’s chill, chill, chill right now in my place, but from past experience, I often find February is the really bitter month indoors.  The house has had by then three months to chill down since last autumn’s last rays of warmth.

How you heat and how well you keep warm relate largely to your type of flat or house – stone, concrete, top floor, lower floor, thickness of stone, layout of rooms, number of windows and so on. Structure plays a large part in the choice and effectiveness of heating. Few people have central (oil-fired) heating as that requires planning while building or renovating. Fewer still use alternative bio-fuels or have photo-voltaic panels installed. And I haven’t heard of anyone with an Aga or fuel-fired cooking range in Malta, let alone one that can run heating as well.

Clearly, if you are renting, you have fewer choices. If you are house or flat hunting in the summer, do think about the heating issue!

The short answer to ‘how we heat’ is most of us don’t (effectively). We just wear more clothes. For the longer answer and the regular heating options, read on. No solutions promised though, even with modern technologies available!

Wood-burning stove

I installed one three winters ago in my metre-thick walled lounge. The pipe goes up the stairwell and just heats my bedroom above.

Pros: it looks nice, is a focal point, and provides comfortable warmth in one room at least.
Cons: It gobbles wood (one bag @ €8 lasts two nights for five hours of heating depending on the type of wood). Can be messy to clean. Needs to be on a couple of hours to really feel heat. Pipe drips liquid tar when it rains (chimney and piping badly installed!). Some possibility of flu clinker catching fire (not heard of chimney sweeps here, but probably a do-it-yourself job if you’ve a stone chimney breast not piping).
Verdict: I like it for atmosphere and can make room cosy if lit for long enough. Not efficient and can’t hope to heat more than one room.

Kerosene Heaters

I had a digital, very effective Japanese-make kerosene heater that gave central heating equivalent ambient warmth – until it went wrong three years ago and no one here can mend it! It would cut out if oxygen in the room was low and had a child safety lock button. About two years ago, the price of Kerosene more than doubled, making it very expensive a form of heating.

A few years back you’d hear a lot of praise for Potez heaters. Estate agents still advertise homes with a Potez kerosene heater in glowing terms:”…a homely living room with a Potez Heater,” was how one put it recently. People now are trying to see if they can find alternative fuels – lighting oil – to use in these heaters. Anyone who was child in the 1960s and 70s in the UK would remember a Potez heater in classrooms. I’ve heard that a Potez heater can heat an entire Maltese farmhouse; shame about the kerosene price. I would recommend getting expert advice on anything to do with kerosene heaters!

Pros: does give great heat – if a modern type of heater. Centrally located, it may heat the whole house.
Cons: kerosene prohibitively expensive. Heater needs care and attention and they can be a hazard for pets and kids, and fiddly to operate. Need to ventilate rooms frequently.
Verdict: If you inherit one, use it in the really cold periods as it is effective, though costly to run.


My very friendly gas man called this morning (not to be greeted as Rik Mayall did his in that infamous episode of the BBC’s comedy, ‘Bottom‘.) Malta’s gas men deliver bottles, not check meters. They call in my street twice a week, delivering yellow bottles we can’t do without – for cooking and heating. Portable gas heaters on wheels are the main source of heating for most of us. I hate them, but can’t live without them come winter.

Pros: Easy to obtain (if you have a bottle already). Delivered to door. Instant heating. Easy to light. Can move from room to room as you please.
Cons: Heaters can smell (both mine do, even with adapter and piping changed). Bottles heavy to heave around – my back’s had it this year. Metal casing ugly. Won’t last that long in peak winter. Safety concerns: eats oxygen and you need to ventilate rooms often. Produces moisture.  The price doubles each year it seems; I checked back 2 years or so and found it was €10.50 a bottle; now it’s  around €20.
Verdict: I’d really freeze without them, but don’t like them on safety grounds. So an evil necessity.


Some of my rooms have them to cope with summer heat, so why don’t I use them in winter? Well, with electricity prices what they are, it can prove very costly. I abandoned using aircons as heating ages ago, and resorted to gas heaters. If you’ve a more modern flat, fully airconned, you are more likely to use them, swear by them for heating and not worry about the cost. Older houses rarely heat up well with them, and always cool down the minute they are switched off – warmth from a solid fuel stove can linger till next day.

Pros: Easy to use. Safe. Instant heat.
Cons: Costly to install and in older houses, rarely placed in all rooms. Expensive to run. Heat dissipates immediately they are switched off. Dry eyes and skin out.

No heating at all

Yes, this is an option. We won’t have frost on the inside of windows here, though hail storms and temperatures around 3-4°C at night are quite possible in wet periods. So a first line of defence is to put on more clothes, including thermals!  I know someone who won’t bother with any heating at all in their old house – apart from a rare open fire. Their mantra is that if people lived in the 1700s in it without heating, then they can too. I could just about live without room heating but not without an electric blanket to remove the damp, cold feel of my bed.

Roof insulation

Less a heating method and more heat loss prevention. The foam layer on top of the roof can be costly to install and may not do the business in winter. People I know say it can cut out summer heat but that it makes only a subliminal difference to room temperatures when it has to keep warmth in. (I am waiting for per metre costs so will add these soon).

Under-floor heating

This has been quite popular in recent years as it’s become less costly to import the technology. It’s best to install when you are renovating or building afresh as it’s too disruptive to dig up floors later. It runs off electricity, so in theory is expensive. A friend put in in his old farmhouse a year back so has trialled it for one full winter. Here are his views:

Pros: Quiet, efficient [low voltage so, in theory, also low cost]. No big impact on our energy bill – but we’ve only had one winter so far so hard to quantify. But we do use it judiciously – we keep two rooms on consistently [study and main bedroom] and it kicks in for about 10 – 15 mins per hour. It’s silent, cuts out humidity, offers even heat and kills dampness at source. In use with a de-humidifier, we maintain a temp around 18 degrees.
Cons: Needs planning to install. The only thing I’m not yet sure about is the relative cost.

Oil-fired Central Heating

Very few people have this installed, but it does work when it is! Can be ugly and expensive, and you need space to house an oil tank and few people in Malta have that. It’s rare to find here and thought of as a real luxury as it would only need to run around one month a year in reality. I am tracking down more details from the only friend I know with it. I remember her saying she didn’t put it on unless she had to!

Solar & Alternative Energies

Clearly, with all the sun Malta gets, solar energies have come to the fore in recent years, and a lot of people are making use of government subsidies to install solar panels primarily for water heaters. Fewer install photovoltaic systems that generate domestic electricity. You need a good deal of roof space for that I understand. I get a flyer a day through my letter box from local firms offering all manner of solar, eco-friendly, power systems. If you want some unbiased information about the practicalities in Malta of alternative energy supplies in the home, try contacting the Institute for Sustainable Energies at the University of Malta. See also the Malta Resources Authority for background info and about subsidies.

We will be updating this article as we’re sure to get comments in. Heating a Maltese house is a hot topic of conversation in winter – every winter!

Photo: Brandi Sims

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101 Comments about “Heating a house in Malta”

  1. Very interesting and informative. Although living in the UK now, we are ex South Africans, and are often asked if we miss the warmth in SA. Our reply is always that we are far warmer in the UK than we were in SA during the winter months – we have actually become very spoilt. ‘Warmth’ in the SA winter was always thick jersey layers, old hockey socks, a blanket round the shoulders and legs in the lounge at night and flipping a coin to see who would have to get up to make a hot drink for all. We relied on stand-alone oil filled heaters with 2 or 3 upright vertical cells that used electricty to run them when we had a particularly cold ‘snap’ One of my sons still in Johannesburg did a rebuild, and in the process installed underfloor heating in the bedrooms and bathrooms and an expensive German slow wood burner in the lounge. This requires a special type of wood at a high price. Winter only lasts for 2 to 3 months and interspersed between them, as in Malta there is the glorious, vibrant yellow sunlight to chase away those cold ‘blues’.

  2. No heating at all.

    “Their mantra is that if people lived in the 1700s in it without heating, then they can too.”

    This expresses my feelings precisely; I couldn’t have written it better 🙂

  3. My thinking is that if 18th century man in Malta had had better heating available, then no doubt he would have used it gladly. Also, we lead far more sedentary lives these days so feel the cold more inside. My hands are numbing at the computer keyboard right now. And I don’t think they bothered having baths much in those days in winter either!

  4. Really interesting article Liz. My current situation is open hearth in the living room (with chimney that goes up through the bedroom), which gobbles logs but not as fast as yours, aircon in the bedrooms (which I do use to heat as well as cool), and a fan heater that follows me around as necessary.

    I’ve often thought about gas heaters due to cost, but the house is an old house of character with small rooms and precious little space to put one. I have way too many bookshelves…

    What I have now probably isn’t the absolute best solution but it’s the best I’ve got so far.

  5. Exactly our situation Andy – a variety of room-by-room heaters and options which come into play at various times of day and weather conditions! My lounge is now warm enough after five nights of logs to forgo a night or two’s burning; and we’ve not yet resorted this winter to those awful gas heaters, which literally gas us. I know people swear by them.. but I think they are going to be a death knell at some point to someone. Choice of heating is always a cost vs comfort vs safety & health equation.

  6. I don’t normally comment on blogs. I did however really enjoy reading the original authors post. I’ll go through the rest of the website. Thanks

  7. Thanks for your comment. The heating issue is a perennial problem without easy solution here in Malta and we tried to reflect this as well as some pros and cons of popular heating methods. Even with a plethora of new technologies, the choice, cost and effectiveness equation is hard to work out. Some people swear by no heating, but run dehumidifiers, which others, including architects I know, say just draws more moisture through the porous limestone. They are now expensive to run with our electricity prices. Thank goodness this last winter was mild, though we will pay the price for a water shortage now this summer!

  8. I know I am awfully late with this, but if anyone is still reading any of these comments, I just have to say how much I enjoyed the article.
    I must admit, being from Scandinavia, that I find the coldest months in the winter almost unbearable indoors. It is SUCH a paradox, that outdoors we are hardly ever cold, but INDOORS we are freezing! If only the building style here was similar to Northern Europe! With the combination of the lovely,mild Maltese winters and comfortable,insulated Nordic houses, it would be a perfect place to live!!!

  9. Maria, I know! I’ve been wishing for that impossible combo of luxuries for 16 years! I am just about to contemplate putting a new room on my old house, and wondering if technology has moved on enough to give me the winter heating I need, and insulation. It will have 4 exterior walls – so I am none to happy about freezing or baking! If I come across the ultimate answer, I’ll post it here! Luckily, this year, 2010, it’s nice and warm still in Malta at end November.

  10. […] And when all the above fail to entice, then we in Malta are in the unique position of being able to do what our counterparts in Northern Europe do – retreat indoors, bemoan the cold and light a fire (we don’t have central heating so it’s wood, electric, paraffin, gas). In Malta though, perhaps we do get the best of winters! But do see our lessons learnt on heating a house in Malta in winter! […]

  11. […] are feeling chilled to the bone – well, inside our houses anyway as it’s always tricky heating up our limestone igloos. So, it’s time to indulge with a half day somewhere warm and get a fix of wellness treatments […]

  12. […] Be aware of the lack of central heating as it does get cold here in Malta in the winter and we were quite shocked at the idea of placing a […]

  13. Has anyone used “electric oil filled radiators”? We live in Greece at the moment and have used these in the past, didn’t find them particularly expensive to run.

  14. Does anyone know a company with reasonable pricing that does residential underfloor heating? I’ve searched the web and came with just a couple of names. And what is the cost of that? Any info is appreciated!

  15. Janet, the guy who I quoted in the article might help out with the name of the co he used. I’ll ask him and get back to you.

  16. Hi Elizabeth, I would appreciate that company name. I am still searching for information, Maltese companies seems almost inaccessible online.

  17. Janet,
    Here goes – the company a close friend used. It is online. Good luck!

    ThermoNetz® Malta
    HPS Trading Ltd.
    23, Triq San Dwardu, Vittoriosa BRG 9033
    The Specialist for Under Floor Heating
    Phone: (+356) 21667635
    Mobile: (+356) 79268451

  18. Thank you!

  19. Our pleasure. Wish you luck with it. Sadly not something I can put in our house as would mean digging up everything at great expense. But if you’re starting out afresh and mid works, definitely worth a try. The commentator in the piece on heating said he’s happy with the ambient warmth which takes that damp chill off, but just don’t expect piping warmth rising higher – you’ll still need those layers but not having the aura of damp will be a bonus no doubt! Not looking overly forward to winter – 3 months to go before post Xmas the worst – Jan-March. Though the late spring this year, 2011, meant it was a bit uncomfy inside till far later I found.

  20. anyone knows were to get an Outdoor Gas heater from in Malta ?

  21. Don’t know about functionality and ‘great’ but try Home Direct on the San Gwann industrial estate, or perhaps Homemate in Mriehel.

  22. I am utterly diappointed in this small rock,much money is being spent on unworthy things around the island but a system to make your house habitable and cosy in the winter and you can stay a night in ,watching the rain and snuggle…that will only be a dream,whereas,it does not have to be a luxury to own central heating,why?? EVerywhere in europe they have it,either with gas or oil.all they need to do is equip your house with a main supply of gas that is all….and it will cost less than Arriva for sure

  23. But politically speaking its a nation for the government not a government for the nation….always like that…

  24. Hi I have nearly tried all the heating systems above, but none compare with the actual central heating. I lived for a couple of months in Australia and they had a wonderful system installed. A sort of a big water heater in the garage and small vents in the skarting around all the rooms. Its so nice and warm. I have a solar water heater installed and am wondering if it can be used in some way to heat the house during the winter time. Anyone knows of people installing central heating in Malta. Thanks.

  25. Lino, I couldn’t agree more; nothing beats central heating, I write, as my right hand freezes to the mouse! I did once have a kerosene heater (Japanese, digital settings) that could heat one room to central heating standards but sadly it went Kaput after 2 years and the shop I got it from here in Malta had closed down, so I have no idea how to get it mended. Sadly, as it was the near-best to central heating I’ve come across in 18 winters in Malta. Thanks for posting and no, for those living in colder climes thinking we’re moaning, Maltese winters aren’t short or bearable inside our houses. Try one and see!

  26. What a fantastic page made great reading + my fingers are now blue!!.after living here for 30yrs my advice is invest in thermal undies and socks and simply layer up.Get rid of the open plan start investing in doors and get yourself a nice cosy room and place a small heater of your choice for a while and relax with your lovely soft fleece .

  27. Lynn,
    Just what I do – one room as hot as you can get it; with laptops and home wifi decamping to that one room is possible! Thermals – someone else I know recommended them recently, said that M&S in Malta do a good trade in them. Not gone down that route yet, but can see it coming. Thermals not what they were in the 1970s I guess – all thick stuff that won’t go in the washing machine!

  28. Hi Elizabeth, a short update to my inquiries from few months ago – I ended up using the company recommended above and installed underfloor heating. It works really well and does exactly what’s described – quietly produces dry heat, evenly distributed. I can’t say the running costs so far – I have to receive the bill for the past month yet and haven’t used the heating for very long. The complete installation is expensive and depends on the total area of your house. For some reason it’s considered new in Malta and some companies I contacted (1) give sky-high quotations; (2) are not able to explain properly what the heating is all about – installation and all. Anyway, if not for the installation costs (and upcoming electricity charges) I would recommend it highly. Cheers to everyone suffering from cold.

  29. Janet, thanks for your kind update on the underfloor heating. I would love to go down that route but ripping up a vast amount of old stone and tile flooringwoud be impossible in my old house. I await with interest your findings when the bill comes in! I hope it’s reasonable and justifies the heating expenses. It’s so difficult to know really, in advance. At least you’re enjoying a dry overall warmth while I shivver in damp with the odd blast of those wheely gas heaters!

  30. Did anyone try heating with a convection balanced flue gas heater?

    Should have about the same efficiency as the portable gas heaters. Without the smells, the oxygen loss and the moisture.

  31. Jacob, I’ve not heard of that system. It would depend on the gas supply – are you still talking bottled gas here? There are larger bottles available, but I’ve not heard of them being used in a flu-based system. Anyone know?

  32. Yes, it is possible with the standard gas bottles. The bottle can stay outside. Could it really be that this system has not been tested in Malta?
    The fireplace guy told me, he never installed the system and did not really know why …..price, zhe need for a hole in the wall?
    My grandparent use to heat their house in Holland with it. In Holland it was common in the 60/70’s.

  33. Interesting article. I have lived here for nearly 4 years and this is the coldest I’ve been. And yes, indoors is really cold. People just don’t believe it. I also had 10 years here as a child, but I only remember the hot, sunny days! Please, if anyone knows of a trustworthy central heating company????

  34. Jo,
    Nostalgia always makes us see things differently! In my 18 years here, I have to say I remember the early 5 years or so being very mild winters, balmy even. The last 5 not so. Or perhaps as I get older, I just can’t take the damp anymore. But, since all Europe is having an exceptional cold snap right now, some of it filters across the Med to us, still cold, despite the sea warming it a little. Central heating? That’s wishful thinking for most of us!

  35. Just came across this website.. and the running commentary. I installed oil-fired central heating in my house in 1992 but had to learn a great deal about installation myself as there were few people who had much experience and the prices quoted then for a fully functioning system were horrendous: some LM5000 (12,500 euro). So I had a UK company design an installation for me, and specify all the components down to the last ‘T’ compression joint, bought all the components plus a fully detailed working installation diagram in the UK, and then installed it myself. It cost me a fraction of the locally quoted price and my system runs some 20 radiators – so a big boiler, and the costs of running heating oil is quite high (some 10 euro per day, minimum), but its worth it. You cannot live in a big old and rambling house without such a system, I had the same expenses in the UK in keeping my house warm. The problem here is 3 fold: 1. Everyone(including locals) seems to think that one has to cater for the summer not the winter (viz the most uncomfortable season is the summer- hence the air cons, rather than the winter); 2. lack of know-how (odd because CH is common in Italy, S. France , and Greece and Cyprus where I lived) and 3. very poor insulation/heat saving technologies, including traditional ones (maltese stone whilst attractive has massive disadvantages – it’s a sponge; flat roofs (no insulation whatsoever); single-paned wooden windows; soil-infill in stone walls!… )

  36. Paul,
    Thanks for your comments and how I envy your central heating. I couldn’t agree more that we’re in denial about winter happening in Malta. Just take all those tourist brochures that give the spiel about near 365 days of sunshine! Hardly a glimmer this January – Feb (I installed a solar water heater in early January and have had to boost it almost daily to give me truly hot water!).

    I have found nothing that can even come close to replicating the overall ambient heat of good central heating. I know two people who have it installed here and they said running costs seem to be around 1,600 euro to fill the tank at the start of winter (not sure of exact capacity). I doubt one tank full would have done the job this winter though, given the prolonged cold and wet.

    Just one query: are there regulations you know of about how far away or how deep an oil tank has to be in relation to a property? I assume this could be an issue, and therefore prevent a lot of us from even attempting to put it in. Let us know if you have any idea on this. Insulation is something we can do. I can feel a hurricane under my door right now! Many thanks…

  37. Interesting post Elizabeth. i currently use a gas heater to heat my home, and even though it is a good source of heat, i think that the cons heavily outweigh the cons. after doing some research i found an interesting source of heat, which is a wood pellet stove. these stoves operate automatically from a pre-fed wood pellet container. these pellets can be bought for approx eur7 each 15kg bag. the good thing is that a 14k stove will be able to melt your house. and the bad thing is that these stoves can cost around 2000-4000 eur. one last thing that i want mention is that these stoves only need a small chimney to get rid of carbon monoxide, thus making these stoves available for appartment owners without roof accesss

  38. Mark,
    Interesting indeed. The cost would warrant the outlay if a homeowners know they will be staying put for a good few years. I paid Lm 400 (euro 900 approx) for a regular wood-burning, standalone cast iron stove. It uses a bag of logs a night almost, if on for say 5 hours. I am therefore wondering how long the pellets last and whether one can dampen the stove down at night to keep it in, slow burn as it were. My father in the UK had one that took hexagonal brickets / coals that were able to stay glowing all night for base ambient heat and then stoked up and a log added on top to give flames when one wanted, evenings for instance. I’ve not come across that combo here. Does the pellet stove offer a real fire experience or is it more a functional stove? And is it a one room only affair or can you run any form of central heating off it? If you’ve a link to a local supplier, do post it here, so we can all take a look. Thanks for the added info – the comments are growing and proving a good resource!

  39. Elizabeth it not really what you are after, and freight might be high, but kerosene heaters are available fr international sales here: Rgds

  40. Hi Martin,
    Thanks for your help on this perennial issue of warmth in a country in denial of winter! I’ve got a Kerosene heater that looks pretty similar to the one on your link above. It worked a treat for two winters and really was the nearest warmth to central heating (in the room it was in it was bliss!). But, it broke down, needs servicing and the shop we got it from has since closed down! It’s a digital one. I’ve not used it in four years. Any ideas who can service them in Malta anyone? It’s a Japanese make.

  41. Thanks liz for all the interesting info. We are currently looking at buying a plot of land and building our own house and heating is one of my priorities. We were advised to go for underfloor heating in the bathrooms but the rest of the house to run on airconditioners that would all be connected to one outside fan unit. Was told the fan unit would be expensive as a special one to run all airconditioner units but would cost to run as if only one unit was being used. Seems a good idea for summer re the cooling but as someone else mentioned in my experience they don’t heat well and cool back down as soon as switched off. May go for underfloor heating everywhere and the airconditioner unit for the summer unless someone comes up with a better idea. It seems whatever you do initial outlay is the biggest expense but hopefully saves on running costs. Of course as you said these options are only available if you are building or renovating as too much expense and difficulty to do to existing property. Whichever we go for I want to be warm as like you I find the winters too cold inside and after 24 I’m fed up. This winter too cold and started feeling rhumatism in my shoulders, had to buy a heat pad to make the pain bearable.

  42. Adele,
    I do know that underfloor seems to at least take the chill off, if not quite zap temperatures up to a really comfortable ambient warmth for sitting. I have always eschewed putting on aircons in the winter for the very reasons you mention though a lot of people do run them (at what expense?) to heat. The fact that once they are off, the room is immediately cold again, puts me off bothering. I find the ugly wheely gas (and they do!) heaters do the same job (with immediate chill once off) but at less cost. After 18 winters, I am certainly beginning to ‘feel it in my bones’ and damp maritime climates with constant rain from Nov – probably end March this year, are taking their toll on my outlook on life here! If you do find the optimum solution, do post it here. I won’t have the luxury of building from scratch, but as Paul Sant Cassia said earlier in this thread, limestone might look pretty but it’s a useless building material. Good luck with your build and search for heat! I can’t help thinking that the Romans had underfloor heating 2000 years ago! OK, with slave labour stoking it!

  43. When one considers that for every kg of hydrocarbon fuel, be it paraffin, kerosene or gas (LPG), that one burns, a litre of water vapour is generated I think it is insane for anyone to even consider an unflued heating source which just churns out mainly poisonous carbon monoxide, dioxide and water. The wood pellet is not only carbon neutral but at around €6 a sack is the safest and most economical way to heat our damp homes. Even pellet boilers make more sense than any gas or oil fired ones. As for the convenience of the pellet stove, well since it is perfectly safe to operate you can set it to turn itself on anytime of day or night for as long as you want to find the whole house toasty and dry.

  44. Mario,
    Good points. I don’t like the idea of gas heaters – moisture producing and gassy after a short period on! The Kindle Heaters you refer to seem a good option. How much of a house can they heat? Particularly older character houses in Malta which are round a courtyards and have odd room layouts.

  45. A 13kW pellet stove which (if you ll allow me) can be viewed on has two warm air outlets and can heat around 300 cubic metres easily enough. With a 7kw I manage to heat three bedrooms and a bathroom and the wall insulatin isn’t that great. For a large rambling home with a central courtyard we normally would install multiple stoves or a pellet boiler and central heating.

  46. Mario,
    We’ll allow you! The more facts and prices in the thread here the better at this stage I feel, as it gives people something to go on. Seems like you are talking from personal experience heating your own place so that’s important. Thanks for contributing.

  47. Price ranges of Kindel pellet stoves are as Mr Borg wrote from €2000 to €4000 depending on power output and model style and the price of a 15kg sack of wood pellets ranges from €5.75 to €9 depending on supplier and quality. Ours cost €6 including free delivery.

  48. Mario, thanks for this. The last question I suppose would be about annual maintenance and related costs. Of course, individual householders would need to consult you to work out what capacity stove they’d need.

  49. Very interesting read and informative indeed, I just had a salesman over today from a local seller Il Camino of B’kara for a consultation/quotation for one of these modern stove/fireplace that you’re mentioning for my appartment . A friend of mine had just installed one (7/8 Kw pellet type) and I am told that they are very effective and produce a lovely (dry)warmth. The downside is, that their cost prohibitive. I was given a quote of 4500 euros for a gas type in my case which is quite a hefty outlay for me right now and I am afraid I have to resort for the mobile ones for the time being, (the LPG Wheely type) which I also dislike for the reasons already mentioned, having said that, I am still interested to purchase one in the near future when my finances allow as I cannot bear this damp cold much longer !

  50. Steve,
    Thanks for chipping in on the thread. I am going to have to defer for your reasons. The cost of those wood pellet stoves is high. In my case, I can’t see it heating more than a localised room (in an old house wending around a courtyard) so it’s hard to imagine splashing out 4 grand for a stove to heat one or two rooms. A flat might see it work more effectively. But, I have vowed, even if it happens to be a mild winter next year, that this is my last freezing and feeling totally miserable in Malta. Something heating wise has to go in before next November latest in my place!

  51. What’s the point in heating your home in anyway if the heat just allowed to escape. The homes here need insulation, and not just on the roof, like most other European Countries where there are insulation levels required by law on external and internal walls, floors and roofs. It is a false economy to heat otherwise, you might aswell be trying to heat the outside. Other improvements that should be demanded on all new builds is double glazing, well fitting windows with no drafts and appropriate ventilation, not a hole in the wall behind a grate. Insulation also has as much benefits in the summer…it’s crazy it’s not a priority here. In the meantime roll on march and beyond!

  52. C. Ross, exactly, well put! I’ve got to deal with rising damp from a leaking well (walls are green in my house in parts), and badly made wooden doors and windows which don’t fit either in dry or wet seasons! Just two of myriad jobs to do before any heating has a chance of working! Limestone sponges just can’t work, can they?!

  53. Not sure what the gripe of intial cost is all about really. A 7kW pellet stove costs under €2000 and will warm three bedrooms easily. The elctricity cost saving per year compared to electric heating is around €400. Maintenance of such a stove is a daily clean with an ash vacuum. However before splashing out on any such heating system it is well worthwhile to first insulate the home.

  54. Indeed, I concur with these gentlemen highlighting the importance of insulation as the first step action as we often overlook this important issue when tackling the bitter cold as very well explained by Mr.Ross. To Mr.Bonello, it is not a question of ‘gripe’ (initial cost) let’s face it, these days not everyone is a position in dishing out…. in my case, 4500 euros outlay, as I’ve just carried urgent work in my flat and as I said I will consider such an investment in the future. My Point is, that they are ridiculously expensive, even The Installer/Seller himself confirmed it to myself. Anyway, let’s stick to the subject. However, if anyone is it to embark in purchasing any of the systems mentioned do consult before committing yourself as most of the outlets offer free on site consultation on what suits your requirements

  55. I think Steve C says it clearly; it’s a large outlay all at once. I don’t heat using aircons blasting so can’t compare any potential savings of pellet stoves over electricity bills. It’s is perhaps a choice thing – if one has the dosh, then it does seem a more comfortable way to heat. I would take Steve C’s advice though and go for some good, comparative consultancy. I would think there’s a huge difference between heating a regular shaped flat or house with pellet stoves to heating an odd-shaped character house that goes round a courtyard. The latter might well need 3 stoves if one wants to heat the right parts of the house all winter and come close to replicating central heating. I can’t see one stove doing the job. Also, the running costs are simply impossible to compare as it depends on how long one has them on, how far a certain number of kilos of fuel go when heating for whatever period etc. It boils down to simply affording the comfort. If money’s no object, then pellet stoves all the way if the blurb is to go by.

  56. Well Liz….I am using the aircons also, come what may ! (Not capriciously though) This winter is the first time that I have really felt the cold and I am not one who likes to don a lot of clothes on. Back to what we were saying…. Yes, you are right, do shop around and compare, that’s what I am doing now as I been told that the prices vary considerably from one outlet to another, depending on the brand and other variables too.

  57. […] blossom out and temperatures definitely rising, this year has been a cold blip par excellence! Our heating a house in Malta in winter post has been tops for the past couple of months, and for good reason.  Now, we’re clinging […]

  58. I’m thinking of having a gas fireplace installed, with a flue for getting rid of the fumes and the vapour. So far I’ve been told that the fireplace would heat as much as 2-3 gas heaters but use the fuel of one. Does anyone have experience with them? I just know that I cannot take another winter like this.. and this is my 32nd on the island. I so prefer the cold of the north, there it is the right way around, cold out but warm inside! Family and friends cannot understand the need for fleece sheets and quilts by the dozen..

  59. Mikaela,
    I don’t have experience of the fixed sort but remember calling in at local well-known house appliance retailer and they said what you mentioned. I can concur that the winters get worse (as we get older!) and like you, with a good number of winters behind me (18 though) in Malta and with last one truly horrendous, I’ve also been heard uttering I can’t do another like this one! If anyone can weigh in on the effectiveness (not salesperson speak) of the fixed gas heaters, please do!

  60. I hope someone will confirm/deny the sale spiel I got! I got similar answers in the two shops I visited so there might be something in it. They are not cheap to install, but as we are doing up the living room I thought it might be worth it. We can always camp out in the living room the next cold winter! I wish I’d known about insulation when we built the house….

  61. Hi, we have a terraced house and this year we have installed a wood burning stove in the living room. We are quite happy with it but the initial cost is a bit high (about 2500 euros). As someone above wrote, we have transferred everything to the living room, TV, laptops, wireless, etc. We are even having our dinner there. Both my husband and I work, and our son is still at school, so we use the stove in the evenings only. The room is quite large, about 32 square metres and the stove warms it up quite nicely and we don’t have to wear layers of clothes, even a t-shirt will do. Buying wood is expensive, as it does consume quite a lot, but, on the other hand, some people are willing to give you wood that they have for free. We have our bedroom on top of the living room, and we passed the chimney through there as well, and in the process the bedroom gets warm as well (not as warm as the living room) and when we go upstairs to sleep, the bedroom is warm already. We have fleece sheets and we have never switched on the electric blanket this winter. The only drawback is that is arrive at home late, there is no time to use the stove as it takes some time to warm up the room. The big drawback in certain Maltese houses is that they were built on an open-plan design and so you cannot warm them up. But we installed a door from the living room to the corridor and our stove has made this winter bearable.

  62. Hi all, I need you
    We bought a flat in malta and we have a little girl of one year old!!
    This flat was owned by a couple who told us that is really healthy and not humid at all but with the winter we saw that was not true and now we don t know what to do to solve this problem We are feeling always sick and coughing all the time, with big issue in our bedroom i wash every single day but it comes back
    Apparently the contractor is responsible for this but of course he said that not and he doesn t want to do anything…
    If anyone has any ideas about what to do?please HELP
    any ideas about cheap work we can do in it to solve this problem…
    thank you

  63. Emma,
    I empathise with you. A really awful situation to be in especially with a young child. There is no doubt that damp causes all sorts of recurrent ill health issues including sinusitis, asthma, allergic reaction, colds and coughs that never cease all winter. I’ve been suffering too since January with ongoing health issues – my house is old and does have various ‘green’ areas on the walls. The simply truth is that new-build or old-build, houses in Malta, lacking overall, constant central heating, will always be humid and have varying degrees of evident damp. I have no idea what you can do. I’ll ask around some in the facilities management and legal sectors to see if they know of legal recourse and/or practical measures you can take to alleviate the damp, at least in time for next winter! If anyone reading has some useful pointers to help Emma, please add!

  64. For under-floor or central heating installations (gas or electricity) in old and new houses, you can contact the above. Experienced Mechanical Engineer who has worked on many projects. Fantastic service.

  65. I imagine your thoughts about winter have long been shelved. But it’s a cold day here in our island home of Tasmania, down in the Southern Ocean, so I can entirely empathise. The problem with traditional Maltese dwelling design is too much thermal mass (exposed masonry) in relation to the heat input in colder months. This effectively ‘sucks’ the heat out of rooms, and makes heating hard to do. Blowing warm air around (using fan heaters and reverse cycle air-conditioners) creates the unpleasant effect of the air being warmer than the room surfaces. Temperature differentials can also create considerable moisture build up. Yet, thermal mass works well if there is enough heat to “feed” it, as it acts like a heat retaining battery. Trouble is, the cost of doing it. In summer, thermal mass tempers heat spikes and draws heat away, making rooms pleasantly cool. But, if the heat is greater than the proportion of mass, walls gradually become too warm. This leads to a sweat box effect that lasts days after the outside temperature drops.
    So what’s the solution? Well, one approach is to create false ceilings and walls of lightweight materials (like plasterboard or timber) with insulating foam or insulating batting between. Do this in selected areas and you can create rooms that are much more comfortable to live in winter. It might seem strange, but it will definitely save you money and increase your comfort levels. There are other options of course. But that’s the simplest I know of. All the best to every one of you!

  66. This is a very interesting and informative post. What I would like to ask maybe someone can help is what are the differences between a log wood burning stove and a wood pellet stove? Can a wood pellet stove also have logs into it? From what I can read these are the most effective ways of heating a house and I am planning to get something installed before next winter. Thanks

  67. Any efficient heating and cooling WILL need insulation.
    Insulation on the outside is ok, but to obtain full and fast control of your interiors, you need to insulate your rooms.
    Since nobody on Malta builds houses with energy efficiency nor temperature comfort in mind, almost every solution will be a half baked reto fit job.
    The very best solution to insulation in Malta is rockwool or foam insulant behind gypsum board, circa 50 to 100 mm thickness.
    You can begin to think about heating or cooling your home after insulating your rooms roofs and walls in this manner.
    Floor heating is best ( electric or otherwise). You will of course then need to insulate the ground with polyurethane foam and install synthetic floor material on top.
    Yes it will cost some money.
    you might want to spend your cash on sofas and other tacky kitsch if you are so disposed.
    Its your choice.

  68. I am planning to move to Malta next year. I have always been fully aware that heating is required during the winter months and I have been very interested to read about the various solutions put forward here. As I shall be renting, I won’t have much freedom to choose waht to do. However, I was interested in the comments regarding reverse cycle air conditioners: my understanding is that they only consume about one third of the energy they give out in heat, and are described as one of the more efficient methods of converting energy ( from any source). The effects felt when they stop is common to any form of blown air heating system. I have a gas fired hot air system in my house here in the UK.
    I have noticed that many new houses here in the UK now instal underfloor heating provided by a heat pump with the heat source being the ground outside which has absorbed all the heat of the summer sun. This is also a very efficient form of heating and works on the same principle as reverse cycle air conditioning. But, insulation is the key to the efficiency of all systems and the need for maintaining comfortable conditions both in winter and summer has to be taken into account during the design stage of all new houses in Malta.

  69. Perhaps we need to keep in mind that Enemalta is studying the possibility of converting to natural gas…I believe that would mean being able to use natural (as opposed to bottled/LPG) gas as a fuel for our heating – I understand that this is commonly used as a fuel for central heating abroad.

  70. I wish they already had natural gas! ow do you get them to deliver gas cilinders? cant find anything on that on the liquid gas malta site. I’m desperate, the truck never comes at the given times which happen to be in the middle of my work shift!!

  71. Mikel,
    I understand your stress over this! In my village, the ‘gasman’ is parked up every Saturday morning and we can go to him (cylinder in car boot) to get a refill if we miss him calling in the week. I would ask around your neighbours, locals shopkeepers etc, to see if a similar system operates where you live. That personal way of doing things is probably the best. Otherwise, call the contact number on the gas site and see what you can find out. It’s always a hassle this blessed gas bottle delivery! Good luck. Anyone any other ideas to help Mikel? Please add a comment. Thanks.

  72. re wood burning stoves… i saw one in practice this week in an apartment…. the heat was infernal after a few minutes…the owners said that having used it for the past month, it has dried the air inside so there is much less humidity…

  73. I have a woodburning stove, in an old farmhouse; it heats one room, so I guess it must be more effective in an apartment. Trouble is that the wood burns like matchsticks, in no time, so you end up spending a lot for one evening’s localised heat.

  74. I am so gld I hve read this.
    My husband wants to move somewhere warmer so I willl now be looking for well heated accomodation, instead of putting a pool as priority
    Thanks to all

  75. @Kathrine,
    Glad you found some food for thought in this post and in the running commentary, which grows week by week in winter! Maltese houses – modern or old – tend to be very chill in winter (damp maritime climate, no proper heating) so you would be wise in your accommodation search if you are thinking of Malta to look long and hard at things like heating. Points to note: aircons won’t be a good answer as are expensive to run and tend to leave rooms cold the moment they are off; open-plan will mean no doors to stop drafts and keep heat in one room at least; large swathes of glass, which leave you cold, create condensation etc; and layout of the house – you might manage to vent up some heat from a ground floor room; and then there are things to think of like prevailing winds, high walls around which create wind tunnels…and all manner of other issues! The pool might be lovely but as we had a mozzy plague this autumn (really nasty ones), open water sources can create problems too – and provide a chill factor come winter months though you can drain them then. Assume you need to heat from Dec – end March (not every day, but most evenings, and some periods can be particularly difficult to be comfortable in (it rained almost every day this year Jan-Feb). Good luck and I hope this won’t put you off Malta, but some people do mistakenly believe that our winters are blazing hot too! So don’t ditch the electric blanket when you move here!

  76. […] but in Malta, by evening, temps start to chill and we’re lighting fires (or turning on those portable gas heaters!), cracking open a bottle, and filling houses with the aroma of mulled wine and making merry. Our […]

  77. […] but in Malta, by evening, temps start to chill and we’re lighting fires (or turning on those portable gas heaters!), cracking open a bottle, and filling houses with the aroma of mulled wine and making merry. Our […]

  78. I’ve lived in the UK since 1980. I recently (mid Jan 2013) spent 10 days at my brothers house in north of Malta. I’ve never ever came anywhere near feeling as frozen as I did in Malta! Wake up people. It’s 2013!!! You need to trap any heating in by good insulation and avoiding heat loss through cracks and vents. Simple physics. Whatever it costs to insulate you’ll get back through savings. That’s why we’re warm in UK. Mind you Scotch always helps:-))

  79. Well heated accomodation seems hard to find ..Anyone with experience of hotel heating in winter? Comment please.At what level could you be sure of good heating,2 3 or 4star?

  80. Hi,
    one quick calculation with actual prices GAS vs Electricity (heat-pump).
    I calc with A/C with heat-pum with COP for heating at 3.5 (its an average in new models)
    Gas: 10kg Bottle/20E, 13kWh/kg = 0.153E/kWh of heating
    with 25kg Bottle/37E, 13kWh/kg = 0,114E/kWh of heating
    Electricity: 0.173E/kWh with COP of 3.5 you get 0.05E/kWh of heating

    Gas + low cost device to burn it
    + infra-red part of heating (best comfort)
    – price
    – handling
    – safety
    A/C heatpump
    + easy to use
    + long ter economic eficiency
    – heats only air (no IR spectrum)

    If U use a heat pump that is into water that is the best but expansive…

    your coments ?

  81. After reading this interesting thread i thought would contribute since there were questions regarding pellet stoves.

    We built our house almost 4 yrs ago now and we pondered heating for a long time seeing that we were moving to Rabat which we can confirm lives up to its reputation of being the coldest village in Malta!

    We chose a pellet stove for the following reasons:

    1) it runs on environmentally friendly fuel (the composite of woods that make up the pellets burn efficiently and cleanly) 4 yrs late i remain impressed at how clear the smoke that comes out of the chimney actually is!
    2) the hot air that comes into the house is free of soot. I suffer from hayfever and allergies in general…my husband has asthma. This also has proven to be true. I usually sneeze a lot in the presence of an open fire!

    3) I can fill the tank with enough pellets to leave it burning unattended for hours and hours so when we get home after a day out the house is still toasty and warm!

    4) the model we liked runs a second pipe which splits further to warm up the bedrooms. You can decide on a percentage of heat to transfer to the bedrooms and another to keep in the main area of the house.

    5) the control panel lets you program 7days of the week of switching on/off as you please.

    6) the electricity consumption is quite low (ill check if someone wants to know exactly)

    we spent a total of Eur 5000 to purchase and install the stove but we chose the largest model because we have an open plan house with open stairs.The leaflet on our stove says it was intended to heat spaces of around 200sqm. Our house is 75sqm x 2.5 floors and it works well!

    The running costs currently stand at approx Eur 8 per 24hrs but this price should drop over the yrs as these models are growing in poplularity and the importers can start ordering more and more sacks of pellets.

    I clean it every 8-9 days with a vacuum for the soot and wipes to clean the glass which gets black again after a couple of hours of running. You have to let the unit get stone cold before cleaning it but the house remains warm just the same.

    As with all stoves the soot that gathers on the glass hides the flame 2-3 hrs after switching it on! My mum’s log burning stove reacts the exact same way so i’m afraid ppl who want to see the fire are going to be disappointed!!

  82. Monique,
    Thank you so much for contributing this insightful comment on pellet stoves, and from someone with a good few years experience of how these things work (and work well it seems). I am now pondering whether it will suit a farmhouse (less open plan) dwelling and how the pipes would run (hopefully not too unsightly) around the place to heat rooms around a courtyard! On the basis of your views though I will see about investigating it before next winter. Although, we’re just edging into peak summer now, I always kick myself for not sorting out heating issues in the summer months. We do tend to live for the weather of the moment in Malta, but I for one need to sort heating out before next Jan-March period! Thanks again for your kind contribution here.

  83. Sleyo,
    Quite some calculations there! Thanks for your kind input. Anyone have alternatives or concur?

  84. Hello Elizabeth and all correspondents!

    This is brilliant but nobody commented on the use of oil filled radiators! Are they not available in Malta? I believe them to be economical, mobile and not hugely costly to buy. Do any of you have any experience of them in a Maltese winter?
    I’m thinking of moving to Malta next year and would really value your thoughts.
    Very warm wishes!!!

  85. Pamela,
    The oil-filled radiator was the first type of heating I had when I moved here years ago. Yes, it is moveable, and in small spaces it can work well. But remember, it is run on electricity, and eats that like nobody’s business, so relying on these radiators is not a good idea! In fact, I got rid of mine. Good luck with the move here. And if property hunting – whether renting or buying – do take a good look at the house / flat layout. Open plan not a good idea for winter warmth. You need at least one room you can close doors on and keep heating on all the time!

  86. I have been looking online at a ‘house of character’ with cellar, ground, 1st and 2nd floor piled on top of each other. Big old stone walls but no heating to be seen! Access to all floors is by a spiral staircase. This is must be in a terrace of houses…do you have any wisdom on the efficacy of heat retention. Earlier posts have made comment that the stone loses heat quickly…would this happen in a terrace?

    I live in Greece at the moment where the winters too are quite chilly but the Greeks do build new houses with oil fired central heating. Oil looks to be cheaper in Malta as does electricity. What would be the average electricity bill monthly over a year for a two bedroom terrace? Do you or any of your correspondents have a rough idea?

    Warm wishes Pamela

  87. Pamela,
    I doubt oil is less expensive in Malta, and unless you are building your own house, I doubt you will find a place the size you’re looking for that has oil-fired central heating installed. I know three families in large places (2 are detatched and in the countryside) that have oil-fired heating, and the third had it installed when renovating extensively their inner village farmhouse. I have not heard of new build apartments or the regular town house with oil heating – most rely on blasting aircons in single rooms.

    As to stone houses losing heat quickly, there might be marginal difference if you have adjacent walls but I doubt you’ll notice the insulation factor. I have two empty houses either side of mine and they’d not be heated enough if there were residents to make any difference. It’s the damp and moisture that make you shiver and feel cold, not just the actual temperature. So check about ventilation (ideally open windows and doors each day to air whatever the season!). And buy a dehumidifier – some swear more by those than heating. I don’t know about electricity bills. It would depend on how much you run those aircons! Factor in 200 Euros a month for water and electricity, I would think.

    Here is some info that might help compiled by an expat action group about discrimination of EU nationals on utlity tariffs here in Malta.

    Residential’ versus ‘domestic’ water and electricity consumption tariffs.
    The much more expensive ‘domestic’ water and electricity bills show Zero number of residents registered at the top right hand corner of your bill.
    To compare and contrast both, simply click on the following internet links:
    Facebook: Class Action against ARMS Ltd:

  88. You are fabulous Elizabeth!!! Thank you!

  89. Our pleasure here at MIO – we run voluntarily, but try to help where we can!

  90. Perhaps if your houses were built from lumber (wood), then you would find them both easier to heat, keep dry, and stay warm inside them by using electric heating, or oil fired central heating, just as we do in Canada. That or get a hot blooded Canadian to snuggle up to, both in your lounge and in bed. They are the best thing since sliced bread, so I have been told. You don’t know what cold is until you have lived through a Canadian winter in the mountains of British Columbia. Canada.

  91. Doug,
    Quick reply is that we don’t have ‘lumber’ in Malta! That ran out in prehistory! Knights had to have timber imported to build ships, if they built them in Malta at all. And we don’t have oil-fired heating either. I had Canadian neighbours a couple of winters ago and they said they’d never been as cold in a house ever as they were in here in Malta!

  92. Have you heard of infrapower heating panels? They are pioneers within the heating world. If you have never heard of them here is a link These will help heat the house as well as conserving your energy consumption and help eliminate mould and mildew on walls of floors. I currently live in malta and am looking to import these panels. I think they could work great here.

  93. Also If you have any additional information that could help me in the introduction and implementation of my business plan that would be great. I know these heating systems are going to provide a crucial service, one that is especially suited to this island.

  94. ?

  95. Try making a room heater (or three of them if needed) via the ago old method of using plain old brown, unglazed flower pots. One needs to fit inside the other with a gap of around 1cm between them. Have a 5″ bolt with 4 washers to suit. Place washer on bolt, insert it from underneath through hole of largest pot, place pot upside down so you can see the bolt coming through. Place another washer on it and then screw the nut down to the washer. Place another washer on top of the bolt, insert same bolt through hole of smaller pot, place washer on bolt, screw another nut onto the bolt. Both pots are now securely fastened, with a space between and around both pots. They don’t touch each other. Using a fireproof dish/metal bread tin or something similar, place four tea lights inside it. Place dish/bin with candle onto a fireproof surface. The surface needs to be large enough so that the pots can be placed over the candles, yet rest on the fireproof surface so that when the candles are lit, the convected heat can heat the flower pots and they act like a small cooker to heat the air in your home. This method is also shown on utube – and it works! It is also cheap. You can get cheap tea lights from the T’Lira shop ….. it’s a damn sight cheaper than using either gas or electricity!

  96. Yes Tina, it can work, but it does come with words of warning. Not only those relating to not leaving a naked flame unattended. Here’s a link to a video of how to build one, but if you read the Daily Mail comment thread below the video, and also the comments on the original YouTube video, you will see how users fared with their version and also be able to read the cautions. One commenter said try wearing wool-based longjohns (ie. wear more, burn less polluting fuels, tea lights or whatever). Remember tea lights can be made of fossil fuel paraffin wax (emissions) and palm oil wax (environmental issues re harvesting palm oil). And it won’t heat many a large, open-plan Maltese room.

  97. Omg, i thought i am in a wrong apartment, but aparently everybody is suffering from a cold places. I have three socks, two pants and 3 sweaters on me and still not feeling warm. moved here 2 months ago, it was so nice and then suddenly has changed.

    How much would it cost to run the dehumidifier for a month? does anybody has information about that?

    I have noticed that after i take shower in the bathroom is way colder, so probably that stuff would help.

  98. Luka,
    Ah, the myth of the Med being warm all year round! I usually freeze from now til end March at least. Even if outdoor temps are higher than N Europe, inside is perishingly damp and chill once the rain sets in. I’ve not found any optimum answer to the cold, after 20 winters here! Plus ca change! Post on our Facebook page re the dehumidifier query. An architect did tell me though not to bother with one as with limestone walls (and breeze blocks), you just suck in more damp air from outside, so it’s a never-ending cycle and your elec bill is far higher! But I know people who swear by them.

  99. altough it is quite an expense, replacing single with double glazed windows/doors helps to insulate the house. secondary glazing is also available abroad, i am not sure it is here.

  100. Thanks Stefan for this info. I feel sorry for those renting here as they can’t change the place, nor make those necessary investments to help warm up their places. We get a lot of comments from newly-arrived expats in rental accommodation who mistakenly thought that Malta was warm all year round.

  101. some further research on infra red heating:

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