How Norwegians Heat Their Houses

Norwegians have become very good at heating our houses efficiently, which we obviously need during the winter when it can be extremely cold in certain parts of the country.

So how exactly do Norwegians hear their houses during the winter, and what’s the best option for heating your house in Norway?

Norwegians typically use either heat pumps, a wood stove or regular electric heaters to hear their houses. The heat pumps are by far the most efficient and cheapest to use, but they are pretty expensive to install.

Wood stove
Wood stoves are still popular in Norway. Photo published with permission.

The air to air heat pump is the most popular method of heating Norwegian houses

If you want to heat your Norwegian house as cheaply as possible, consider installing a heat pump. This utilizes air to blow hot air into the house, and has a potential energy coefficient of 3 x compared to regular electrical heating. It will usually be a bit lower than the triple effect, but it is usually also well above 2 x.

The downsides to these heat pumps is that you might pay around 25,000 NOK ($2,800) to buy and install one. However, most houses will make a profit on installing it, especially if they mainly use electrical heating before.

I would say that most modern Norwegian houses and buildings have a heat pump installed, and they are very popular. They are also very good at cooling down the houses during the summer time.

Heat pump
Heat pumps are great for heating houses in the winter. Photo by ArnoldReinhold / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Older houses typically uses a lot of wood for heating

Wood stoves are far from the most efficient method of heating a house, but it’s still very popular to use regular wood to heat houses in Norway. Some claim that it’s just a lot more cozy to heat their houses with wood, while others just chop down their private trees to get “free” heating during the winter.

Using wood stoves for heating can also be a cheap option if the electricity costs are very high. It is typically cheaper to use wood during the peak of winter when the electricity is at its highest, but more expensive at the tails of the winter when the electricity typically is a bit cheaper.

One of the big benefits to using wood to heat houses is that you can buy wood upfront and have covered the cost for the entire winter beforehand, instead of getting high electricity bills.

Firewood. Photo published with permission.

Pretty much all older houses come with a wooden stove that can be used to heat the house, but it’s also pretty common for newer houses to install a wooden stove. Modern wooden stoves are far more efficient than the 50-year old stoves that are typically found in older houses, and you can typically save a lot of money in the long run by upgrading the wooden stove to a modern one.

Apartments tend to use either heat pumps or district heating

There’s plenty of apartment blocks in Norway, and these tend to either use heat pumps or a type of district heating to heat the building. If they uses heat pump, then it is common for the entire building complex to get a group buy for the heat pump, making it very affordable to install.

The district heating is called fjernvarme in Norwegian, and it is considered to be pretty cheap. District heating uses pipes that transport heat from a waste handling facility where they burn thrash to generate heat. This heat is then transported to different places using these pipes, and can usually be found in apartment complexes as well as in many public buildings.

District heating gives a nice and even heat all year long, and tend to be very cheap once it is set up. It is obviously a high cost to install the pipes for it, so most smaller apartment buildings or standalone houses won’t bother with this type of heating.

The electricity cost in Norway is at its all-time highest

Electricity cost in Norway has been at an all-time high in all of 2022, and it seem like it will keep being very high for all foreseeable future. This has lead to a bit of a shift in the heating habits of Norwegians where regular electric heating has declined in favor for more heat from wood stoves and heat pumps.

Heating your house with regular, electric heating is becoming so expensive that most people have stopped or reduced how much they use it. There were plenty of examples of families who got electricity bills for 20,000 NOK + for a single month after heating their house with regular electric heaters.

Electricity grid
Photo published with permission.

Installing heat pumps has severely reduced the time to hit even, and heat from wood was generally much cheaper then heating from electricity for the entire winter. This lead to things like most wood vendors running completely out of wood very early in the winter.

It seems unlikely that the electricity cost will go down again in 2023, but we can cross our fingers, or just stockpile a lot of firewood.

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