Heater or heating

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French France

I always get mixed up between those two words heater and heating.

What am I suppose to say when I want my friend to put the heater on ?

Should I say could you please put the heater or heating on ?

Thank you,

  • CatStar

    Senior Member
    English, Ireland
    Hey there,

    I would say Put the heater on if you want one individual radiator to heat up.

    However if you have a central heating system or something that heats the whole house then I would say Put the heating on and that would mean that the radiator in each room will heat up, not just one individual radiator.

    Hope that makes sense to you,


    Lee Sing

    Senior Member
    English from England
    It it is a single heater - put the heater on.

    If it is a heating system, such as central heating (radiators) - put the heating on.


    New Member
    English, United States
    I'd usually say "Could you please turn on the heater?", but using 'turn on' instead of 'put on' might just be an American/British English distinction. Also, I think it's technically incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition ('on'), but most English speakers don't pay attention to that rule, especially not when talking.

    The distinction between the two words though, is that the heater is the device that provides heat. Heating is the provision of heat. e.g. "This room has inadequate heating; the heater doesn't work very well." However, it might also be short for 'heating system'. This term usually refers to a system, often regulated by a thermostat or other device, that controls several heaters throughout a building. In this case it would be correct to say "Could you turn on the heating?" although "Could... the heater" could still be used. If, however, you're talking about a small space heater with its own on/off switch, 'heater' would be the only correct usage. It wouldn't count as a 'heating system'.

    One other thing: Usually, if you're using a space heater, you turn it on if you want heat and off if you don't. This means that you'll say "Could you (or 'I', or 'we' if you want to be really polite) turn on/off the heater?"

    However, if you're using a 'heating system', it is usually always on, especially during the winter. In this case you should use 'up/down' instead of 'on/off'.

    Other terms you can use when talking about a 'heating system':

    "Could you/I/we turn up/down the...

    There might be more AE/BE distinctions in usage too, but I think this covers normal Americanisms. Hope it helps, and isn't too much.



    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    In a central heating system the heater can be on but the heating is off - for example in the summer when the heater (boiler) is used only for hot water. In the autumn you have to say "turn the heating on".

    But if you have switched the heater off, for example during vacation when nobody is at home, you have to say "turn the heater on".


    Senior Member
    UK English
    Yeah but I thought most (like mine) have a "CE" "HW" button, (Central Heating/Hot Water) ... Heating implies Central Heating, nobody would think of "Water", we'd say something like "Hey John, stick the hot water on will ya?"


    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    In my boiler there's an electic switch that turns on/off the oil burner, and an adjusting valve for the central heating.

    Last summer when I went sailing I told my tenant: "If you leave for a longer time, please switch off the heater."

    A couple of weeks ago my tenant asked me: "It's becoming cold, would you please turn on the heating".


    Senior Member
    Hi Eclipse,

    I think you have some good British English answers. On this side of the pond, the following terms are all used:

    1. In regard to a specific heating device--

    Would/could you please putturn the heater on?

    2. For a central heating system, for an entire apartment/flat or house--

    Would you/could you please turn the heat on? This implies that the system is not heating the house, even if the boiler or furnace is maintaining an internal temperature.

    Would you/could you please turn the heat up? The system may be on or off, but you want the room to be warmer, and thus you request that the thermostat be adjusted.

    Could you please turn the heat up? is probably the most idiomatic, most frequently heard expression in AE.
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