Warmly rec­om­mended


The best op­tions for win­ter heat­ing.


As the cold and dark of win­ter sets in, our fo­cus turns in­ward and the com­forts of home take on even greater im­por­tance. In­side, the right heat­ing source can trans­form a living space, turn­ing it into a warm and wel­com­ing spot to share, un­wind and dream. Of course, the best, most eco­nom­i­cal way to heat a house is pas­sively — “This is the ul­ti­mate, as it uses no en­ergy at all once the house has been built,” says Jes­sica Nixon of Mel­bourne in­te­rior de­sign firm Okologi. But if your home isn’t ide­ally sit­u­ated or prop­erly in­su­lated, or if you just want to turn up the heat, th­ese so­lu­tions make a good al­ter­na­tive.


If it’s am­bi­ence you’re af­ter, “noth­ing beats a real fire,” says Lesley Aitkin of tech­nol­ogy group Schott Australia. “It en­gen­ders both phys­i­cal and emo­tional warmth, and we love to gather around it with fam­ily and friends.” Once shunned as a ma­jor pol­luter, a re­cent re­port from the CSIRO (which re­vealed that burning wood ul­ti­mately pro­duces less green­house gases than other heat­ing op­tions) has helped put wood-burning fires back on the agenda. Free­stand­ing or in-built slow-com­bus­tion mod­els (th­ese are sealed with a glass door) of­fer max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency; but for pure aes­thetics, it’s hard to go past a dou­ble-sided fire­place. “Th­ese pro­vide the ad­van­tage of heat in both rooms while ex­tend­ing the spec­ta­cle of the flick­er­ing flames,” Lesley says. Not that keen to swing an axe? Get the wood de­liv­ered pre-cut and ready to burn. Mod­ern fire­places are de­signed to let fires burn eas­ily with min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion. How­ever, for true min­i­mal ef­fort, gas fires — con­sum­ing LPG or nat­u­ral gas — pro­vide in­stant and con­trol­lable heat at the flick of a switch. Once in­stalled, they’re eco­nom­i­cal to run and pro­duce less car­bon emis­sions than elec­tric heaters. An­other ben­e­fit: some mod­els can be flued through walls, pro­vid­ing greater de­sign flex­i­bil­ity. Ducted gas heat­ing is an­other good whole-of-house op­tion and can be di­rected to spe­cific zones for greater ef­fi­ciency, while re­verse cy­cle air-con­di­tion­ing works well for peo­ple living in ar­eas that ex­pe­ri­ence ex­treme sea­sonal tem­per­a­tures. Th­ese sys­tems can be split and in­stalled in living rooms and bed­rooms, where most of our time is spent, and op­er­ated by re­mote con­trol. You won’t pay more to run them as a heater, ei­ther. “most peo­ple be­lieve the heat­ing func­tion comes at an ad­di­tional cost, but run­ning it re­sults in stan­dard elec­tric­ity charges,” says Abbey Jones from home­wares man­u­fac­turer LG. The key to get­ting the best value for money is to en­sure the sys­tem is the right size for your room — a qual­i­fied in­staller can mea­sure the space and of­fer ad­vice.


Fol­low­ing the gen­eral trend over­seas, “hy­dronic heat­ing is be­com­ing more popular, as it pro­vides a gen­tle heat and is great for al­lergy suf­fer­ers, as op­posed to heat­ing sources that blow hot air,” says Jes­sica Nixon. Hy­dronic sys­tems work by cir­cu­lat­ing hot wa­ter via a net­work of pipes to out­lets such as the floor slab, un­der-floor trench con­vec­tors or fixed ra­di­a­tor pan­els.the heat pro­duced is con­sis­tent, con­trol­lable and eco­nom­i­cal, and the sys­tem can be added to as the need arises. Floor slab heat­ing is in­vis­i­ble, mak­ing it ideal for large open-plan spa­ces, while ra­di­a­tor pan­els are avail­able in a wide range of shapes and fin­ishes, mean­ing they can blend in or stand out. “hy­dronic pan­els would be my choice for a lo­calised heat source, and ob­vi­ously so­lar en­ergy is prefer­able to con­ven­tional power sources,” Jes­sica says. Bioethanol fires, which run on clean-burning methy­lated spir­its, “are an­other com­pelling al­ter­na­tive to fos­sil-fu­elled fires,” says Stephane Thomas of Ecos­mart Fire, whose range of in-built and free­stand­ing burn­ers are de­signed with good looks in mind. Bet­ter still, as Stephane says, “Be­cause they don’t need to be flued or plumbed into po­si­tion, you can have far more free­dom in designing the fire to suit your en­vi­ron­ment.” Free­stand­ing mod­els can be moved from room to room, or from in­doors to the pa­tio, mean­ing you can en­ter­tain out­doors all year round.


Look­ing for sin­gle room or on-the-spot heat­ing so­lu­tions? Ac­cord­ing to Iain Ten­nant from Har­vey Nor­man, ce­ramic heaters “are the most ef­fi­cient form of fan-based por­ta­ble heat­ing and most units fea­ture a ther­mo­stat, timer and os­cil­lat­ing func­tion”. with no flames or glow­ing parts — and some great new de­signs out there — they’re also a safe choice for bed­rooms and stud­ies. Panel and oil-filled col­umn heaters work best in larger rooms and when they are run over a longer pe­riod, while por­ta­ble gas heaters are fast and ef­fi­cient. Want the ro­mance of burning em­bers? Try an elec­tric fire. Need a so­lu­tion for the kitchen and bath­room? A heated towel rail can be enough to kill the chill in tiled ar­eas, while in the kitchen an AGA stove is well worth the in­vest­ment. “It gives off enough am­bi­ent heat to keep most kitchens warm, even in win­ter,” says Peter Ran­dell of the AGA Shop. What­ever so­lu­tion you choose, for best per­for­mance fix any draughts around doors and win­dows. “don’t waste your money heat­ing the out­side air,” warns Iain. >

The flick­er­ing flames of a Jet­mas­ter 700D wood fire, from $2150, pro­vide com­fort and warmth, and cre­ate a beau­ti­ful fo­cal point in a living area.

1. Fo­cus Emi­fo­cus wood-burning fire­place, $11,300, from Oblica El­e­gantly de­signed, this func­tions both as an open fire­place or a closed slow-com­bus­tion stove. 2. Ar­row 2000 In­built Wood Heater, $3549, from Hawkes­bury Heat­ing With a heat­ing ca­pac­ity of up to 35 square me­tres, this clas­sic wall-built fire­place in­cludes a large view­ing win­dow, three-way air in­duc­tion to im­prove com­bus­tion and an ash pan fea­ture that al­lows you to clean away de­bris even while the fire is burning. 3. LG Pre­mium 5Kw Re­verse Cy­cle Split Sys­tem, $1949 Ideal for a large living area, this re­verse cy­cle air-con­di­tioner boasts a four-star en­ergy rat­ing. 4. Urth Out­door Fire, from $1695, from Brown Jor­dan Fires This hand­crafted fi­bre ce­ment out­door fire has two heat out­put set­tings, can burn for up to 11 hours and heat as much as 20 square me­tres.the fuel is clean-burning bioethanol, so there’s no smoke, soot or ash. 5. Dyson Am09 Hot+cool Jet Fo­cus Fan, $699, from Har­vey Nor­man An ul­tra-mod­ern fan with no vis­i­ble heat­ing el­e­ments that shuts off au­to­mat­i­cally if knocked over and never gets hot enough to burn dust. 6. Ecos­mart Fire Oxy­gen Bioethanol Fire, $7900 This sleek, free­stand­ing fire­place can heat around 25 square me­tres and can be moved from room to room. 7. Kem­lan C24 Wood Heater, from $2940, from Jet­mas­ter A highly ef­fi­cient fire box that can heat around 120 square me­tres and fea­tures built-in wood stor­age, and a raised fire­box, so no more bend­ing down to stoke the flames. 8. Tri­este Cast-iron Hy­dronic Ra­di­a­tor, from $1892, from Hunt Heat­ing. A won­der­fully or­nate op­tion, this clas­sic cast-iron ra­di­a­tor fea­tures de­tailed en­grav­ing on each sec­tion and can be painted in the colour of your choice. It’s sold by the sec­tion and can be up to 25 sec­tions long. 9. Heat & Glo Mezzo 1300 See Thru Gas Fire, $11,500, from Jet­mas­ter A stream­lined, see-through gas fire that pro­vides more than enough heat to warm two rooms si­mul­ta­ne­ously, and comes with a re­mote con­trol and your choice of tex­tured logs or glass pebble dis­play. For stock­ist de­tails, see page 137.

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