The best options for winter heating.
FROM THE REHABILITATED WOOD FIRE TO THE LATEST DUCTED SYSTEM, HERE ARE 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.
GENTLY DOES IT
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.