Hot stuff Our go-to modern heating guide
It’s official – donning an extra jumper while the wind whistles under the door is no longer the Kiwi way. Check out our handy beginner’s guide to modern heating for today’s families
Choosing a heating type might be one of the most important decisions you make for your home. Not only could you end up saving money upfront and in the future, the right type of heater can make your family healthier and improve your quality of life.
There are a lot of variables involved with finding the best heating for your place – including climate, housing type and your budget – so it pays to do your research. We’ve rounded up some of the main pros and cons to get you started. But first…
Effective home heating starts and ends with insulation. A little money spent on insulation now will save you thousands on bills in the years to come and will create a healthier environment for you and your family.
Check the required R values (the resistance of a material or building structure to transferring heat) for your climate zone and, if you can afford it, insulate above these minimum requirements. Installing double-glazed windows and cosy carpets will maximise the health and efficiency of your home even further.
+ Very efficient + Cosy and atmospheric
+ Woodburners are cheap to run and can heat a large area + Biofuel fires burn clean, don’t need a chimney and use a green energy source + Gas and biofuel fireplaces fit a number of spaces + Gas is easy to turn on and off and provides instant heat
+ Woodburners can’t be turned on and off and surfaces can get hot + Wood needs to be stored and smoke contributes to air pollution + Woodburners may need building consent + Gas price may fluctuate; non-renewable resource + Gas usually heats only one room + Biofuel fires are not a primary heating source
Carefully calculate the heat output your home needs and do lots of research. For a woodburner, you’ll need to find out if you’re in a clean air zone or not and check emissions requirements for your area; consult your local council for help.
Location is everything for your fire but there are also options out there for all types of homes. Get a range of advice and check that your chosen fireplace installer has New Zealand Home Heating Association certification.
THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY
Many fireplaces can also heat your hot water or even boil the kettle. There are some innovative new looks – Pyroclassic fires come in over 200 colours, and Living Flame’s biofuel fires can be installed anywhere, with no need for a chimney.
If you’ve got an existing fireplace, you can research the era of your home and restore its original character, but make sure you have a professional check it over for safety. Or you can start from scratch with a modern freestanding fire in the most convenient spot for your family.
Burning wood is carbon-neutral because it’s renewable, but burning it cleanly is the key to making it environmentally friendly. Ensure you ask your installer about the best way to run your fire cleanly and efficiently.
+ Produces a comfortable dry heat
+ Lower heating costs + Can cool the air in hot weather + Purifies the air + Adds value to your home
+ Can create cross-draughts + Loses efficiency the colder it gets + Can be bulky, especially the external unit
When shopping for a heat pump, it’s most important to choose one that’s the right size and capacity for your space. Many installers offer online calculators, so grab a tape measure and get an idea of what you’re in the market for. However, unless you’re a confident home handyperson, you’ll still need a professional to advise you before the final installation.
When getting quotes from installers, make sure you ask questions and understand the whole process. Ask for quotes with itemised costs and a clear installation plan in layperson’s language. Ensure your installer follows EECA’s good practice guide and is accredited for the heat pumps they install. Make sure you understand the visual impact of your choice inside and out.
THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY
> Wifi-controlled heat pumps can be turned on and off using an app.
> Some systems use an outdoor unit to pump air to several rooms inside, or a central compressor that distributes hot air throughout the home.
> Air-to-water systems can also heat your water. > Ground-source heat pumps use heat from the earth rather than from the air.
Floor-mounted heat pumps can heat a space faster but take up more room and are harder to ignore. Wall units are more discreet but slightly less efficient. Ducted heat pumps are the most discreet of all. Manufacturers are starting to release more options in terms of colour and finish.
A heat pump must be well suited to your space, type of home and climate to run efficiently.
If you make the right choice, your heat pump will run very efficiently and you’ll see the difference on your power bill, especially if your home is well insulated.
+ Heats a space quickly + No consent or tricky installation required + Cheap to buy
+ Expensive to run for long periods
+ Can be hot to touch and risky for small children
There are so many options out there for freestanding heaters, it can be hard to know what to look for. To help you get value for money, look for these three things: a thermostat (to maintain an even temperature), a timer
(so you can set your heater to warm up the kitchen before you get up) and a fan (helps to warm a room faster and distribute the air more evenly). Even ticking just one of these boxes will mean extra efficiency and convenience.
Easy to install; most simply require a socket!
THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY
Oscillating tower heaters – such as Dyson’s Hot+Cool range – are quiet, efficient and look like something from outer space. Goldair makes a sleek range of wifi-enabled heaters.
There are endless options available to suit the decor of your home, but working out where you’re going to keep your heater will help you narrow down the options in terms of size and shape. While you’re at it, check if your chosen model has cord storage so you can keep it tucked away when not in use.
Freestanding heaters range from very energy efficient (oil column heaters) to very inefficient (cheap fan heaters). Ask your retailer for advice.
Choose from sleek electric wall panels or a central water, air or gas transfer system to heat your entire home by way of discreet radiators.
+ Easy to run + Heats the whole house
+ Discreet and stylish designs + Healthy and safe
+ Can add to your home’s value + Easy to control
+ Water transfer central heating systems (water-heated radiators) are more efficient than air transfer systems, but are more expensive to install + Water transfer requires a new hot water system
Before choosing a system you’ll need to research which one is right for you. Consider your family’s needs, house size, cost, installation, availability of fuel to keep it running (eg gas, electricity, etc) and design. If you can afford it, a long-term solution is best, so consult an expert about the right choice for your home.
Radiator installation for central heating requires new pipework throughout your home. Houses with generous underfloor space – especially older houses – are best suited to retrofitting radiator heating due to the greater ease of installation. Electric panels are simply mounted onto the wall and plugged into a power socket.
THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY
The next generation of central heating systems will be controlled from your smartphone and will intuitively sense which areas to warm up and when. Smart home technology is on its way!
Radiators are extremely sleek and chic these days but many models can also be painted to blend in with your wall colour.
Choosing a system that is correctly sized to your home is essential for efficiency and value for money so make sure you consult a qualified specialist and get a few quotes before you make a decision.
With so many modern homes incorporating outdoor living areas these days, it would be a shame to stop using our exterior spaces just because the temperature has dropped a few degrees. Grab the woolly blankets, a hot drink and consider these options:
+ A fireplace or brazier – looks great, adds a real sense of cosiness and atmosphere to your outdoor area and can double as a marshmallow roaster or even a full-blown oven.
+ Gas bottle heaters – easy to run, very effective, cheap and can be stored during warmer months.
+ Electric radiant heaters – the cheapest and easiest option to get up and running but only suitable for short-term blasts of heat as they can hit your power bill hard.
Flickering flames provide a wonderfully cosy atmosphere. Today’s fires come in a vast range of styles and burn a variety of fuels, including wood, gas and biofuel.
woodburner, $2899, from Pyroclassic.
Brooklyn bioethanol in bronze and
black, $5000 or under, from Living Flame.
R1500WS freestanding radiant
woodburner, $1699, from
woodburner, $2999, from
Currently a popular heating choice, heat pumps are best suited to larger rooms and living areas that require a steady level of comfort over several hours. Heat pumps use electricity to move and warm air, and are an energy-efficient heating option.
Daikin Cora heat pump and air conditioner,
$3300, see daikin.co.nz for stockists.
Mitsubishi Electric HyperCore FH Series heat pump
and air conditioner, $3799, from Noel Leeming.
Panasonic E21 heat pump and air conditioner,
$2998, from Harvey Norman. Mitsubishi Electric Designer Series 4.0W heat pump
and air conditioner, $2399, from Noel Leeming.
Portable heaters are best for when you need a short blast of warm air in a specific area.
Dyson AM09 Hot+Cool fan heater, $799, from Noel
DeLonghi HCX3220FTS slimline convector heater,
$379.99, from Briscoes.
Moretti 2200W micathermic
fan heater, $117, from Bunnings.
Goldair retro oil column heater, $129, from Mitre 10.
Goldair panel heater
with wifi, $199, from Mitre 10.
Moretti 2000W retro
fan heater, $69, from Bunnings.
radiator (waterheated), POA, from centralheating.co.nz.
Daikin Nexura heat
pump (wall-mounted close to floor), POA, see daikin.co.nz for
with timer, $159.99, from Noel Leeming.
Jumbuck outdoor electric heater with carbon fibre element, $249, from Bunnings.
Fiammetta stainless steel outdoor patio
heater, $269, from Bunnings.
fire, $6499, from Kent.
pit, $425, from Tim Webber.