Turn up the heat
When it comes to heating, energy efficiency and aesthetics are the hottest trends, with consumers placing more emphasis on sustainability and many of the latest heaters serving as a design feature as much as a functional purpose.
For example, Jocasta Bronwasser, of Jetmaster Fireplaces WA, said sleek gas flued flame fires were one of the most sought-after options, as they provided a stylish feature as well as a heating source.
We take a look at what other trends are heating up our homes.
Matt Kersey, of Hearth House, agreed that gas flued heaters were increasingly popular, especially for new home builders seeking an energy-efficient option.
“As a result of six-star energy efficiency requirements, builders are encouraging flued heaters because when you put in a bayonet you lose efficiency, ” he said.
They were also popular for main living areas because of their attractive design, and could be a great option for bedrooms if the manufacturer’s specifications and regulations were followed.
“The romance of the flickering flame is a real selling point for this heating option in the bedroom — it is such a visual thing, ” Mr Kersey said.
Rinnai’s Lorraine Ong said as a general rule, convection gas heaters (which distributed heat using a fan) were best suited to large areas while radiant heaters were ideal for spot heating.
She recommended a gas heater with thermostatic control to maintain an even temperature, as well as a programmable timer to switch the appliance on and off as required. “This ensures that there is no energy wastage and your house is warm when you get up in the mornings or before you come home from work, ” she said.
Enviro High Efficient Gas Fireplace. Picture: heatmaster.com.au
Despite electric heating being perceived as a less-than-efficient option, it still has a place in the market where lower installation costs and portability are desired, according to Pureheat’s Garry Barnes.
“Electricity tariffs have increased in the last two years, but energy costs in general, including gas, have increased as well, ” he said. “The fact remains that heating a space is going to cost and if natural gas is not available electric heating is still the only viable alternative.
“Introducing electric heaters with more accurate thermostat control, switching to ‘off’ when the desired room temperature is reached rather than idle at a lower wattage and use of fan assistance in lieu of convection to distribute the heat around the room more efficiently and quickly are all steps that have been taken to provide the best possible outcome for the electricity used, ” he said.
Mr Barnes said fan-assisted electric heaters were the most efficient option while Harvey Norman’s Greg Scott said electric panel heaters –— a form of convection heaters — were popular for bedrooms and larger living areas.
Rae O’Brien, of Elite Floor Heating, said underfloor heating was an affordable-to-run option that had become more popular.
“Once people experience it they don’t want to be without it, ” she said.
It wasn’t limited to bathrooms, either, but rather could be used to heat the entire home — and was so effective there was no need for other forms of heating.
“A cold floor draws heat into it, so when you heat the floor you minimise heat loss, ” Ms O’Brien said. “You don’t have to heat the air because it is radiant heat so the air isn’t heated but you are.
“Underfloor heating is also virtually maintenance free and a safe option because there are no hot surfaces.
“No air movement also means it is a good heating option for people with asthma.”
Wood fires are enjoying something of a resurgence, according to Lesley Aitkin, of SCHOTT Australia.
This was driven in part by the versatility of products now on offer — from big to small, from state-of-the-art contemporary and freestanding models to traditional hearths — as well as the unbeatable wow factor provided by an open fire.
“Traditionally, fireplaces and wood heaters were the focal point of a home, but in these modern times, homeowners are once again embracing the benefits of a real fire, ” she said.
“Fires are an immediate focal point and a warm retreat, providing both functionality and beautiful, aesthetic qualities that instantly modernises and adds value to any home.
“With the continual hikes in electricity prices, it is not surprising that the fireplace is making a comeback to our homes.”
Heaters fuelled by bioethanol offered an easy-to-install heating solution, according Subiaco Restoration’s Tim Stokes.
They required no chimney, flue or utility connection as they were fuelled by ethanol, which did not give off smoke or harmful emissions. “If you are after the ambience of a flame it is a great solution, ” Mr Stokes said.
Mr Kersey agreed, adding their ease of installation made bioethanol heaters ideal for multi-storey homes.
Aesthetics were also a big selling point, according to Mr Stokes, who said there was a huge range of indoor and outdoor units available — with indoor units providing the flexibility to be built into cabinetry or retro-fitted into an existing traditional fireplace.
Design Fireplaces: Bioethanol cube fires. Picture: ecosmartfire.com.au
Reverse-cycle split system air-conditioners remained popular, according to Mr Scott, as they provided a two-in-one way to heat and cool. “Reverse-cycle split system air-conditioners are great for their ease of use, ” he said. “When the weather changes from summer to winter you simply have to adjust the setting — there is no dragging out the heater.”
Mr Scott said it was important to choose the correct size and capacity for your home in order to ensure efficient operation — 2.5kW models were suitable for bedrooms, with units up to 9.2kW ideal for larger living areas.
“If you are buying an air-conditioner for the bedroom you want to ensure you get the quietest option, ” he said.
With heating and cooling amounting to around 23 per cent of household energy use, Lorraine Org has these tips to maximise the efficiency of your heating system:
• Insulate ceiling, walls and floors.
• Insulate your windows. The use of lined drapes over windows can reduce heat loss by anything up to 10 per cent.
• Stop draughts by sealing cracks and gaps, fitting dampers to decorative fireplaces and blocking unnecessary vents.
• Install an inexpensive reversible ceiling fan. As we all know, heat rises. A reversible ceiling fan gently pushes the heat back down into the room where you need it.
© The West Australian
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