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How to keep your home efficiently warm this winter

Gas, electricity, solar, wood or bio fuel? Your guide to staying warm at home when the big chill sets in

When it comes to heating a home there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What suits a big family who like to socialise together in an open-plan space may not work for a smaller one that spreads itself out into different rooms.

Your choice of heating should reflect your family’s lifestyle and your home’s aesthetic. Ideally, it effortlessly segues into your interior, without being noticed, or it’s a style statement – either way, it should tie in with the look of your interior.

The World Health Organisation advises that the minimum indoor temperature should be 18°C in living areas and 16°C in bedrooms. Recommendations for babies and elderly people are higher. Here’s how to meet those needs in a way that suits your home.

Best heating for an old villa: heat pump

Heat pumps are ideal for old villas because they take the heat from outside your home and bring it inside, circulating clean fresh air. They’re perfect for heating bigger or less well-insulated spaces, which is common in older houses, and the purchase cost will be more than offset by cheaper running costs. Easily installed without tampering with your home’s structure, they can heat multiple rooms and come in floor consoles, highwall or ducted systems.

If highwall styles are not for you, the Panasonic Z35 Floor Console Heat Pump/Air Conditioner, $2501, from Harvey Norman, features the nanoeX air purification system

The wrong-sized heat pump for your room will mean it won’t heat your space adequately, so ensure you buy the right size for the space you want to heat, using the energy rating label. The higher the number of stars, the more energy-efficient and low-cost the heat pump will be to run.
If you use a heat pump with four stars on the energy rating label it will output 55 percent fewer emissions than a similar heat pump with only one star.

Also great for villas, the Gazco Riva2 600 Gas Fire, from $5445, from The Fireplace is designed to fit into existing chimneys with a mantel for a traditional look or opt for a clean-edge finish

Best eco-friendly heating: solar power

Do you want to see your monthly power bill reduced? Solar panels and an accompanying battery system are perfect for enabling this while adding value to your home. Because energy is sourced naturally from the sun, there is less or no grid dependence.

Ideally, you’d place your panels on the roof in a north-facing direction to capture the most sunlight. If you do not want them on the roof, or your roof is facing south where there is less sunlight, you could have panels on a ground-mount. This option is ideal for those living in areas out of the city with more space.

During the day your house will run on live solar power generated by your panels. While this happens, your battery system will charge from the excess generated energy to be used at night when the sun is down.

A percentage of your power will still sometimes come from the grid for days that are not sunny enough to supply all your electricity demands. This applies to grid-tied and hybrid systems. But if you want to go off-grid, you can depend on a generator for back-up energy.

You’ll reduce your power bill, pay a one-time payment (from $10,000 up) with little to no maintenance or grid dependence and avoid rising utility costs.

As all projects are customised according to each property, costs will vary. Ongoing costs are little to none.

Smile-S6-HV Battery System from The Solar Group

Best aesthetically pleasing heating: gas fireplace

Love the look of a traditional fire but could do without the mess and labour involved? A gas fire is the answer. Quick and easy to use, with no need to worry about chopping, ordering or storing wood, current styles are sleek and chic, adding not only warmth to your room but a stylish feature too.

The Gazco Reflex 105 Edge with Echo Flame Black Glass lining is designed with a frameless edge so it easily fits into a modern interior. The optional smartphone or tablet control gives ease of use. From $10,252, from The Fireplace

Best budget-friendly with instant gratification: convection heater

Quick to heat your room and make life more comfortable, the convection heater is quiet to run. “For a budget-friendly option with instant gratification, go for a portable convection heater,” says Evan Claxton, general manager of small appliances, Harvey Norman. “They will heat a relatively large space without costing a huge amount to run. Generally, they are free-standing and can be moved from room to room if you don’t want multiple heaters running.”

De’Longhi 2000-watt portable convection heater, from $89, from Harvey Norman

“We have seen a lift towards the premium panel heater, which is completely silent, very economical to run and has a life-time warranty. So, you’re buying a heater you know you will own it forever. Long-term that’s the best way to buy a heater, it’s the cheapest way to run, but you’re buying premium initially. We have people coming back to buy more of these for their second and third rooms.”

“If you have a small heater in a massive room it has to run full bore the whole time, which can be expensive. So, size the heater to the room, get a larger heater for a large room so you won’t spend more running it, and make sure it has a good thermostat to save you money. Bear in mind you might spend a bit more for the heater itself initially.”

Dimplex Micathermic Heater with Electronic Climate Control 2.4kW Black, $399, from Mitre 10, offers both radiant and convective heat so you will still feel the warmth from the heater as the room heats up. 

Best heating for an ultra-modern house: suspended fireplace

Picture yourself sitting back and warming yourself as you watch the flames flicker in a fireplace that is almost floating. Perfect for a contemporary home, the suspended fireplace celebrates curves that are easy on the eye, its unique aesthetic using space efficiently while keeping you warm.

What is so appealing about these fires is that you’re owning something unique; rather than just a fireplace it’s also a coveted design. A big talking point for any home, whether used as an indoor or outdoor fire, it’s available in wood-fired, bio fuel or hybrid wood/bio fuel versions.

The bio fuel option can be capped off in the ceiling, eliminating a need for a flue inserted through the roof. The fuel is plant-based and eco-friendly, hence no need for a fully open flue system. The wood-fired option also creates the opportunity to cook a pizza.

Aurora Aether suspended fireplace, $10,953.80, from Heatrite. For the bio fuel option, you need to top up the fuel as you go

Also good: modern woodburner

Ideal for passive homes, modern wood fires offer high heat with low emissions. Modern designs allow you to heat different areas with a rotating ability, and can be used as open fires or closed with glass doors.

Woodsman Serene Petite wood fire, $2599, from Mitre 10

Words by: Catherine Steel.

 

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