Buyers guide to home heating
Picture: Supplied by Cannon

Winter is upon us but is your heating up to the task?

Harvey Norman Osborne Park's Steve Lewis said there were now so many options that it paid to do your research.

"It might be tempting to just buy a cheaper heater but is it rated to the area intended?" he said. "Budget is always going to play a factor in consumers' choice too, so consider how much the initial cost is but always take into consideration the long-term running costs."

Stuart Hoxey, of Hearth House, said the environment was another consideration.

"My ducted reverse-cycle system has no smoke or pollutants visible so some say this is the best way to go," he said.

"Wood fires are seen as very unfriendly by some but you can grow a tree in 100 years to replace every one you burn but we can't replace our coal or gas reserves in this timeframe.

"For a simple answer, gas and electricity units are best for close living in a large city - keep wood fires on large blocks and on the fringes of cities."

Tony Styles, of Heatmaster, said energy or gas pricing as well as wood supply could help determine which option to choose. "Everyone has their own style and heating requirements so choosing the right form of heating for your home is really a personal choice," he said.


A traditional fireplace brings with it ambience and beauty and should be considered an investment, according to Jetmaster Fireplaces WA's Jocasta Bronwasser.

"It's a real talking point at dinner parties, it brings the group together and it makes the party last longer," she said. "In winter you can come home from school sport on a Saturday, turn the fire on and everyone can stop shivering."

Mr Hoxey said gas fireplaces were the answer for those wanting the ambience of a wood fire without the mess, and were great for small to medium-sized areas.

Wood heaters, on the other hand, could heat much bigger areas than gas. "Wood heats a much larger area than gas and is a renewable fuel," she said.

"If you are burning dry wood then the emissions are going to be minimal but if you are burning green wood or wood with a lot of resin in it, then it's going to release harmful emissions."

Nick Stokes, of Subiaco Restoration, said he had noticed a decline in high gas-consumption open fires and a revival of high-efficiency star-rated gas fires as well as wood fireplaces.

"Stunning modern design from Invicta, Stovax, Morso, Jotul, and Cheminees Philippe have made these a proper alternative to gas fireplaces," he said.

Portable gas

Portable gas heaters deliver good heat to individual rooms, with convection styles more efficient than radiant, Mr Lewis said.

"Rinnai also provide a flued gas heating option which draws in fresh air from outside via a flue and then heats the air and any noxious fumes are then eliminated via the flue to the outside via the pipe," he said.

"This is by far the most efficient gas heater for large single areas and without internal fumes."

Reverse-cycle air-conditioning

Quiet, cost-effective and efficient, Mr Lewis said there were many benefits of heating (and cooling) with reverse-cycle air-conditioning, especially bigger houses and areas.

"Reverse-cycle systems - both ducted and single split units - are the most efficient due to the high air circulation they provide," he said. "There are also no fumes inside the house and when combined with solar energy during the day, are very cost-effective."

Mr Hoxey agreed that ducted systems were increasingly popular. "They can heat large areas . . . and you can offset the electrical input with a solar panel system on your roof," he said.

Panel heaters

Mr Lewis said electric panel heaters were gaining momentum in Australia.

They used natural heat-rising principles to circulate air. "Their internal thermostats will maintain room temperature for long durations without drying the air out," he said. "Bedrooms are especially good locations for these as they are the safe and keep the air at a normal moisture level rather than drying it out."

Peter Harris, of Appliances Online, agreed. "Being slim and lightweight, they are a stylish heating solution while also offering the distinct advantage of being able to fit into a home where space is at a premium."

Ethanol-burning fires

Ms Bronwasser said ethanol-burning heaters were stylish options, able to be suspended from a ceiling-mounted pole, on a wall or fitted into a fireplace.

"They are a more decorative form of heating and are especially great for apartments or homes where flues aren't possible," she said. "The convenience is very attractive."

Trends in heating

“We believe the direction of heating design has gone far beyond just functionality, with style being just as important as how the unit operates,” Heatmaster’s Tony Styles said.

Hearth House’s Stuart Hoxey said wide landscape wood and gas fires were popular, while Nick Stokes, of Subiaco Restoration, said new technology such as Escea’s Smart Heating Technology allowed your fire to be controlled via your computer, tablet or smart phone.

“There is also the Real Flame “Power Flue” flueing system for their range of open-fronted fires,” he said. “This system uses an inline fan to enable difficult flueing scenarios to be overcome with ease, so when a fire is an afterthought in a new build this system will get you out of trouble!”

The West Australian

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