From the newest integrated electric models to traditional slow-combustion, there’s a heating option for every home this winter. Ride the heat wave on gas or electric, bio-fuel and reverse cycle, or settle down with a good old-fashioned crackling log fire.
Jocasta Bronwasser, director of Jetmaster Fireplaces WA, says the international trend for both gas and wood fires is sleek landscape-oriented designs. “These instil a sophisticated and streamlined look with a clear and large viewing area and minimum trim detail. Models such as the Horizon Low Line gas fire, or the new Kemlan Linear slow-combustion wood fire, are installed in an elevated position within a chimney breast that, in many cases, also accommodates a TV.”
Cannon Appliances brand manager Libby Strong says high-efficiency heaters are
a popular choice. “Powerflue heaters are the way of the future for gas log heaters and gas space heaters in general. They provide rapid warmth without the mess of a real log fire and, thanks to their high energy efficiency, have low operating costs.”
Powerflue models such as Cannon’s new Fitzroy Profile Inbuilt unit take fresh air for combustion from outside the home, before venting the used gases back out into the atmosphere. “This means the air in your home remains clean and gas-free,” says Libby. “Plus they’re suitable for five-star rated homes and can be used in bedrooms for that luxurious finishing touch.”
Jocasta says the increase in multi-residential and apartment developments in Perth means electric fireplaces, such as Jetmaster WA’s Gallery Linear model, come into their own. Such varieties don’t require flueing or integrated construction. “The wall-hanging unit has a fashionable flatscreen viewing window that is simply plugged into a power socket. It adds atmosphere with a simulated realistic flame and fan heater without any construction costs, and the price point is significantly lower than a gas alternative.”
For the same reason, ethanol burners remain popular, Jocasta says. “The units can be suspended from the wall on brackets – housed in a cover box and built in – or alternatively dropped into a non-combustible countertop of marble or granite.”
At Jetmaster, the marine-grade stainless steel ethanol-burning unit is selling like hotcakes. “The contemporary ICON linear range is brand new to Perth and is fuelled by denatured ethanol (methylated spirits). It produces a surprising amount of radiant heat (up to 80sqm) from a stunning bright-orange flame.”
Ben Davies, director at The Outdoor Chef, says wood fires are making a comeback, both in Perth and overseas. “People love the raw burning fire, along with the sounds and smells. Meanwhile, in the USA, the large square wood and gas fires are resurgent, many being installed with old-style marble surrounds and hearths.”
When it comes to deciding on a heating solution for your home, so much depends on how you’ll be integrating the appliance into your decor.
“There is nothing like a fireplace or hearth to create the heart of a home, a focal point that gives the room structure and warmth,” says Adele Bates, director at Adele Bates Design. The scale and orientation of the space, she says, will determine whether you install a freestanding model or integrate your heating directly into the room’s joinery, walls or partitions.
“Building the wall out around the fireplace makes it a proud spatial element,” she explains. “Alternatively, integrating the fireplace into joinery such as cupboards and shelving can make the entire wall a feature.”
Adele says that the amount of space will determine which model to go for, whether you’re heating an enclosed room or a large, open-plan area. “It is also important to consider the function and nature of the space – is it a living space for the family to gather, an entertaining area, or an intimate study?” she says.
Andrew Mitchell from Mr. Mitchell Design says the type of heat you like – radiant (such as hydronic or fire) or forced air (split systems) – will influence how you arrange your furniture.
“First, design your furniture layout, and work out the best placement of your heating source,” he advises. “It is best not to have forced-air heat falling directly on to you, as it may cause irritations and set off allergies.”
Andrew says he enjoys seeing fireplaces in any space, whether it be a living room, kitchen, bedroom or bathroom.
“If the fireplace is to be gas, check that you have adequate space for the flue, whether top- or rear-vented,” he explains. “If the fireplace is wood-burning, you really need to have it designed by an engineer and constructed by a licensed builder.”
He advises positioning the fireplace as the focal point of the room, and then making allowances for the placement of essential items, such as a television. Before completing the decor, he suggests choosing heating and then creating a mantel and hearth around the structural requirements of the fireplace.
Whether you choose a freestanding or integrated approach, Adele says finishes to the surround are a good way to highlight a fireplace. This can be achieved using contrasting paint colour, natural stone, wallpaper or tiles.
“Additional elements such as an inbuilt wood stack also add to the presence of
a fireplace,” she says.
Don’t forget the room where you notice a chill more than in any other – the bathroom. “With its hard surfaces of tile, stone and ceramic, the bathroom can be one of the coldest rooms in the house,” says Reece Bathroom business manager Daniela Santilli. “With cooler weather on the way, it’s the perfect time to prepare your home for winter, and turn your bathroom into a toasty retreat.”
For a quick and easy update, Daniela says heated towel rails will instantly warm up your space. Add a Hydrotherm Milan floor-to-ceiling heated rail, or go for a freestanding option like the Hydrotherm Milan mobile heated rail, which requires little installation. “Match your towel rail to your colour scheme with the Kado range of heated towel rails, available in black, white or chrome,” she says.
For small bathrooms she suggests space-saving options like the Posh Domaine 500 corner heated wall rail, which makes use of under-utilised corner space, or the Hydrotherm Milan Triple Swivel heated rail, which lets you create valuable extra space when pushed flush against the wall.
“If you’re looking for a little warmth beneath your feet, underfloor heating is a clever solution,” says Daniela. “Because heat rises, underfloor heating is one of the most efficient ways to heat your home, and is a great long-term investment.” Advancements in technology mean that underfloor heating systems can now be installed in a new-build concrete slab, and also in a retrofit. “For an above-slab option, the electric Stiebel Eltron underfloor heating, available through Reece, sits just beneath tiles, making it perfect during a renovation,” she says.
Alternatively, consider adding a built-in heat module to your bathroom, such as the brand new IXL Tastic Neo, $389, which melds functionality with clean-lined aesthetics. Designed by local manufacturing firm IXL, the Neo range was designed to offer luxurious comfort.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
Back gardens may be shrinking, but the popularity of alfresco areas in WA is on
the up, and extending the enjoyment of the outdoors into the cooler months is front-of-mind for new homebuilders.
“Wood-burning barbecues double as outdoor fires,” says Jocasta, “and we have also noticed an increasing trend for Jetmaster gas and wood-burning fireplaces to be installed in alfresco dining areas, on verandahs, and poolside as an additional feature to enhance the outdoor lifestyle.
“In this scenario, an outdoor wood fire offers a naturally convected radiant heat that is guaranteed to warm the hearts and hands of family and friends, and stave off the chills on winter evenings.”
Firepits are still popular in either gas or natural wood, while more discrete products such as portable heaters or Thermofilm’s Heatstrips are perfect for protected alfresco and indoor heating scenarios. The Australian-designed and engineered range of premium quality, stylish and slimline electric radiant heaters provide cost-effective, efficient electric heating options.
With heating and cooling contributing to 40 per cent of the average Australian’s annual household bills, it’s worth considering eco-friendly options to benefit the environment and your hip pocket.
“Gas costs are continually rising, which is contributing to a return in popularity of wood-burning open or slow-combustion fireplaces,” Jocasta says. “People are rediscovering the benefits of wood, a climate-neutral, sustainably harvested fuel that heats larger areas (unlike gas).”
To ensure your fireplace is burning clean and working to its full functionality, Jocasta recommends having the flue or chimney cleaned every couple of years, and always burning dry hardwood, such as jarrah. “Burning pine and wet wood, will affect the heating capacity of the fire and greenhouse-gas emissions,” she says.
A slow-combustion wood fire with a built-in fan will use fuel economically and heat a large area, she says. “Wood burns cleaner and hotter than gas if you have a very large space.”
Despite being a non-renewable resource, gas provides a flick-of-the-switch solution that can be irresistible, Jocasta says – but go for new eco-conscious models such as the Heat & Glo range over open gas fireplaces. “While gas fireplaces will struggle to heat the vast areas a wood fireplace will, balanced flue units like the Heat & Glo range are fan-forced to ensure most of the heat is pushed out to heat the room quickly and efficiently, therefore using about half as much gas as an open gas fireplace.”
Sectioning off heat ‘bleeds’, such as stairwells, voids and passageways, and setting the fire to a thermostat will also reduce your carbon footprint.
Adele Bates Design adelebates.com.au
Cannon Appliances cannonappliances.com.au
IXL Appliances ixlappliances.com.au
Jetmaster Fireplaces WA jetmasterfireplaceswa.com.au
Mr. Mitchell Design mrmitchell.com.au
The Outdoor Chef theoutdoorchef.com.au
Subiaco Restoration subirest.com.au
Thermofilm Heatstrips thermofilm.com.au