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  • 20 Apr 2016


At last, after months of above-average heat, temperatures are starting to drop and that lovely autumn feel is in the air. But with that early morning nip in the air, and chilly nights, it might be time to consider some form of heating.

In the old days we relied on log fires and think socks to keep us warm, but today there are so many different methods, it can be hard to choose.

Of course, there is nothing more welcoming that a roaring log fire or toasty wood-burning stove and, depending on the style of your home, and your location, they are still a great choice. Let's face it, that's how mankind has kept warm for thousands of years!


Renewable fuel

But remember the use of open flame heating is tightly regulated in Australia, and there are many safety standards to take into account, such as the placement of the flue.

Wood is an effective, renewable fuel when burnt efficiently, but solid fuel heaters are also considered a major source of air pollution if not correctly installed and used.

So if you do go down this path, ensure you buy a recognised brand of wood-burning stove, and have it properly and safely installed. Burn only dry, seasoned wood and use the air vents to reduce the amount of smoke produced.

The other most popular forms of heating your home are electric heaters, gas heaters or reverse-cycle air-conditioning.


Professionally installed

The latter are the most expensive, but considered very effective in terms of the power they use compared to the heat they generate. It's a good choice for a large area, such as an open plan living area. But do get advice on the best model and size for your home, and have it professionally installed and maintained.

Gas heaters offer fairly good value for money, and come in two forms - flued or unflued. Flued models - where the fumes are expelled from the room via a pipe - are more expensive and possibly not as efficient.

Unflued models - which dissipate the fumes into the room - may present problems with fumes and the moisture they expel. They are subject to regulations and the room must be well ventilated.

If you go for gas, avoid buying used equipment. Buy new, with a gurantee, and have it professionally installed if necessary.

Electric heaters are cheap to buy, usually portable and a good choice for heating a small area or individual people. Again, it is always best to buy new.


Passive heating and cooling

Heating and cooling our homes uses a lot of energy so, where possible, good design and building is a far better option than mechanical heating and cooling. Proper insulation and draught-proofing will go a long way towards keeping you warmer.

You can also use passive heating - for example, let the winter sun in during the day to warm the home and close the curtains early enough to keep that warmth in during the night.

Or close off areas of the house you're not using, concentrating the heat in one or two areas. Perhaps even hang heavier curtains in the winter months.

And remember, hot air rises, so choose ceiling fans with a reverse direction option, to push the heat back down.

Whatever the size of your budget, thinking smart will help keep you toasty this winter.