Complete guide to indoor and outdoor heating
The oldest form of heating has come a long way, but there is still something magical about a woodburning heater.
To warm up your winter home, follow this guide to indoor and outdoor heating from Bunnings Warehouse.
Modern wood burners offer the ambience of a fireplace, but with greater efficiency. There are three main types: freestanding wood-burning stoves with glass panels, fireplace inserts and pellet fires (which burn recycled wood pellets, and can be freestanding or inserts). Freestanding wood-burning and pellet stoves create radiant heat. “The closer you are to the fire, the warmer you get, which is why radiant heaters are preferred by those who like open-plan living and like to ‘feel’ the fire while watching the flames,” says Bruce Bott, Scandia group territory manager NZ. “But remember you always need to consider national requirements for clearances from combustible items.” Fireplace and pellet inserts are convection heaters, heating the air around them, which rises to the ceiling. “Convection wood fires are great for multiple rooms that ‘push’ hot air around providing a very consistent, controllable ambient warmth throughout the home,” says Bruce. New Zealand has tough standards for wood burners, with emission limits and energy efficiency requirements. Only approved models can be installed – and always get them installed professionally.
Wall, window and split-system are the most common forms of non-ducted air conditioning, and ‘reverse cycle’ models can be used to both heat and cool a house. They’re effective in individual rooms and in bigger spaces like open-plan living areas. It’s important to choose an air conditioner that suits the layout of your house, with the right capacity for your needs. It is essential to talk to an experienced installer when deciding what system is suitable for your home, particularly if you want to heat multiple rooms. Look for models with the highest number of stars under the Energy Rating Label system.
For smaller, contained spaces, electric heaters are a portable, cost-effective option. There are four main types: radiant, fan, convection/panel and oil column. Radiant heaters feature a red-hot heating element or ‘bar’ – a wall-mounted model is a sound option for a bathroom, but don’t use one in a bedroom, as they pose a fire risk, getting hot enough to ignite nearby combustibles. They also have infrared versions. A great bathroom choice is a 3-in-1 infrared ceiling heat lamp, providing instant warmth and multi-tasking as an LED light and extractor fan. Small, portable fan heaters are good for short-term use in smaller rooms. Convection/panel heaters draw in air over a heating element; the warmed air rising upwards– so are not ideal for rooms with high ceilings, or where there’s a lot of ventilation. Finally, there are oil columns, which heat a fuel source in their ‘fins’; the heat then transfers to the air around the columns. They’re safe to operate over long periods, therefore suitable for the bedroom.
Thanks to the huge range of outdoor heating options available, we can enjoy alfresco living throughout the year.
Fire pits and chimeneas are the most common wood-burning options and add the atmosphere of a campfire to an outdoor space. The most important factor regarding outdoor wood burners is safety, says Jacqueline Hughes, product manager at Glow. “Do not use them on or close to decking or any other flammable surfaces, or grass, leaves or furniture,” she advises. “You must ensure that the unit is stable, and never leave the fire unattended. The most suitable surfaces on which to situate a fire pit or chimenea are brick, stone, gravel and concrete.”
Anyone who’s eaten alfresco at a restaurant during winter months will be familiar with freestanding column gas heaters. These are one of the larger options for home use, but gas heaters can be wall-mounted, too, saving floor space and increasing safety. Portable versions run off a gas bottle, while their wall-mounted relatives are connected to a home’s natural gas supply. Your alfresco space will need to be well ventilated if you’re using a gas heater, advises Stephen Read of Fiammetta. “If you have a covered outdoor area, ensure it’s an ‘Outdoor Area’ as defined in the instruction manual to ensure safe operation, and always maintain the required clearance distances to combustible materials,” he says.
Slimline and unobtrusive, electric strip heaters are mounted on the ceiling or wall of an outdoor space, and give off radiant heat, gently warming anything below them. The primary consideration, says Heatstrip national sales manager Greg Trezise, is height. “Our ‘Classic’ and ‘Elegance’ models should ideally be mounted overhead, between 2.2m and 2.5m off the ground, with maximum 2.7m,” he explains. “That will heat an area of between five and seven square metres.” Mounting height and heating area vary between models, so check the manufacturer’s instructions. Other electric options include freestanding heaters in striking contemporary designs. Just remember that any hard-wired electrical fixtures must be installed by a qualified electrician.
Tips for buying, storing and using firewood
• The drier the wood, the better. “You want your fire energy to focus on burning to generate heat, not drying the wood,” says Jacqueline. Aim for a moisture content of between 15 and 20 per cent (you can measure this with a moisture meter).
• Avoid wood that has been painted, pressure-treated or stained. “You should also steer clear of driftwood, plywood and particle board as they can release toxins into the air,” adds Jacqueline.
• Consumer NZ advises storing firewood undercover or against a sheltering wall. When stacking, leave gaps for air to pass through.
Pick out a heater perfect for you
Head into your local Bunnings store to pick up your ideal heater. If you’re still feeling stuck on which one is right for you, check out our article on how to choose a heater.