Heat pumps buyer’s guide: How to choose the right heat pump for your home
As outside temperatures drop, think how good it feels to be cosy indoors. You can tough it out in a thicker pair of socks, or upgrade your home heating and insulation and achieve winter comfort in an energy-efficient fashion. Here are some smart ways to stay toasty.
Solid fuel home heaters have come a long way, with the new generation of slow-combustion heaters boasting enhanced eco credentials. Before buying a wood heater, check regulations with your state environment protection agency and your local council, as you may need a development application.
For the visual appeal of dancing flames without the fuss, look at low-maintenance alternatives to woodburners. Gas heaters blaze up at the touch of a button, or consider electric fireplace heaters, which provide flame effects with no venting required, and can be moved from room to room.
A reverse-cycle air conditioner covers off all your heating and cooling needs in one unit. When it’s cold outside, wi-fi control allows you to pre-emptively strike while on your commute, switching on the heating so you can return home to instant cosiness. Some air conditioners, such as the Mitsubishi ‘Bronte’ range, can be fitted with a wi-fi adaptor, which allows you to operate it remotely via a tablet or smartphone.
A sunny expanse of windows is a weak link in winter. A single pane of glass can lose almost 10 times as much heat as the same area of insulated wall but, if you are renovating, double-glazed windows can reduce heat loss by 30 per cent. For a quick fix, think curtains, blinds or, even better, a layered combination.
According to Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter, around 40 per cent of home energy use goes on heating and cooling, but 25 per cent of this is wasted. “Remarkable quantities of heat are lost through small gaps around windows and doors or up unused chimneys – or in some instances through cracks in walls and between floorboards,” says Tim. Thankfully, installing a brush strip to block breezes sneaking under the door is as easy as operating a drill, and adhesive door and window seals are even simpler to apply.
A properly insulated home is a snug winter home – and a cool summer home, for that matter. Tim says, “Insulation in the roof, walls and floors is a must for anyone who is hoping to seriously improve the way their home holds heat.” Reflective foils tend to work well in warm climates, where they reflect heat from entering a house, while bulk insulators, like glasswool batts, act like a thermal barrier – the higher the R rating of a product, the more heat it will resist.
Though not the most efficient or economical choice for heating a whole home, electric heaters, including panel and fan ones, are ideal for smaller, insulated spaces. Use them to take the edge off when working from home during a cold snap.
Underfloor heating is perfect for tiled spaces. Since the entire installation is under the tiles, it doesn’t take up space and there will be no cold spots in the room where the warmth doesn’t reach, because the whole floor is essentially the heater. It can be difficult to retrofit, and is best installed during a major reno, rebuild or when adding an extension. You will also need a licensed tradie to assist with installation.
Get comfort with the flick of a switch, using a single appliance that lights, heats and clears moisture from the air, potentially inhibiting mould growth. A combination heat lamp/extractor fan/light is an excellent all-in-one bathroom solution. This device can’t be installed DIY and must be hardwired by a licensed electrician.
Heated towel rails are highly efficient. “A typical five-bar heated towel rail will use approximately 60W, which is ultimately less than many incandescent light bulbs,” says Annalisa Caronna at Forme. While hardwired heated towel rails will need to be installed by a licensed electrician, some can be simply plugged into your existing power point. While they’ll warm your towels and don’t draw much power, heated rails aren’t hugely effective at heating a larger space.
For more ideas on how to keep your home warm, check out our guide on how-to winterproof your home.
Photo Credit: Cath Muscat, Masport, Getty Images, Windoware, Pablo Veiga, Gap Interiors/Caroline Mardon, IXL and pmgdesign.com.au