An open fireplace is arguably the most romantic heating option available. But even though the latest wood-burning heaters are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, they may not be the best choice in certain homes, such as apartments. Fortunately, there are some amazing flame-effect electric heaters on the market that allow you to enjoy the look of a fireplace without the challenges of installing a real one.
If the flicker of flame doesn’t take your fancy, there are plenty of other fantastic ways to warm your home on a windy winter’s day. While portable heaters are great for warming smaller spaces, such as a bedroom, a permanently installed appliance is often a better choice for an area the size of a living room. From reverse-cycle air-conditioning to the latest micathermic and panel heaters, there is a solution to suit every family.
Today’s built-in and freestanding fireplaces are much more technologically advanced than they may seem at first glance. Featuring two-stage combustion to maximise efficiency and dramatically reduce carbon emissions, wood-burning heaters are both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Some models feature an electric fan to help distribute warmth, and they can effectively heat homes of up to 300sqm in size.
If a genuine fireplace is not practical for you to install, for example if you live in an apartment building or if you’re renting, a flame-effect heater may be the perfect compromise. With a fan-assisted electric element to provide warmth and practical features such as a timer and thermostat, this type of heater looks as if it contains real, burning firewood. And its faux flames can be remarkably convincing!
Reverse-cycle air conditioning
Probably the most surprising thing about reverse-cycle air conditioners is that for every kilowatt of energy they use, they can actually produce the equivalent of up to three kilowatts of warmth. This is because they work by extracting heat from the air outside and transferring it into the home, even when the temperature outside is much lower than inside!
Using a combination of radiant heat and convection, panel heaters warm a room in a similar way to an oil-filled column heater, but more efficiently. When mounted on the wall, the heater creates an updraught in the space behind its back panel, allowing it to warm the room quickly and silently. Some models feature an IP (ingress protection) rating of 24, meaning they are splashproof and can be safely installed in a bathroom.
This is one of the latest designs in the evolution of indoor heaters. Its name comes from the thin layer of mica coating its heating element, which allows it to heat up very quickly – reaching its maximum temperature within 60 seconds. Micathermic heaters spread warmth by both convection and radiant heat, and they also have the advantage of silent operation.