What's Right for You: Wood, Electric or Gas Heating?
Some of the more senior members of our families will recall a childhood where heating in the home was a warm rug in front of an open wood fire. A romantic notion now, historically, it was often the only option. The tradition was enduring, with the open fireplace remaining a standard inclusion in new homes as late as the 1960s.
Modern families can choose from traditional and contemporary wood heating, modern gas and electric fireplaces, and stylish outdoor heating appliances. Spoiled for choice as we now are, selecting heating that meets the practical demands of our homes, as well as our tastes, desires, and budgets requires careful consideration.
Perhaps the most crucial process is defining exactly what we want to achieve with heating. Are we heating an entire house or trying to bring warmth to a central location such as an open-plan living space? Maybe we’re seeking to create a year-round outdoor entertaining area that remains warm and inviting throughout the cooler months. Or are we looking to invigorate a tired space with a working feature that’s not only practical but also informs mood and feel.
We need to address the critical questions about heating choices to refine and shortlist our options. Is electricity suitable for our heating budget and decor? Is gas a better fit for us based on our present gas connection and open-plan space? Or can we take advantage of advances in open and closed natural wood heating technologies to arrest winter chills while creating a heart-warming ambience? Many may discover that combining these heating options will present the perfect marriage of budget, practical, and aesthetic demands.
Our Home, its Design and Location, and Our Lifestyle
It might be stating the obvious, but a historic Tasmanian country cottage will have vastly different heating needs to a modernised Brisbane Queenslander style home. The difference is that the further south we go, the higher the demand for ongoing heating. The Queenslanders will have a handful of colder days each year, whereas those in southern latitudes can have heating running from early Autumn to late Spring. Therefore, the longer your cold season, the more significant consideration of running costs. However, regardless of our location and home design, gas, wood, and electricity present practical, beautiful, and cost-effective solutions.
The design of our home is an equally important consideration as geographical location. Is it a small home or a large home? Is it an open plan, or are our rooms separated by walls and doors? Are our ceilings high or low? Is our home split level, single or multi-story? What if I live in an apartment?
With modern heating appliances, there’s a solution for every home type that’s not only warm but also delivers style and atmosphere.
Most people envisage fireplaces and designer heating appliances as a focal point and decorative feature. While heating is a utility at its core, aesthetics plays a significant role. A heat source such as a fireplace is chosen just as much for décor and lifestyle as it is utility.
In short, selecting gas, wood or electricity is best determined via an understanding of your local climate, the layout of your home with its opportunities and limitations, your lifestyle, and heating desires. Clear on your intentions and circumstances, you’re better placed to research your options and have informed discussions with heating professionals.
Electricity. Ambience and Realism with the Cleanest of Flames
Electricity is becoming increasingly popular as many Australians have taken advantage of rooftop solar. Indeed, with the proper solar setup, many Australians are enjoying significantly reduced electricity bills and, in some cases, no bill at all. Even without a solar system, modern electrical heating appliances are built with tremendous efficiencies, making them comparatively budget-friendly.
The beauty of an electric fireplace is that you already have the key ingredient - electricity. Highly cost-effective, a portable electric fireplace gives heart and warmth to a modest space at an accessible price. Available in linear, firebox, and mobile designs, there are suites with a mantle and surrounds for the complete fireplace look without maintaining a traditional fireplace. More elaborate electric fireplace designs such as linear and fireboxes requires only a powerpoint, delivering the feel of a fireplace with the simplicity of ‘plug and play’.
Electricity is ideal for those homes where the installation of a flue isn’t possible or desired and where a wood fire isn’t practical or achievable. For example, it’s an attractive solution for those looking to beautify and heat their apartment with a fireplace.
Where there is no piped natural gas to your home, or you don’t have natural gas connected, electricity provides a speedy solution without the need for new service connections, which also delivers installation savings. By and large electrical fireplaces and heating options are, on average, significantly more affordable.
Most importantly, wherever you’re heating, there’s an electric fireplace that will suit a period or contemporary home design, with a flame that will look every bit as real as the warmth you feel.
Outdoor entertainers will appreciate the ease of outdoor electric heating. BBQ in the winter, but instead of taking dinner inside, eat out, surrounded by your wall mounted electric heat source. Not only do you have chill-breaking radiant heat, but wall-mounted options also take up no space. For those who love coffee and the newspaper on the patio or balcony, don’t give it up this winter, there’s an electric heat solution for your cold knees.
Gas Fireplaces. Real Flames, Phenomenal Warmth and no Wood Required
For many Australians, gas will always be the first choice for heating. The efficiency and convenience of gas can not be overstated and presents a premium option for those looking for the most desirable aesthetics and the best warming properties.
Linear, decorative, insert, and traditional fireplace models deliver homeowners a broad canvas to shape heating solutions while creating beautiful centrepieces for whichever rooms they grace.
Attracting a premium outlay for the device and installation, the cost benefits of gas are realised over time due to its efficiency. Those with large open-plan living spaces in cooler climates will benefit from the reach that gas heat will generate.
There are gas solutions for all room sizes; however, gas bayonets will be required for fitting. While requiring a flue, bayonet, and insulated base, small, free-standing units are relatively easy to install. They can provide incredible warmth for a relatively small outlay and ongoing costs. The flame is natural with a gas fireplace, providing a tranquil focal point in any living space that will surely relegate the television to yesterday’s news.
Should you have gas connected, or access to gas, bayonets placed in outdoor entertaining spaces provides gas heating solutions that turn your summer playground into a winter oasis free of the chills that send us indoors. Portable, wall, and floor mounted gas heating solutions invite heat source variety, creating warm zones that expand the valuable space of an outdoor area, ideal for large gatherings and parties, where guests will forget the frigid conditions.
The Romance of Fire
The traditions of wood fire heating will always remain popular. Woodfire heating is for those passionate about wood fires, and little needs to be said about the incredible warmth and the mesmerising nature of watching a fire. Nothing compares to the romance of fire; the wood, the stoking tools, the wood box, and wood collection, and watching a fire take on a cold day.
Those seeking the natural heat of a wood fire can select from in-built and free-standing models, with open and closed built-in models another choice. There’s a wide selection, covering small to large spaces, indoors and out. Not all homes will suit a wood fire heater, as a flue or chimney is essential and not always achievable in all homes.
If possible, in your home, it’s worth noting that nothing draws people to a space, and each other, like a wood fire focal point. A wood fire calls the congregation and inspires party and celebration to the same level as peacefulness and serenity.
For those considering wood fires, inbuilt or free-standing, you will first notice the average price point sits short of mid-way between electricity and gas. Wood fires benefit from an affordable outlay, particularly free-standing models, where minor trades work is required for installation.
Wood is suitable from the coldest regions in the south up to the Australian tropics. Regardless of the climate, there’s always a good moment for a warming fire at some time of the year.
The difference between wood and other fuel sources is the need for wood delivery or collection, plus regular cleaning and maintenance. Those using wood fire as their primary heating source will also need storage space for wood. For those in rural settings, wood may well be freely available on your property or via local community networks.
Wood fires are also alive and changing. They’re not set and forget. While regulating temperature is very simple across all models, fuel or wood must be added to keep fires to the desired temperature.
For those who see wood as the only way to heat, the added processes wood fire requires is part and parcel of the romance of fire. Open or closed, inbuilt or free-standing, nothing compares to the warmth and ambience a wood fire will provide.
The Home of Fire invites you to inspect the variety of heating options at our Holden Hill and Norwood showrooms. Our heating experts can explain and advise about heating solutions for your home.
We welcome internet and phone enquiries and look forward to warming your homes before the temperature drops.
Email us to arrange your Site Inspection!
Phone us on (08) 7123 2806 or visit our showrooms at 126 Magill Road, Norwood or 108 North East Road, Holden Hill.