Winter's baffling dips and dives - ranging from mild to Arctic - and more predicted cold spells ahead, mean it's important to have effective, versatile heating at home.
While turning up the thermostat on chilly nights is fine, it’s worth looking at other solutions too, in order to maximise warmth, minimise heat-loss (which could be needlessly firing up those energy bills, too), and add raise the style stakes as well.
Turn up the heat by following advice on heating solutions from the experts, which are practical, economic, functional and stylish...
FOCUS ON FIRE
A real fire always adds a special ambience to a room, and serves as a focal point around which everyone can gather.
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Although, in reality, a real open fire often isn’t the most efficient solution, only warming up the immediate space - a significant proportion of the heat generated (up to 80%) will be lost up the chimney - the psychological and aesthetic benefits can be worth the investment.
No chimney? That needn’t mean your hopes of enjoying the crackle of wood, and glowing embers turn to ashes, because with new ethanol fires, you can have all the beauty, warmth and comfort of a real flame, but without the need for a chimney or flue. They’re odour-free and ecologically friendly too, as the material’s extracted from plants.
FEEL THE HEAT: Chesney’s, a leading supplier of luxury fireplaces and stoves, has a traditional and contemporary range. If you have a chimney, a Burlington Surround, from £1,775 (ex-VAT), is understated and elegant, and teams well with a Soho Fire Basket For Dogs, £375 (ex-VAT). Its ethanol fires come in a modern ribbon burner design, or a classic fire-in-basket style, and incorporate remote controls, starting from £2,730.
Homebase’s selection of ethanol fires features a modern Eton Bio Ethanol Fireplace, for only £169.
Gas coal fires, often indistinguishable from the real thing, throw out a surprising amount of heat in my experience, and B&Q’s impressive selection includes a Focal Point Lulworth Manual Control Inset Fire, with a pebble fuel bed, £154. If you’re all electric, Dimplex’s selection features a Whitmore Opti-myst Inset Fire, with flame and smoke effect, from around £549.99.
Wood burning stoves, once only found in country cottages, are hugely fashionable these days, sought after for both their look - many are design statements in themselves - and their eco-friendly credentials.
“Stoves are designed to burn wood, coal or smokeless fuel. As well as heating rooms, some also heat water and a limited number of radiators. All stoves use heat more efficiently and can be lit and produce heat in minutes,” says Nick Sloane, managing director at stove specialists, Jotul UK.
“A stove prevents heat loss up the chimney, even when not lit, and one burning only wood operates at around 80% efficiency, compared to around 15% for an open fire, and burning wood is classed as carbon neutral, and burns more cleanly than coal or smokeless fuel. Many models are now approved for burning wood in smoke control areas.”
FEEL THE HEAT: Modern stoves, with as much glass as possible for viewing flames, are the hottest choice. Jotul’s handsome Scan 68 wood burning stove series, from £1,900, comes with or without side windows.
Morso cast iron stoves include an eye-catching S160-32 three-sided stove, from £5,050, which would be a dramatic room-divider in an open plan area, while a Morso 1418, from £1,183, would suit a more period room.
Euroheat’s Hwam wood burning stoves start from £1,430 (ex VAT), and I love their fun London Fireguard, depicting a London skyline, from £142.80.
Radiators ceased to be ‘wallflowers’ long ago, when designers - especially in Europe - turned their attention and transformed them into works of art.
“We know these days that people view radiators as far more than just a heat source, and they’re looking for high quality, individual products, which are efficient but also in harmony with the design of the home,” says Nick Duggan, managing director at The Radiator Centre.
“One of our most popular models is The Big One, renowned for its high heat output and strong powerful design. For colour and impact, the funky Mod-u radiator is an outright winner.”
FEEL THE HEAT: The Big One, made in Italy and renowned for its high heat output, from £785-£2,123, is one of The Radiator Centre’s bestsellers, while for those who like funky colour, the square Mod-u radiator, from £1,500, is hard to beat. This company also has a selection of radiators made from glass to which any design, image or photo can be applied, starting from £695.
Vasco’s is another company which is proving radiators rock, and its Carre Half-Round radiator, with curved towel rail, from £1,392, is dramatic in carmine red.
Don’t overlook windows. According to experts, around a third of a home’s total heat-loss escapes through windows and doors - so double glazing is a sound investment, or consider draught-proofing and other solutions, including heavy drapes or shutters.
FEEL THE HEAT: Duette blinds claim to help lower heating bills by up to 25% by preventing heat-loss, as they have an insulating honeycomb design, and fitted made-to-measure blinds in white start at around £150.
Shutters are another way of helping lock warmth into the home - I have these and they are effective - and there are some brilliant ranges around at competitive prices. Shutterly Fabulous’ range starts at £290 per square metre for standard colours, and custom finishes from £320 per square metre.
B&Q: 0845 850 0175/diy.com
Chesney’s: 020 7627 1410/chesneys.co.uk
Duette: 08000 663 662/duette.co.uk
Euroheat: 01885 491 100/euroheat.co.uk
Homebase: 0345 077 8888/homebase.co.uk
Jotul: 01527 506 010/www.jotuluk.com
Morso: 01788 554 410/morso.co.uk
The Radiator Centre: 01727 840 344/theradiatorcentre.com
Shutterly Fabulous: 0800 012 6615/www.shutterlyfabulous.com
Vasco: 01254 704 420/vasco.eu