Cosy on up this winter – we get the lowdown on what’s hot…
On the stove
While the charm of an open fire in the winter months can’t really be beaten, stoves are really coming into their own, offering a more convenient way to provide warmth and that atmospheric flickering light. They can be safer, you don’t need a traditional chimney, and they give out up to 90 per cent fewer emissions than an open fire
So how do we pick the stove for us? Size is everything. According to Vicky Naylor, general manager at ACR Stoves, sales of smaller 5Kw output stove are increasing. This is mainly due to less heat being required in homes due to today’s better insulation levels alone but also because they are being installed into smaller rooms. As for the design, she adds: “Most consumers want to see as much of the fire as possible, so the larger the glass viewing area the better. The increase in open-plan living spaces also means that many homeowners are looking for a stove which can be placed in the middle of the room and enjoyed from all angles, so stoves with more than one viewing window are also increasingly popular.”
According to managing director of Eurostove, Chris Baines, overheating a room can be as much of a problem as underheating: “It is important to have a site survey conducted by a registered professional to survey the proposed installation.”
If you live in a smokeless zone, you can still consider a stove. Adds Chris: “If your stove is labelled SE or Smoke Exempt this means that it has been tested and is DEFRA approved. This approval allows you to burn wood in a smokeless area, and these stoves are also fit to burn approved smokeless fuels.”
Heating your home isn’t just about the electrics, and many modern houses keep warm during the cold winter months with highly efficient double-glazed PVC windows. These work by trapping the heat inside as well as the side benefits of keeping out neighbourhood noise and requiring little-to-no maintenance. A common complaint about PVC windows though is that they can detract from the period charm of a home. Castrads’ Jayson says: “Many modern houses have highly efficient double-glazed PVC windows; great for efficiency but not style. Wooden frames are traditionally less efficient, but with modern advances, you can now have the best of both worlds. Super-thin double glazing has been developed, allowing the use of thin replica window frames, which are much more aesthetically pleasing.”
Blinds or curtains are also great solutions and can offer fantastic insulation trapping air and reducing heat loss through a single pane window by a very significant 14 per cent. Look out for layered curtains with interlining.
If fireplaces and stoves are not a practical heating option, consider a stylish cast iron radiator that can be a focal point of the room. Says Jayson Branch, creative director at bespoke radiator company Castrads: “A cast iron radiator has the power to not only make an elegant statement in your home but alleviates the need for garish white panel radiators often found in newer builds. Investing in statement cast iron radiators will add a touch of charm to your home, with the added reliability and efficiency of modern styles.”
Sustainable living and eco-friendly homes have seen a
real push in recent years, and how we heat our homes is integral to this.
When it comes to stoves, look at their eco credentials. Says ACR Stoves’ Vicky: “Some stoves are SIA EcoDesign approved. EcoDesign is the new approval which will replace CE approval from 2022. Members of the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) have signed up to ensure that their new models are approved immediately, rather than
when this requirement comes into force.”
“EcoDesign aims to make stoves cleaner and more efficient in the battle to improve air quality, amongst other things. The SIA is trying to ensure that wood burning stoves can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, so an SIA EcoDesign approved stove will be one of the most environmentally friendly and efficient stoves available in the market.”
And for those fancying a fireplace? “There are plenty of eco-friendlier electric fireplaces on the market which don’t release any toxic fumes into your home,” says Castrads’ Jayson.
There are many ways to save on energy consumption, too, according to Cheam-based heating, plumbing and electrical experts Smith & Byford – its top heating hacks include: servicing your boiler annually, replacing boilers older than ten-years-old (a new A-rated boiler could reduce your gas bills by up to £350 per year) and ensuring bulky furniture doesn’t trap warmth from radiators. And make a radiator reflector by wrapping a thin sheet of card in tinfoil which you can place behind the radiator. Heat can also be lost up the chimney through an open fireplace. If you don’t use your fireplace you should consider a chimney balloon, which prevents any incoming cold air or escaping heat.