Turn Up The Heat
Snuggle up beside your fireplace, stove or heater this winter, and revel in the fact that it’s the season for staying in. We all have our preferences when it comes to home heating, so before you make the crucial decision consult House and Home’s essential guide.
Fireplaces are the old school heating style, in true vintage fashion they have swung right around and become trendy again. Fireplaces have a rich history of their own and come in many salvaged and reproduction styles, but there are stylish choices for contemporary homes too.
Need to know: The fireplace is made up of three parts. The mantel which is the exterior shape and is available in solid wood, (oak and mahogany being the most popular), marble and stone (usually sand and lime stone). The insert, which surrounds the chimney flue and protects the mantel from direct flames and is available in cast iron, granite and marble; the hearth which is the base for your solid fuel and is available in granite or the gas or electric fire, which will replace the solid fuel hearth.
If buying salvaged fireplaces make sure solid wood mantles are structurally sound (most dealers will spruce them up before selling) and cast iron inserts have no cracks, as they may not stand up to the heat of your fire.
You can fuel your fireplace with solid fuel, such as wood, peat briquettes or coal, piped natural gas or, if you live outside major towns and cities, LPG bottled gas. If you don’t have a flue, there are many attractive electric fires which will give the desired effect and are easy to install.
Before you choose your fireplace make sure to get a survey of your home. Your fireplace supplier or a specialist fitter will offer this service and they will check floor to ceiling height, chimney-breast and chamber size to ensure the correct proportions.
Hole in the wall fireplaces are strongly in demand as are simple, contemporary mantles in stone and marble.
Stoves have come on in leaps and bounds since their heyday as a kitchen centrepiece. These days they are a safe and more efficient alternative to the open fire as they utilise a third more of the heat dispensed than by their open fire counterparts. As well as heating the room they can also work off a back boiler to heat water and radiators around the house. They can also prove to be safer than open fires and will reduce gas and electric bills.
Need to know: Most stoves are available in cast iron, with optional enamel coating, and porcelain. There also certain styles which are tiled. Most new designs will incorporate a glass fronted door on the front to hold in heat, while older models will use mica instead of glass, a natural heat proof material. Older stoves are usually lined with firebrick lining, but if you buy an antique stove without this you can source more from the original manufacturers Godin in France and Morso in Denmark. A nickel mix is also available which gives the stove an American style silver finish.
Stoves are either multifunctional or dedicated to one fuel and can range from simply wood burning to coal, briquettes, turf and anthracite fuels. Wood pellets are relatively new on the market, but can only be used by pellet burning stoves, which also require electricity to run. Eco logs are also available which are compressed wood shavings made into briquettes, and are more environmentally friendly than coal and anthracite. Briquettes and turf leave more ash than wood and eco logs, but in general stoves will leave behind less ash than an open fire as the heat is consistent. There are also options for natural gas, LPG (liquid bottled gas), oil and electric fuel sources, although electric stoves are not normally a serious heat source, more for decorative effect.
For solid fuel stoves, your fitter will extend the flue straight up an existing chimney. It is more common to brick up the chimney after installation for a flush finish, but this is not necessary if you prefer the stove to be recessed, although for heat efficiency it is better to have your stove further out in the room. A chimney is not always necessary and a flue can be fitted elsewhere, although it is vital you have access to an outside wall or roof. The process is not so simple when using gas, oil or electricity, but whatever fuel type you are using you will need a professional fitter, details of which can be given by your supplier.
Heaters are no longer hidden behind sofas and sideboards, they have taken on a life of their own and are now centre stage art in the room. The most economical and efficient heating system, heat is conducted around the home from one main source (usually a boiler or a furnace) either by a dry system, that is hot air, or the more common wet system using hot water.
Need to know: Steel is the main material used for radiators and it can be finished in many colours, including chrome, white and nickel, while the antique varieties are mainly available in cast iron, which should not effect their performance, depending in the condition. Tubular copper styles can be made to order.
The most imaginative designs are appearing as towel racks for the bathroom, but be warned: nobody wants to get out of the shower and burn themselves on a fancy intrusive radiator, so these designs should be left for bigger bathrooms.
The main fuels used for radiators are gas or oil, connected to a boiler. There are also dual fuel models available that will utilise your heating system during winter, then run off electricity when the heating is not being used. Electric varieties tend to prove more costly in the long run. Solid fuel boilers are also available, although the boiler will required a conventional flue. Solar energy is also increasingly in demand here in Ireland, utilising the power of the sun to heat both the home and the water.
While electric heaters can be fitted easily, radiators must be fitted by a professional. Make sure that you consult your supplier before you purchase, as the shape and size of your room as well as what levels of your heat you are comfortable with will determine which output levels are suitable for you. The most common piping system is the two pipe system which can simultaneously pipe hot water to the radiators and pipe cool water back to the boiler, giving maximum control over heat output. Traditionally radiators are fitted under the window because of the draft, but with many houses now fitted with double glazing this practice is no longer necessary.
Over 2,500 square meters of solar paneling have been fitted in homes in Ireland.
While Passive Solar Energy, the positioning of the house to maximise exposure to the sun, is available, the most common solar technology for home heating is Active Solar Energy. This uses solar panels to collect heat from the sun and absorbs radiation to heat your home and your water.
Both systems will only contribute to your heating systems, but you will get the best results by the correct orientation. Your supplier should do a detailed survey of your house before fitting to ensure maximum potential.
Solar panels will have a positive impact on the house energy rating, with the rating increasing by 15%, which is now compulsory when selling a house built after 2006.
It is advisable that a new cylinder is capable of including a solar coil, otherwise you will have to replace your cylinder if fitting solar panels in the future.
Fires of the Future
The latest development is wood burning fires means that we can enjoy the look of an open fire with all the benefits of a stove. Wide glass fronted fires means that while we enjoy the look of the fire, additional flues are being utilised to heat the rest of the house, as well as your water and radiators. These fires use new technology and should always be installed by a specialist fitter.
Under Floor Heating
Most heating specialist will offer some form of under floor heating and if you are planning on building or renovating your home consider this ancient form of heating, where hot water is piped through a series of continuous loops under the floor. It is generally more expensive than radiators, but in the long run you could see yourself saving money. Radiators must heat a much larger space, while an under floor heater does not emit as much heat per square metre because of its wider coverage. Therefore the boiler consumes less fuel, running costs are reduced. Each room is easily controlled and there is uniform heat throughout (no cold spots!).
House and Home Shop Guide:
- Hearth and Home, Unit 1, Fonthill Retail Park, Dublin 22. Tel: 01 620 0100.
- Antique Fireplaces, Unit 23, Spruce Avenue, Stillorgan industrial Park, Sandyford, Dublin. Tel: 01 294 1556
- Arcon Heating and Plumbing Supplies, 6 Glenview Industrial Estate, Heberton Road, Rialto, Dublin 12. Tel: 01 454 1384.
- Buckley Fireplaces, Ballyedmunduff Road, Stepaside, Dublin 18. Tel: 01 294 6863
- C&R Fireplaces, 162 Capel Street, Dublin 1. Tel: 01 873 1728
- Fenton Fires, Stanley House, Church Road, Greystones, Tel: 01 287 4310
- Fieaga Bath & Tile, Unit 1, Advance Business Park, Donore Road, Drogheda, Co Louth, Tel: 041 987 8111
- Geddis Fireplaces, The Riverside, Young Street, Lisburn, Co, Antrim, Tel: 048 9023 9037
- Glorney Chimneys, 42 Sundrive Road, Kimmage, Dublin 12, Tel: 01492 1355.
- Harding Fireplaces, The Green, Gowran, Kilkenny, Tel: 056 772 6177
- Heating Distributors, 32 North Park, North Road, Finglas, Dublin 11, Tel: 01 864 8950
- Irish Solar Power, Monaleen, Castletroy, Limerick, Tel: 1800 476 527; Web: www.irishsolarpower.ie
- Kilkenny Living, Ballyhale, Co. Kilkenny, Tel: 056 776 8730
- Lamartine Ltd., Ballymount Road, Walkinstown, Dublin 12. Tel: 01 450 2662
- Ovne Antique Stoves, Millside, Gortroe Leap, Co. Cork, Tel: 028 34917
- Potterton Myson, Belgard Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24, Tel: 01 4590870
- Premier Castings, Unit 1, Canal Road, Canal Road Business Park, Portarlington, Co. Laois, Tel: 057 864 2920
- Radiator Plus, Unit 4, Albany Business Park, Kilcoole Industrial Estate, Co. Wicklow, Tel: 01 287 8077
- Robinson Stone, 79 Lower Dorset Street, Dublin 1, Tel: 01 830 1301
- Murphy Heating, Kinvara, Co. Galway, Tel: 091 637 159
- Telfords, Clonminam Industrial Estate, Portlaois, Co. Laois, Tel: 057 862 0952
- The Victorian Salvage and Joinery Company, South Gloucester Street, Dublin 2, Tel: 01 672 7000
- Treanor Stone Tech, Clontibret, Co Monaghan, Tel: 047 80444
- Waterford Stanley, nationwide, Tel: 1850 302 502
- Zeus, Fireplace Design, Cloghans, Ballina, Co Mayo, Tel 098 24719