Heating and cooling for households

A comfortable home without heating or cooling

It’s not always easy to keep buildings warm in winter and cool in summer, without relying on expensive-to-run heating and cooling systems. The best way to keep any building’s inside temperature comfortable is by improving what is called the ‘building envelope’.

 

Source: Your Home

As you can see, there is a lot of heat loss that occurs through the ceiling, external walls, floor, windows and gaps.

In order to make your home more comfortable it is important to:

Once you’ve done this, it’s then important to choose an efficient form of heating or cooling. Heating and cooling can be responsible for around a quarter of the typical household’s energy bills, so it’s important to make the best choices possible. Some heaters and air conditioners can last for 20 years so carefully consider all your options and make the best choice for your home.

Don’t forget that fans are also a great way to cool your home and circulate cool air (and on reverse they can also circulate warm air back down into a room after it naturally rises).

Summer cooling

Cooling appliance Approximate annual running cost
Fans $5-$10
Split system air conditioners $50-$265
Ducted air conditioners $265-$475

Data sourced from Ausgrid’s Cooling Guide.

As you can see fans are by far the cheapest way of cooling, so when you can use your fan as much as possible.

The running cost of air conditioners can vary quite significantly depending on the type of the air conditioner. That is why it is very important to select an energy-efficient air conditioner with the highest  star rating. There’s a full list of star ratings of appliances available online at energyrating.gov.au.

Winter heating

Heating appliance Approximate annual running cost
Gas heater $150
Electric panel, convection or fan heater $300
Split system reverse cycle air conditioner $100

Data sourced from Ausgrid’s Cooling Guide.

As you can see, split system reverse cycle air conditioners is the cheapest form of heating!

Isn’t gas heating cheaper to run?

You’ve probably heard that gas heating is cheaper but this is changing. The cost of gas continues to rise each year, which means that the running costs for powering a split system reverse-cycle air conditioner is now cheaper than powering a gas heater! Gas is also a fossil fuel, which is why many households are now choosing to move away from using natural gas. Also, if you have a solar power system, it can be even more cost-effective (and climate friendly) to heat and cool your home with a reverse cycle air conditioner!

So if you are looking at heating and cooling your home efficiently, we highly recommend investing in an efficient split system reverse cycle air conditioner.

What size do I need?

It’s very important to ensure the air conditioner is the right size for your home. If it is too big, it will use excess electricity, while if it is too small, it will have to work harder and won’t be appropriate for your needs. To find out what size is best for your home, it is important to have a home visit. Some of the things an assessor will look at include:

  • Room orientation
  • Window size
  • Ceiling insulation.

Do big homes need ducted air conditioning?

Where possible, we highly recommend installing a split system over a ducted air conditioner for the following reasons:

  • Ducted air conditioners are much more expensive to purchase and install
  • The installation of ducted systems can be complex
  • The running costs of ducted air conditioners is much higher than split system air conditioners
  • It is much more energy-efficient to only heat or cool the room that you are using!
  • Ducted air conditioners usually require much more power to run, which means it is unlikely your solar PV system will be big enough to fully offset the power needed

I already have aircon, should I upgrade it?

The technology of reverse cycle air conditioners has improved significantly in recent years, which means that efficient models are much cheaper to run. If your existing air conditioner has some of the following signs, it might be worth replacing:

  • Excessive noise
  • Costly repairs
  • Unusually high energy costs
  • Uneven cooling or heating

What temperature should I heat or cool to?

In winter we suggest heating to 18°- 20°C and in summer cool to 24°- 27°C. For each degree higher or lower, the air conditioner uses about 10% more energy!