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Heating and cooling: what's best for your home?

From cool winter nights to hot summer days, an energy-efficient heating and cooling system is important for year-round comfort.

Here are some simple tips to help you select the best system for your home.

In Australia, 40% of all energy usage in the homeExternal Link comes from heating and cooling. Victoria's climate means that we experience significant cold in winters and that heating is an important aspect of our homes. A warmer home can improve the experience of some health conditions. Heating our homes is the highest user of energy for most of us and costs us the most to run.

What is Thermal Comfort and why is it important?

The word thermal relates to heat or temperature, and so thermal comfort is simply a way of describing whether you feel too hot, or too cold in a space. Better heating and cooling in your home, can help to improve your level of thermal comfort.

You should consider an energy-efficient reverse cycle air conditioner because it serves all seasons, is more efficient and better for the environment.

Switching to an energy-efficient reverse cycle air conditioner can provide greater thermal comfort which in turn brings social, health and wellbeing benefits.

1. Reverse-cycle air conditioners: Energy-efficient and great for large spaces

To heat or cool individual rooms and large spaces, reverse-cycle air conditioners are one of the most energy-efficient ways to heat and cool your home, which means you’ll reduce your electricity bills and save money in the long run.

While the upfront cost of purchasing and installing a reverse-cycle air conditioner can range from anywhere from $1,200 to $15,000+ for purchase and installation, you’ll save more money long-term due to their energy-efficient nature. In fact, calculations from Choice reveal that running a reverse-cycle air conditioner for a whole year costs nearly the same amount as running an electric heaterExternal Link for just more than three months during winter.

The most efficient way to use your system is by zoning it. This allows you to split the house into different zones, so that you can limit it to only heat the areas you’re using. Look for the model that suits the layout of your house and has the right capacity for your needs.

Split systems are great for cooling single rooms, while a ducted system is perfect for bigger homes. Split systems include a wall-mounted unit and an external unit, connected with pipes. A ducted air conditioning system, on the other hand, has air conditioning vents in the ceiling – or sometimes, the floor – that’s linked to one unit.

Ducted systems are generally more expensive than split systems as they are designed for and integrated into the architecture of larger homes. The size of your space will determine which air conditioner is best for your home and lifestyle.

Consider referring to our Home Heating and Cooling Buyers GuideExternal Link which has more information about how reverse cycle air conditioners work and advice on replacing old gas, electric and wood-fired hearing with modern electric equivalents.

2. Electric heaters: Portable, affordable and super for small spaces

Looking for a compact heating system that is cheap and suited to short periods of use? An electric heater could suit your needs.

With no installation needed and a wide range of price options - starting from around $30 – this is a solution for providing an extra bit of warmth, without breaking the bank. It could be suitable for renters or apartment dwellers who may not be able to install air conditioning.

However, as electric heaters aren't as energy-efficient as split-system air conditioners, they do add to your electricity bills. Cheaper units might not last very long so you could have to replace it sooner.

Our energy efficiency and cost-saving tip? Set your temperature between 18°C to 20°C. Every degree higher will increase your electricity bills by approximately 10 per centExternal Link . And don’t forget to turn it off when you go to sleep or aren’t home.

3. Heat pump hydronic systems: Cost effective and energy-efficient

Looking for a comfortable heating and cooling system that also helps to reduce carbon emissions? Look no further than heat pump hydronic systems.

These appliances work by circulating hot or cold water – or another fluid – through radiator panels in rooms or under the floor. It converts heat from the outside air to hot water to provide 'radiant' heating. This form of heating is ideal for sufferers of asthma or respiratory issues.

So how do hydronic systems compare to air conditioners?

While both can be electric and energy-efficient, they work differently. Due to the way that each system heats and cools, hydronic air-to-water heat pumps can be better at heatingExternal Link while air-to-air conditioners are more suited to cooling.

Power your heating and cooling with solar

Consider a switch to solar to save on your energy bills throughout your home and reduce the running costs of your heating and cooling system. Typical households can save up to $1073 per year on their electricity bills when they install solar panels. Solar Victoria has rebates and interest-free loans available for solar PV so you can start the journey towards home electrification.

To help you save on bills and cut carbon emissions, we've written a guide on going all-electric in your home. In this article, you’ll find helpful information on switching to electric appliances. Find out how to go electric.

Reviewed 23 August 2023

Make the switch to electric

All-electric homes, powered by solar, can save you thousands on energy bills every year. Find out everything you need to know about making the switch.

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