In Australia, 40% of all energy usage in the home comes from heating and cooling. Victoria’s climate means that we experience significant cold in winters so heating is an important aspect of our homes. Heating our homes is the highest user of energy for many 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, 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, and in turn bring social, health and wellbeing benefits. A warmer, or more comfortable home in hot weather can improve the experience of some health conditions.
Reverse-cycle air conditioners: Energy-efficient and great for large spaces
To heat or cool individual rooms and large spaces, reverse-cycle air conditioners, also known as split-systems, are one of the most energy-efficient options, which means you’ll reduce your electricity bills and save money on running costs each year.
Split systems are great for heating and cooling single rooms, while a ducted system might work better for a bigger home. Split systems include a wall-mounted unit and an external unit, connected with pipes. A ducted air conditioning system 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.
The upfront cost of purchasing and installing a reverse-cycle air conditioner can range from $1,500 to $5,000, while ducted systems are up to around $12,000 or $15,000. Look for the model that suits the layout of your house and has the right capacity for your needs.
Calculations from Choice found that a reverse-cycle air conditioner is about a third of the cost of an electric heater to run in the same space.
Zoning your home, either with a ducted system or by closing off areas with doors, allows you to heat only the areas that you are using, and is a more efficient way to heat a room.
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 cent. And don’t forget to turn it off when you go to sleep or aren’t home.
Our Home Heating and Cooling Buyers Guide has more information about how reverse cycle air conditioners work, plus advice on replacing old gas, electric and wood-fired hearing with modern electric equivalents.
Electric heaters: Portable, affordable and super for small spaces
Portable electric heaters are cheap and suited to short periods of use.
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 in a small area, without breaking the bank. It could be suitable for apartment dwellers who may not be able to install air conditioning.
Portable electric heaters aren’t as energy-efficient as split-system air conditioners, and can be comparatively expensive to run, especially if your aim is to heat a larger space like a room, or run it for long periods. Cheaper units might not last very long so you could have to replace it sooner. They cannot cool rooms like a split-system can.
Heat pump hydronic systems: Cost effective and energy-efficient
Hydronic Heating can be an efficient option for a comfortable heating and cooling system.
Hydronic systems circulate hot or cold water, through radiator panels in rooms or under the floor. It converts heat from the outside air to hot water that is piped through to the home to provide ‘radiant’ heating. This form of heating could suit sufferers of asthma or respiratory issues.
Wondering how hydronic systems measure up against reverse-cycle air conditioners?
Both options can be electric and energy-efficient, yet they function differently due to their unique heating and cooling mechanisms. When considering hydronic systems, it's important to ensure proper insulation for the pipes to maintain their energy efficiency, and it's worth noting that they involve a higher initial investment for purchase, installation, and operation compared to reverse-cycle air conditioners.
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 an average of $750 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.
Want to learn more about switching other energy-efficient electric appliances?
To help you save on bills and cut carbon emissions, we have 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.