Heating and Cooling Your Home in Australia
When it comes to home appliances, heating and cooling our homes are among the biggest energy consumers. Over 40% of the average Australian household’s energy goes to home heating and air conditioning, which is why it’s so important to make smart choices about how your home is heated and cooled. To find out more about heating and cooling your home in Australia, keep reading below.
The best type of home heating and cooling
Choosing the best type of home heating and cooling method can make all the difference in your comfort and your energy bill and the first step is choosing if you want electric or gas heating and cooling. In general, gas heaters and efficient reverse-cycle air conditioners or heat pumps are among some of the most efficient methods of temperature control in your home, with a highly efficient 5-or-6-star model producing less than one-fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions of a standard electric heater.
There are so many different things to consider when deciding on how to best control the temperature of your home. Choosing the best home heating and cooling methods can make all the difference in your personal comfort, energy bill, and carbon footprint.
Gas or electric heating: Gas heating is still seen as the least expensive option, despite the rising gas prices. While they might cost more upfront, a gas space heater or gas-ducted heater will usually save you more over its lifetime than their electric cousins and be combined with other gas-based appliances like water heaters.
Portable or permanent: If you’re a renter, chances are you’ll want to invest in a portable air conditioner or space heater. While less energy efficient, these typically cost less upfront and can be moved when you move. However, if you’re a homeowner, the upfront cost of installing a more permanent climate control solution will probably be worth it as these systems tend to be more energy efficient and can reduce your annual energy bill.
What about underfloor? Underfloor heating (and cooling) is a great way to open up your home’s design without the need for visually unappealing radiators or vents. Heated water runs through your floor, slowly warming a space from the ground up.
Gas or electric….or hydronic: Hydronic heating is a different method of heating than gas or electric. Water is heated up and run through pipes, which heat up the ambient air without the need for super hot coils or units (great for little hands) or fans (no blowing around dust and aggravating allergies).
Consider solar: There are ways you can heat and cool your home with solar energy. Whether it’s a solar air conditioner, solar thermal heat pump, or solar hydronic heating, investing a little extra now can mean drastically reducing your energy bill later.
Reverse-cycle air conditioning
Reverse-cycle air conditioning, also known as a heat pump, is one of the most efficient methods of heating and cooling a home. They work by extracting the heat from the air, and either warming it (during the winter) or cooling it (during the summer, before sending it into your home or room. Not only to reverse-cycle air conditioners both heat and cool your home, they also dehumidify, and filter the air.
Reverse-cycle air conditioners can come in a number of different models including:
- Wall or window mounted, which only require one box installed into your window frame and are among the most affordable
- Split system, which require two components installed inside and outside, and are connected together by the pipes that cool the refrigerant
- Ducted air conditioners are the most expensive to install as they require ducting to connect all the rooms in your home to a single central area
Energy efficient heating and cooling
Choosing an energy efficient heating or cooling system can mean saving hundreds per year on your energy bills, even if energy efficient appliances might cost more upfront. Currently, not every home heating and cooling appliance is subject to energy efficiency standards but you can learn more by reading about energy efficiency standards in Australia, below.
What appliances are regulated under energy efficiency standards?
Many home appliances are subjected to Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), which are the regulations and standards a home appliance must meet in order to be sold in Australia. Of these appliances, most also need to display an energy efficiency label with a star-rating, so consumers can see at a glance how energy efficiency their new home appliance is. Below you can find which heating and cooling appliances must meet MEPS and come with an Energy Rating Label.
|System type||MEPS||Energy Rating Label|
|Air conditioners – single phase|
|Air conditioners – three phase||
|Air Conditioners - Evaporative|
|Air Conditioners – Single Duct Portable|
|Gas Space Heaters|
Most air conditioners have to meet energy efficiency requirements including, as of 2020, portable air conditioners. However gas space heaters, electric heaters, wood heaters, and evaporative air conditioners are not currently subject to energy efficiency regulation.
- Other home appliance regulated under MEP standards include:
- Clothes washers
- Clothes dryers
- Refrigerators and freezers
- Computer monitors & Televisions
How to read the Energy Rating Label
The Energy Rating Label appears on many different home appliances, including most air conditioners and some heaters (though energy labels found on gas space heaters are not overseen by the energy efficiency program). This label shows a star rating, from 1-6 or 1-10 stars. Simply put, the more stars an appliance has, the more energy efficient it is.
When it comes to heating and cooling, the label is slightly different. The new energy efficiency label for heating and cooling still displays the same star rating, but for three different climate zones. All you need to do is choose your climate zone and look at the number of stars and kWh per year within your zone.
Ways to reduce your home heating and cooling costs
If your household's heating and cooling is costing you an arm and a leg, you might need to look into turning your home into an energy efficient powerhouse. Increasing your home’s energy efficiency doesn’t need to be a massive investment, with even small changes in your lifestyle adding up to massive energy consumption savings.
Check the thermostat: During the summer, your air conditioning should be set between 25º and 26º Celcius. In the winter, keep your heating between 18º and 20º Celcius. Any additional degree of heating or cooling can add 10% of your running costs to your energy bill.
Stop drafts: Adding draft stoppers (also known as draft snakes, or draft blockers) around the bottom edge of your doors and windows can help keep the heat inside during the winter, and outside during the summer. Draft stoppers are long, thin, pillows you place around the edge of doors and windows to block drafts and can either be made by the DIY-types, or purchased in fun designs and patterns.
Insulated curtains: Insulated curtains are a great way to not only keep your home at the optimal temperature, but also block out light and sound. In the winter, insulated curtains keep the heat inside your home while during the summer they keep the sunlight out, preventing a greenhouse effect.
Upgrade your windows: If you live in an old house, your windows are probably not energy efficient. Replacing old windows with a double or triple-glazed option can save you up to $100 per year on energy costs while keeping your home more comfortable.
Seal the cracks: Make sure to weatherize your home by caulking or weather stripping anywhere air leaks. Add caulking around non-moving fixtures like between a wall and a window, while weather strips can be added to moving fixtures like doors. Even electrical outlets should be sealed, as they can cause drafts too.
Insulate: Hire a technician to come to your home and add insulation. Insufficient insulation in walls, on the ceiling, or in crawl spaces can amount to huge energy losses, and adding insulation can help add to the total value of your home.