ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas IMAGES The fireplace
What are the options when it comes to heating and how do I know which is best for my home?
There are three main types of heaters according to Australian consumer group, Choice. These include gas heaters, electric heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioners.
If you only need to heat a small space, electric heaters are a useful option. They are usually portable, reasonably priced and inexpensive to run if you’re not using them for extended periods or in larger areas.
Gas heaters have the advantages of being efficient and affordable. On the downside, they produce small quantities of water vapour and carbon monoxide. Flued heaters will channel these waste products outside, while unflued heaters release them into the home, which means the room being heated must be kept ventilated.
Reverse-cycle air conditioners are probably the best choice if you have larger spaces to heat. They are more expensive than the other types of heater to buy and install, but are energy efficient, you can control the thermostat and timer, and they provide consistent warmth.
What is the most economical option – to install and to run?
In order to choose the most economical system for your home you need to identify your heating needs, including the number of people and amount of space you want to heat. The Government of South Australia website features a ‘best heater for your needs’ table, which you may find helpful wherever you live.
What is the most environmentally-friendly way to keep my home at a comfortable temperature?
Reducing your need for artificial heating (and cooling) should be a priority in any major renovation project. So if you’re at the design stage of a renovation, make sure you incorporate passive design principles to maximise energy efficiency in your home from the outset. It’s also important to insulate the roof, walls and floor of your home effectively.
Post renovation, you can keep your home warmer by making sure you allow the winter sun into your home in daytime, and keep the warmth in by drawing curtains or closing blinds when it starts to get dark. Make sure you only heat the rooms you are using and close the doors to the rest.
What is passive design and how can it help keep my home warm?
Passive design works with the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range in a building and so reduces the need for artificial heating and cooling. It is the least expensive way to heat a home according to Government website, Your Home, which also explains that design for passive solar heating aims to keep out summer sun and let in winter sun, while ensuring that the building envelope (walls, windows, floors and roof) helps keep the heat inside in winter and allows it to escape in summer. Incorporating passive design principles in your building or renovation can therefore help you reduce the need for artificial heating in winter.
How important is insulation?
As much as 60% of your heating can be lost through walls and ceilings, so effective insulation is vital if you want to keep your energy use – and bills – down. Another 10-20% of your heating could be lost via windows, so it makes sense to choose thick curtains, ideally combines with pelmets, that will help contain the warmth in your home.
Similarly, 10-20% of heat can dissipate through the floor. So, if you have a suspended timber or concrete floor, underfloor insulation is a wise investment and has the added advantage of helping soundproof your home. If you can’t install underfloor insulation, you should at least make sure there are no gaps between floorboards, and if you have stone or tile floors, be sure to put down some generous-sized rugs.
Are there any government incentives for homeowners who install heating?
There’s a range of homeowner incentives available, including the ACT’s Wood Heater Replacement Program (currently on trial) and Victoria’s Energy Saver Incentive. Schemes vary from state to state and are subject to change, so it’s worth checking the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website to find out about householder entitlements.
How long does it take to install reverse-cycle air conditioning?
Ideally it’s best to install reverse-cycle air conditioning when a property is built. If you’re renovating and want to install a new ducted system into your property, there will be a number of factors that will contribute to how long the installation takes. These include the home’s dimensions, floor plan and number of storeys, the type of construction and the quality and quantity of insulation currently in place.
We recommend talking to your renovation specialist about your particular needs in order to get an accurate estimate of timing.
How much does it cost to install reverse-cycle air conditioning?
Choice advises that a ducted reverse-cycle air conditioning system normally costs from at least $5,000 (including installation), but that costs can easily run to more than double this figure depending on the size and specification of the system to be installed. Again, we recommend talking to your renovation specialist for a costing that will cover the specific requirements of your project.
Who is responsible for removing/disposing of my old heating system when the new one is installed?
It’s always wise to check who is responsible for removal and disposal of old systems, but if you’re working with Refresh Renovation you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing we’ll take care of everything for you.
If you would like to discuss heating ideas and options for your home renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.