When it comes to your home’s energy use, home heating and cooling are a big deal. Together, they make up a whopping 40% of energy use in an average Aussie home. That makes choosing an energy-efficient heater really important as the more efficient it is, the better off both the environment and your hip pocket will be.
But with so many types of heaters available on the market, where do you start? Let’s take a look at the things you’ll need to consider and how your home, climate and living circumstances (whether you’re renting or own your own home) can impact your choice.
Check your costs
When you buy a heater, you normally consider the initial cost to buy and install a heater - which can be hefty. But there are running costs too, and over time, they can have a bigger impact on your budget than you might think.
Running costs are typically associated with energy costs (the more energy a heater uses, the more your energy bills will cost you). Running costs can also include things like maintenance and cleaning.
Not all heaters are created equal, and some are actually much more expensive to run than others. To heat a large living area with an electric element heater in a cooler city like Canberra it costs on average $1,133 per year. Compare this to an aircon running cost. Energy-saving models like 5.5 star reverse cycle air conditioner only cost $223 per year. Over time, energy-efficient heaters can bring you huge savings.
If you’re looking to purchase your heater sooner so you can save on running costs, Brighte offers finance for sustainable improvements like energy-efficient heaters. You can check out more info here.
What do we mean when we talk about efficiency? It all comes down to energy in versus energy out. Simply put, heaters that use less energy than other heaters to heat the same size space are more efficient. Reverse cycle air conditioners are highly efficient, generating up to six units of heat from each unit of electricity it uses while many other electric heaters can’t produce more than one unit of heat per unit of electricity. Keep an eye out for a heater’s energy rating – the more stars it has the more efficient it is. Check out our guide to star ratings here.
Convenience and comfort
Your choice of heating should also suit the space you intend to heat and meet your heating needs. For example, if your home gets plenty of sun, then it might not take much heating to make it comfortable. You might also only need heating in certain rooms at certain times of the day or night, meaning a portable unit might be all you need. Choosing a heater that is more than what you need wastes energy, as well as spending more than what you need to on the unit itself.
It’s also important to consider the type of energy your heater uses to generate heat as some aren’t as good as others. Most heaters use either electricity or gas. Gas-powered heaters are more expensive to run - and because gas is a fossil fuel, using it for heating adds nasty vapours and carbon dioxide into the air, contributing to climate change.
Home is where your heater is
The best type of heater for you will often depend on the climate you live in, how insulated your home is, what government incentives your state offers, and whether you own your home or rent it, for example:
Climate: Homes in warmer climates will have different heating needs to homes in cooler climates. Consider whether you need to heat your home for just a few weeks of the year, versus three or even six months of the year. If it’s the latter, it’s worth investing in an energy-efficient heater.
Insulation: If your house isn’t properly insulated - or if you have unsealed windows or old floorboards with cracks for the breeze to pass through - your small panel heater is going to have to work overtime to heat your house. It’s also worth investing in things like insulation, double-glazing and proper window seals so that you can make the most of your heating.
Government rebates in your state: Depending on which state you live in, you can take advantage of government rebates to get an energy-efficient heater and start living sustainably sooner. The ACT Sustainable Household Scheme and the Tasmania Energy Saver Loan Scheme offer no-interest loans to eligible households. If you live in other states, keep an eye on your state government website.
Owning vs renting: our choices may be limited depending on whether you own your own home (meaning you can fix permanent heating in place) or you’re renting (meaning you’ll likely need something more temporary). If you’re renting, and you’re desperate for better heating, you can always offer to split the cost of a split system reverse cycle air conditioner - the savings you make on your energy bills - up to $908/year versus a plug-in electric heater - might cover the upfront dent in your wallet, especially if you are on a long lease.
Whatever your requirements might be, choosing a more energy-efficient model of heater is something everyone can do (including renters) to lower their energy bills and also help save on emissions.
If you’re interested in upgrading to more energy-efficient heating, discover how Brighte can help.