Heater running costs and tips to reduce your energy bills

With winter around the corner, it’s important to understand how much electricity or gas your heater is going to use and how you can reduce the cost. This is also crucial information for deciding on the right type of heating to have installed in a new home.

There are a number of factors which will affect the cost of heating your home.

Gas vs Electric Heating Cost

The first factor to consider when purchasing a new unit is whether to get gas or electric heating. In almost all cases gas heating will be the least expensive option for heating a whole home. In many cases, it will be cheaper to heat your whole home with gas than to just heat one room in your home with a portable electric heater.

Sustainability Victoria estimates that the cost of heating a medium sized room (30-40m2) with an electric panel or fan (4 kW) would cost $825 per year, compared to gas heating at almost a quarter of the cost at $225. The price to heat an entire home (160-170 m2) with gas still comes in cheaper at $670 with an efficient system.1

However, not all electric heating is so expensive to run. A split system air conditioner can provide electric heating at approximately the same cost as gas heating which can be the best option if gas is not an option available to you, although reverse cycle systems have a significantly higher upfront cost. If we compare the cost of the units of two 20 kW ducted systems a gas system can be purchased for approximately $20002 compared to $60003 for a 20 kW electric ducted split system.

Energy efficient systems

Another factor to consider when choosing between heaters is the efficiency of the unit. The energy efficiency of the heating unit can make a major difference in your annual power usage.

High-efficiency heaters will attract a higher price at the point of sale, however, this extra investment can be paid back by reduced power and gas bills in the years to come. Inefficient systems could cost you up to $200 per year in increased utility bills.

Your unit requires maintenance

Your heater requires maintenance to remain efficient. It is recommended to have your heater serviced every 12-18 months. Part of a standard service will include cleaning out all of the dust and dirt that has accumulated in the unit, cleaning the filters and cleaning the vents. A professional technician will also check the air intakes and the internal workings of the heater and ensure that everything is running smoothly and stop any minor problems from developing into serious breakdowns.

Regular servicing can reduce your energy consumption by up to 10%. Contact a local professional heating company to organized scheduled maintenance at the start of each winter season.

Tips to reduce running costs

  • set your thermostat to between 18 and 20°C in winter. Each degree higher can increase your running costs by up to 10%.
  • close doors to rooms that don’t need heating
  • shut the curtains and blinds at night
  • make sure the system is turned off when no one is home
  • take advantage of automatic timers built into the system to ensure the heating is only running when needed and automatically turning off during times when you know no one will be home or awake
  • close the vents in rooms you do not need heated
  • ensure your heating is regularly serviced and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Quick Air offers Australia wide scheduled maintenance for heating.

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Gas Heaters vs Electric Heaters

When choosing between a gas or electric heater the best option for you to heat your home is dependent on a couple of factors.

Electric heaters

Are cheap to buy, portable and a good option if you’re not using them in large spaces or for long periods.

Electric heaters are good for heating small spaces, or individual people.

Gas heaters

Gas heaters can be very efficient and good value for money.

There are two types – flued (fumes redirected outside through a pipe) and unflued (fumes pushed out into the room). Flued are more expensive to install and slightly less efficient, but unflued can present issues with the fumes they expel, so they are subject to regulations and you need to ventilate them.

If you’re going to leave a heater on all day, gas is likely to be much cheaper than a portable electric heater.

Gas heaters are good for heating smaller to medium-sized spaces.

Things to remember when choosing gas or electricity

  • Ensure you get the right size for the space you are looking to heat.
  • Insulate your ceiling, draught-proof windows and doors, cover windows at night, and close the doors between heated and unheated areas.

How to reduce your heating bills

  • Don’t heat rooms to tropical temperatures; for example, try 20 degrees instead of 23 degrees. Each degree less will save about 10% on your energy use.
  • Only heat the rooms you’re actually using.
  • Hot air rises to the ceiling, so if you have a ceiling fan with a reverse-direction option, consider using it at a low speed to help circulate the hot air more evenly through the room without creating a downward breeze.
  • Having your heater serviced regularly will increase the efficiency of your unit and help keep your heating bill down.
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