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Choose energy efficient heating

A radiator mounted on an orange wall

A high efficiency heater will save energy and cost less to run. By choosing a system that is the right size for your home, you can avoid paying for energy you don't need.

Energy rating label for reverse cycle airconditioner with up to 10 stars

Compare star ratings

Use the heater's energy rating label to compare the efficiency of different models. The heating efficiency is shown in the red band. The more stars, the more you will save on your heating costs.

Compare the annual energy consumption using the number in the energy consumption box. The lower the consumption number, the less energy you use and the more you save.

Buy to save in the long run 

Select a heating system that is the right size for your needs and room sizes: space or room heaters for living areas, or ducted heating to warm more rooms at the same time.

When buying a gas space-heater or a gas ducted heating system make sure it has an energy rating of at least 4 stars.

Buy a unit with a thermostat and timer so that you can use your heating system efficiently.

Heating decision tree 

Disclaimer: 'Whole house' refers to heating approximately 160–170m2. 'One room' is approximately 30–40 m2. Approximate costs per year, based on 900 hours usage (or around 5 months at 6 hours per day). Based on peak electricity tariff of 27.7cents / kWh, off-peak electricity tariff of 16.6 c/kWh and marginal natural gas tariffs of 1.50 cents / MJ (gas ducted heating) and 1.66 cents / MJ (gas room heating). Actual costs for your house will depend on the area heated, how long you run the heating for, your thermostat settings, how well insulated the house is, your energy tariffs and your local climate.

Types of heaters

The table below compares different types of heaters.

Type of heater Description Things to consider
Gas ducted heating
  • Designed to heat the whole house.
  • Buy an energy efficient model – make sure it has a minimum energy rating of at least 4 stars.
  • Choose a system with the ability to be zoned – switch off areas not being used.
  • Use only well-insulated duct work.
Gas fired hydronic system
  • Designed to heat the whole house.
  • These systems circulate heated water through radiator panels, fan-coil units or in some cases via pipes in a concrete slab.
  • Some systems allow for individual room temperatures to be set, and some turned off.
  • Buy an energy efficient boiler (natural gas is the cheapest fuel for the boiler), and make sure the pipework is well insulated.
Ducted reverse cycle air conditioner
  • Whole house heating and cooling through one set of ducts, usually in the ceiling.
  • Sizing is critical and should be done by an expert.
  • Buy the most energy efficient unit you can afford.
  • Use only well insulated ductwork.
Electric in-slab heating
  • Electric coils run through a concrete slab, generally runs on a cheaper off-peak electricity tariff.
  • Avoid putting carpet or timber flooring over in slab heating.
  • Should be run at a termostat setting no higher than 18oC, otherwise running costs will be much higher.
Gas room heater
  • Designed to heat a single room or open plan area.
  • Can be flued or unflued.
  • In Victoria, there are strict regulations around the installation of unflued LPG heaters.
  • Can be run on natural gas or LPG (which is more expensive). Unflued heaters can only be run on LPG.
  • Buy an energy efficient model – make sure it's at least 4 stars.
Reverse cycle air conditioner
  • Designed to heat a single room or open plan area.
  • Split system or window wall models available.
  • Reverse cycle systems can both heat and cool.
  • Split systems are quieter than window wall units.
  • Buy the most energy efficient unit you can.
  • Inverter models are quieter and more efficient.
  • Sizing is critical and should be done by an expert.
Portable plug in heater
  • Designed to provide single room heating only, for short periods.
  • Running costs are determined by the wattage of the heater, so a 1200 watt fan heater will cost the same to run as a 1200 watt column or panel heater.
  • Buy a unit with a thermostat and time to keep costs down.

The table below considers the pros and cons of different types of heaters.

Type of heater Pros Cons
Gas ducted heating
  • Available in both zoned and un-zoned systems.
  • More expensive than a gas space heater to install and operate.
  • Not ideal for houses with high ceilings.
Gas fired hydronic system
  • Good for allergy sufferers.
  • Quiet heating source.
  • Good choice for high ceilings.
  • Slower response time than air based central heating systems.
  • More expensive than gas ducted heating to install.
Ducted reverse cycle air conditioner
  • Can heat whole house or a number of specific zones.
  • One unit provides heating AND cooling.
  • More expensive than room air conditioner to run, and more expensive than gas ducted heating to install.
  • Cooling costs in summer add to energy bills.
Electric in-slab heating
  • Some systems allow for individual room temperatures to be set, and some turned off.
  • Good for allergy sufferers.
  • Expensive to run – most expensive central heating system to run.
  • Slow response time. Best suited to cold climates as is usually run 24/7 during winter months.
Gas room heater
  • Very economic to run.
  • Heats only the areas being used.
  • Unflued gas heaters require specific installation conditions.
  • In Victoria, can only be installed where they are replacing existing unflued LPG heaters where no natural gas is available.  
Reverse cycle air conditioner
  • One unit provides heating AND cooling.
  • Cheapest form of electric heating.
  • Cooling costs in summer add to energy bills.
Portable plug in heater
  • Cheap to buy.
  • Expensive to run for long periods.

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Smarter choice

Energy efficient appliances will save you money. The Smarter Choice retail program will help you make better choices when buying new appliances, hardware and lighting.

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