When choosing a heating system for your home it’s important to check several things before buying and installing one. You need to make sure your home is as thermally efficient as possible to keep heat inside in winter and outside in summer.
Factors to consider before choosing heater capacity
- Floor area, ceiling, and height of the room
- Amount of sunlight the room receives
- Whether the room is carpeted
- Whether adjacent rooms or floors above and below are heated
- Amount of insulation
Be sure to get a right-sized heater for the space you’re looking to heat. In a cold climate, you need 1kW of power to heat every 10 square meters. In mild climate 1kW of power can heat up to 16 square meters.
Heating for small rooms
For a small space (around 10 square meters), use a small heater with low power output. A small 1.5kW gas heater with a good energy star rating approximately costs less than $100 in bills per year. Avoid unflued heaters. Instead, use a flued wall-mounted system in small spaces. You can use portable electric heaters but they cost more to run, best used for short-term and individual heating
Heating for medium-sized rooms
For space around 20-35 square meters, use a powerful heater that can maintain warm temperatures on colder days and nights. A 3.5kW gas heater approximately costs less than $150 in bills per year. Flued heaters are expensive to install and cause some heat loss but they’ll keep your rooms well ventilated for longer periods. Reverse-cycle air conditioning is another option.
Heating for large rooms
For a large space, up to 60 square meters a reverse-cycle air conditioner can be the most efficient option. This costs around $250 in electricity bills per year. Reverse-cycle air conditioners are ideal for open-plan layouts and can keep your rooms cool in the warmer months. An energy-efficient 7kW heater costs around $350 to run per year.
Types of Heaters
Usually, portable, cheaper to buy and a good option for heating small spaces or individual people.
Run from reticulated natural gas or bottled gas (right model for the right type of gas). It’s very efficient for heating smaller to medium-sized spaces
Two main types of gas heaters
Direct their fumes outside through a flue pipe. It is safer as it removes carbon monoxide and water vapor from home, this can create a small amount of heat loss however more expensive to buy and install
Portable or unflued heater
Expel fumes and water vapor into the room being heated. The Australian standards and regulations strictly limit the number of emissions allowed. This need to be professionally serviced every few years to ensure they are operating safely and effectively. Remember, NEVER use an outdoor gas heater for indoor heating.
Reverse-cycle air conditioners
Good for large spaces, like an open-plan living area. This is expensive but very effective in terms of power.
Other heating options
There are other options you can use in case all above-mentioned isn’t for you. This includes wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, which is economical but requires a lot of preparation and cleaning; ethanol fireplaces, similar to wood but you won’t need a chimney; or a hydronic system which uses water steam to heat the whole house.
Even the best types of heating system will not guarantee low energy bills. After all, it depends on how much and how wise you consume. Be sure to only use your heating system whenever necessary, and only heat the rooms you actually use.