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Heating and Cooling your Home
Most Australian homes need heating or cooling at some time of the year. In some areas this accounts for up to 40 per cent of household energy use.
There are many ways you can minimise energy costs and improve your comfort all year round.
Implementing passive design will help you to maintain the interior temperature of your home with little mechanical heating and cooling. Many people think that passive design is only relevant when planning a new home but many passive design solutions can be retro-fitted into an existing home.
Passive design ideas include:
- orientation of the house
- insulating the ceiling, walls and floor
- sealing draughts around doors and windows
- allowing winter sun to warm the house
- stopping summer sun from entering the house
- using natural airflow to help with cross-ventilation.
Depending on your circumstances you may be able to implement passive design solutions effectively using shading, passive solar heating, passive cooling, thermal mass, window glazing and skylights.
Even if you have implemented good passive design in your house it's likely youll still require some form of heating. Things such as climate, type of heater, how you use it and even postion in the room can make a big difference to your heating bills.
In general, most heating options fall under the following categories:
- Gas heaters and efficient reverse-cycle heat pumps. These are generally cheaper to run than standard electric heaters and produce about one third of the amount of greenhouse gases.
- Ducted central heating systems. These can use either gas or reverse-cycle heat pumps as the energy source.
- Hydronic central heating systems. These generally gas-fired but may use a wood-fired heater, solar system or heat pump.
- Reverse-cycle air conditioners (or heat pumps). These are the most energy efficient type of electric heater.
- Heat shifters have a fan and ducting to direct warm air to unheated parts of your home. They can be cost-effective to install and low-cost to run.
- Wood is a renewable energy source if it is harvested sustainably. For efficientcy Use a low-emission heater, not an open fireplace.
- Electric portable heaters. These are often cheap to buy but very expensive to run and less effective.
- Electric in-slab floor heating. While very comfortable and luxurious this form of heating often has the highest greenhouse gas emissions of any heating system and may be the most expensive to run.
When preparing for a hot summer, options may include:
- Electric Fans. These are often the cheapest option and sufficient in many cases.
- Evaporative coolers. These work best in low-humidity areas. If the majority of hot days where you live are also humid then this is unlikely to be the best solution.
- Air conditioners. These are likely your most effective cooling solution but the downside is that they are expensive to run. To optimise running costs ensure that your unit is well maintained and that filters are clean. Using timers and zoning your home will also help you to use your air-conditioner efficiently.
HIDC Exhibitor(s) who specialise in this area;