Jul 18, 2016

Heating your home in winter without breaking the bank

Author: Hanz Moleman, Australia 

We’ve reached peak cold of 2016, and the warm summer months are but a fond memory. During summer we dreamed of the cool, easy sleeping nights of winter, but now it’s here, the only thing in mind is restoring warmth to frozen fingers and toes. The days of rising at 5 am in June to deliver papers on our trusty BMX are long gone. I don’t remember my hands and feet being this ridiculously cold back in the 1990’s. Perhaps that’s due to being chased relentlessly by the local hounds while pitching rolled up Herald Suns across the frozen lawns of Kilsyth six days a week.

Who would think that something as boring as cost comparisons between home heating appliances would take up most of my Saturday? Why would anybody waste a day studying this? The teenage me would be shocked. The thirties meis shocked. But here I am. If your energy bills are as stupidly high as mine, it should be a day well spent. I don’t wish to spend my forties working for the power companies profit alone.

What I have found is surprising to say the least. Heating one’s home or living spaces is far more complex than electricity or gas costs alone. So I’ve decided to condense all the information onto some graphs and approximately 1200 words to save the rest of you some Saturday time to yourselves. You could try googling, researching, calculating as I have done, or you could simply look at these pretty colours and graphs, make a decision and spend the rest of your weekend doing something fun. I know which I would choose.

Household Power Consumption breakdown
The chart shows the four areas of your homes electricity consumption. Keeping your home at a comfortable temperature consumes nearly seven times the power that lighting does. Reducing power consumption must start here.

Appliance heating costs per hour to bring inside ambient temperature to
21 C from an outside temperature of 10 C
*Costs averaged over a standard 4 bedroom single story home with 2 main living areas plus master bedroom heated to 21C using heating types described. Tests conducted in South Australia May 2014

What’s the most energy efficient way to warm you home?

A wood fireplace maybe? It seems that all the energy that goes into producing, felling, distributing, and then chopping again, makes wood only the third best option. Even if you live on a farm and chop your own wood, when time and costs are accounted for, it’s still not as efficient as Geo thermal or electric powered reverse cycle air conditioning. So unless you live in a volcano or on one of New Zealand’s thermal underground steam pump up things, your best bet is a Reverse Cycle air conditioner. Technically called a heat pump, these machines can cool, heat, reduce humidity, plus clean and filter the air throughout a home. They are what this author would suggest, one of the only must – have appliances for any modern house. Only a refrigerator and a coffee machine could possibly be more important.

Forget those portable space heaters, so often left on to dry clothes. It used to be that gas heating whether ducted or wall heaters were the most efficient in all the country. But once they discovered that selling gas to Chinese manufacturing companies could triple the profit on natural gas and LPG, guess who decided that Australian families should be paying international ‘market rates’ for gas instead of just a fraction over what it cost to produce? Yep. Our Traitor politicians in Canberra thought – correctly - that they could slide this one past us without an armed rebellion.

Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning 

It isn’t surprising that these magical comfort machines are selling in excess of one hundred million units per year throughout the world. With that many being made and installed in every country, the impressive feats of modern manufacturing really shine through. The top manufacturers, nearly universally agreed to be Mitsubishi, Panasonic and Daikin are consistently producing machines that last 15 years plus. 

That aspect is impressive alone, but when you take into account they are exposed to all sorts of horrible weather, regularly infested rodents and bashed about in transit, these remarkable machines really do deserve our admiration. With costs as low as 11 cents per hour to run a bedroom split on maximum heating, and only 31.4 cents per hour to heat an entire home, Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning should be the first choice for all modern homes heating requirements. Best of all, it’s just as good in summer to keep the temperature low enough to get any work done.

Air Conditioner Installation

Getting your air conditioner installation done by professional tradesman is nearly as important as your choice of brand. The best brand on earth will perform poorly if installed in the wrong location. Similarly, if the unit is not of correct size rating for the area, it won’t matter how much you spent on it. The thing won’t do what it’s designed to do. If you are new to air conditioning selection, or just need some help choosing which size and location is best for your home, there’s dozens of resources online to help you with this decision. A reliable rule of thumb is read a few opinions from reputable sources, correlate the information, and use that to form your own opinion. 

What some of you might not know about search results on google and other engines is that : very few erroneous or made up fact sheets make it to the first few pages of google results on any topic. Some do get through. But when researching such common topics as air conditioning or even car exhaust performance, the sheer number of people competing for your business ensures that only the reputable and longest established websites and businesses get to make it near the top.


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