House and Garden

3 July 2012
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Heating

The most common energy sources used for heating Australian homes are electricity (used in 37% of homes), gas (32%) and wood (10%). Almost one-fifth of homes have no heating at all, but you can bet almost all of these are in the northern half of the country!

Gas Heating

Gas heating is most popular in WA, Victoria and SA, where mains (natural) gas is readily available.

Many houses are built with a few gas outlets installed into the walls of the main living areas. They have a 'bayonet' fitting into which portable gas heaters can be plugged.

Note that they do not need to have flues to the outdoors, but (in WA at least) are only allowed in larger rooms, so cannot normally be used in bedrooms.

They do give off some unwanted gases, so not to everyone's liking.

Ducted Gas Heating

Ducted gas heating is available, although we do not have any information on how popular it is. This method burns gas to heat air which is then pushed into rooms via vents in the ceilings or walls.

Hydronic Heating

This is what you would call central heating in the UK - burning gas to heat water which is then piped into radiators in each room. It does exist in Australia, but I have not seen it in Perth and I think it would only be used in the colder areas like Victoria and Tasmania.

Electric Heating

This covers the various types of convection heaters that most people are already familiar with; oil-filled radiators, convection heaters without fans, those with fans and radiant heaters. All are OK for heating smaller areas, but probably not the cheapest option.

Reverse-cycle Air Conditioning

This is certainly a popular option in WA, and I would think in SA and parts of Vic and NSW also - areas where you need cooling for a few months and heating for a few months as well - the same system achieves both functions.

The system consists of a 'heat pump' which works on the refrigerator principle, drawing heat out of the air outdoors and releasing it into the air indoors. This is more efficient than direct heating methods and, as mentioned, the process can be reversed to achieve cooling instead of heating.

There are two main variations:

  • Ducted - consisting of a heat pump located outdoors which cools the refrigerant and a unit in the roof space which uses the refrigerant to cool the air and blows the cool air back into the rooms through vents in the ceiling or walls.
  • Split systems - same principle but normally one system per living area or bedroom. The heat pump is located outdoors and the indoor unit is located indoors, normally either side of the same wall.

Wood Heating

Wood heaters are popular in rural areas, but they exist in suburbia as well. People normally burn hardwoods like jarrah, which you can have delivered.

They are effective in heating living areas and can provide a cosy atmosphere, although they do cause a bit of localised air pollution.