How to heat your home efficiently

How have approaches to home heating changed over the years, and how can you efficiently heat your home? Our experts have the answers!

In this Article:
Energy efficiency is a top priority for home design
Smart thermostats are increasingly popular
Passive heating strategies are also popular
Heat pumps set to become more common too


Managing Director and Co-Founder, iBuild Building Solutions


Energy Efficiency Consultant, Ephe

How have approaches to home heating changed over the past couple of decades?

When it comes to designing and building homes today, energy efficiency is a top priority. With the increasing concern about the environment, homeowners and builders alike are seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.

Up until recently, gas-heating appliances have historically been the most economical and comfortable way to heat a home. Privatised gas supply and global events have caused surges in gas costs, resulting in an uptick for energy-efficient electric heating appliances. Affordable renewable energy sources have also been a contributing factor to the move away from gas, where a payback period for a solar PV system investment can be around two years when utilising electric heating.

What’s currently ‘in’ in home heating?

New heating devices are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners for their effectiveness and energy efficiency. Smart thermostats, for example, allow users to control their home’s temperature remotely and adjust settings based on their schedule and preferences. Radiant heating systems, which use heated floors or walls to warm a room, are also gaining popularity as a way to provide a comfortable and energy-efficient heating solution.

We’re particularly interested in heating appliances that cost the least to run, use the least amount of energy, cause the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions and provide the most comfortable style of heat. We favour plug-in electric blankets as they heat the body, rather than the volume of a room. We favour individual reverse cycle air conditioners to ducted RCACs as there is too much energy used in moving volumes of air through duct work.

How does building design affect how we are heating our homes?

Homes are now being built with advanced insulation materials and systems that prevent heat loss, such as triple-pane windows and high-efficiency HVAC units.

Building design is integral to the thermal efficiency and heating and cooling loads of our homes. This will become even more important as NatHERS seven-star ratings come into effect later this year. Poor orientation, zoning, glazing, insulation and even roof and wall colours play a key part in the need to artificially heat our homes. The key is to get your energy consultant involved as early as possible early in the process. Changes that come later in the design process can be very costly.
What other practical things can people do to reduce their reliance on artificial heat?

Passive heating strategies, such as passive solar design, are also gaining popularity as a way to harness the sun’s natural energy to warm a home. By optimising heating systems and using sustainable materials and strategies, homeowners can enjoy a more comfortable and sustainable living space while saving money on energy bills.

Zoning your home appropriately is key. Ensure you are allowing natural solar radiation into your home during the cooler months, and prioritise draught proofing throughout the home. Seal large areas of air leakage, like chimneys, the perimeter of external windows and doors, wall vents and unsealed exhaust fans. These are sources of thermal loss during winter and will cause your artificial heat sources to work overtime. Invest in the building fabric of your home starting from the top – aim for R5.0 effective ceiling insulation, investigate retrofit wall insulation and consider underfloor insulation, depending on your climate zone.

What will impact home heating over the next 10 years? In Australia, the federal government has recently announced new legislation that will require new homes to have a minimum energy rating of seven stars, which is an increase from the current minimum rating of six stars. This change will have a significant impact on the way homes are designed and built, particularly in terms of heating. Builders and designers will need to incorporate a range of heating devices and strategies that are both effective and energy-efficient to meet this new requirement.

As refrigerants in heat pump technology develop, I feel an increase in heat pump-related appliances will become more popular in the next 10 years. Heat pumps have a coefficient of performance, meaning one unit of electrical energy is converted into four to six units of heating energy. This applies to heat pump hot water systems too. The bonus is that these appliances have a renewable energy source that’s available now, and timers can assist in running appliances for free.

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