While there are many air-conditioning systems available, reverse-cycle air conditioning is most cost-effective and energy-efficient way to heat and cool your home.
Reverse cycle air-conditioning allows you to move away from fossil fuels for your heating needs – and allows you to cool your home within the one system. You can power the system with solar, if you have it, or GreenPower renewable energy through your electricity provider.
“Victorians are the nation’s biggest users of natural gas for heating,” says The Age, so switching heating to clean energy is a great step to transition your home to all-electric.
Types of air-conditioning
Reverse cycle air-conditioners both heat and cool; split system air conditioners only cool.
While many people think about ducted systems for whole-house heating, these systems – despite being electric and air-conditioning – are not as energy efficient as single reverse cycle air-conditioning units. Even multi-head systems linked to a single unit are not as energy efficient.
A good air-conditioner installer will be able to help you navigate the various options to meet your heating and energy efficiency needs.
Not-for-profit ReNew’s Guide to Electric Heating Options outlines the pros and cons of the many electric heating systems available.
Costs of air-conditioning
The upfront cost of reverse cycle air-conditioners is only half the story. Running costs will vary according to the location, size of the unit and its star rating, so invest in the best system you can afford and good advice.
The more stars, the more energy efficient a unit and the more you will save over time.
According to consumer advocacy group, Choice, a medium-sized reverse cycle air-conditioner (6kW) costs $226.07 per year to heat a medium room (35 sq metres); fossil fuel gas will cost $300 a year.
What size do you need?
Before you invest in a system, it pays to get advice on the right size system for your needs.
An air conditioner that’s too small may run at maximum more often creating wear and tear and drying the air. A system that’s too large may run at frequent short bursts to achieve the target temperature, increasing power consumption and wear and tear.
Some installers and online calculators recommend larger capacity systems than you need, so it pays to do a bit of research. Choice gives great advice on ideal sizes.
What are the best brands?
According to a community poll on My Efficient Electric Home facebook group, Daikin is the most recommended brand of reverse cycle air-conditioners (344 votes), followed by Mitsubishi (193 votes) and Fujitsu (99 votes). The more stars, the more energy efficient a unit, so compare like-size models for your home’s unique requirements and conditions.
Victorian Government financial support
The Victorian Government offers $1000 rebates to upgrade heating to reverse cycle air-conditioning for eligible owner-occupier households and rental providers through the Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades program. Visit the website to find out more.