What are the best ways to heat your house?

The question on everyone's lips in winter is how to heat their homes efficiently when the mercury drops, because nobody wants their gas and electricity prices to rise substantially at this time!

Heating and cooling are responsible for around 40 per cent of the energy most households use, and this doesn't even include hot water.

While this will vary depending on the climate you live in, there are plenty of tips to have you keeping those prices down - here are a few to get you started!

Heating choices

When it comes to the way you heat your home, there are many different options to consider with a range of energy sources and degrees of efficiency.

The decision you come to in the end will depend on how low temperatures drop in your region, how big your house is, where you are going to place it and also how you will use it.

Here are a few of options available to you.

Gas space heaters

If you want to see a reduction on your electricity bills, choosing a gas heater can help. However, it is important to ensure that you opt for an unflued heater and that your ventilation is up to scratch as there is a chance of indoor air pollution.

You may want to see the requirements in your local state or territory before you install one.

Natural gas uses around one third of the greenhouse gases emitted by electric heaters, according to the Department of Industry's Living Greener initiative.

You can also check the energy rating label before you purchase one to make sure you have an energy efficient model. This will help you to keep those gas prices low.

To ensure you get the most of your gas space heater, you will need to ensure it is serviced by a licenced gas fitter at least every two years.

Hydronic central heating systems

While normally gas-powered, these systems do also allow you to use a wood-fired heater, solar system or heat pump.

They work by recycling heated water through radiator panels, fan-coil units or even via a concrete slab.

Reverse-cycle air conditioners or heat pumps

If you want to use electricity to heat your home, a heat pump is an excellent choice.These are cheaper to run than standard electric heaters and produce only a third of the amount of greenhouse gases, according to the Department of Industry initiative Living Greener.

Another bonus is that you can use them in the summer to cool down your house as well as keep it warm in the winter.

These are available as both window units or wall-mounted spilt systems. When you are deciding which model will best suit your home, you should also look at the energy rating labels so that you can save money on running costs. Remember, the more stars, the more you will save.

Ducted central heating systems

If you select this method of heating you have the choice between gas or electricity as your energy source. These are responsible for heating a larger area of your home and so their running cost may be higher than for space heaters.

However, zoned heaters are available. These can limit the amount of space heated so that only certain areas are kept warm.

Wood heaters

Many Australian houses rely on wood burners for warmth. However, these aren't the most energy-efficient option.

In fact, an open fireplace is highly inefficient as 90 per cent of the heat produced escapes out of the chimney, according to Living Greener.

If you are going to choose a wood heater, a slow combustion heater is the more efficient choice, emitting less pollution as the fire is sealed in an air tight box with air control so the wood burns more slowly.

You can manage your wood heater to ensure it is as efficient as possible. A poorly managed wood heater will produce more greenhouse gases.

Posted by Tim Wolfenden.