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Is Air Conditioning Cheaper Than Central Heating?

Posted: April 8, 2021
Category: Blog

Heating and cooling are two of the greatest energy costs for Australian households. When looking for heating solutions for your home, it's important to choose a system that is energy efficient while still being powerful enough to keep you warm during winter.

Is air conditioning cheaper than central heating

If you've started researching your options, you might be asking questions like: Is air conditioning cheaper than central heating? Should I get a ducted system for the whole house or a smaller heater for a single room? Should I go with gas or electric heating?

In this article, we take a closer look at the different heating options available and compare their costs so that you can find the right solution for your household.

What are the different options for heating my home?

There are many different heating options available. Below we look at some of the most popular.

Reverse cycle air conditioners

Reverse cycle air conditioning (also known as a heat pump) has both heating and cooling functions in the one system. On the heating cycle, the air conditioner draws cold outside air into the unit where it absorbs heat from a refrigerant. The hot air is then pushed out into your room. The most common types of air conditioning are ducted and split system.

Ducted air conditioner

A reverse cycle ducted air conditioner provides cool or warm air to the entire home through ducts in the ceiling cavity. The temperature is controlled by a thermostat which typically ranges from 18 to 30 degrees celsius. A ducted air conditioning system allows for zoning, meaning you can control which rooms in the house receive warm air at any given time.

Split system air conditioner

Split system air conditioning consists of an indoor unit that is normally mounted on the wall and connected to an outdoor unit. The refrigerative process of warming the air is very similar to the ducted system. Instead of supplying warm air to the entire home, split systems are ideal for heating individual rooms.

Central heating

Central heating is any heating system that supplies warm air to the entire home, rather than a single room. Ducted reverse cycle air conditioning, as explained above, is an example of central heating which relies on electricity to run. Another type of central heating is ducted gas heating.

Ducted gas heating

In a ducted gas heater, cool air is drawn into the central unit and heated using gas. The heated air is pushed into your room by fans and then drawn into the central unit again to be reheated. Ducted gas heating requires both gas and electricity to work and most systems allow you to control which rooms are heated with zoning.

Space heaters

Space heaters are systems that only heat a single room, like the split system air conditioner described above. Two other common space heaters are electric and gas heaters.

Electric heaters

You can find portable electric heaters and fixed options. Common types of electric heating including radiant heaters, convection heaters and electric fan heaters. Electric heaters should not be left on when a room is unoccupied as overheating can cause a fire risk.

Gas heaters

Gas heaters run on natural gas or LPG. They can come in portable or fixed types. It's important that there is enough ventilation so that good air quality can be maintained when running a gas heater.

Cost comparison: is air conditioning cheaper than central heating?

When comparing the cost of different heating systems, it's important to consider both the upfront and installation costs as well as the long term running costs. In many cases, investing in a more energy-efficient system will cost more upfront, but will end up saving you in the long term because of lower energy consumption.

Upfront and Installation costs

Space heaters, whether they are electric, gas or split system air con, will be less expensive to buy and install than central heating options. The size of the room you want to heat will influence the size and price of the heater you will need to buy as large areas will require more power.

For information about choosing the ideal size split system air conditioner for your home, check out our article "What size air con do I need?".

Ducted heating systems can be costly to install, and the most cost-effective time for installation is during building or renovation. A ducted air conditioning system may cost upwards of $5,000, depending on the size of your home.

Running costs and energy use

In general, space heaters are more energy-efficient and will cost less to run than central heating. The larger the system you buy, the more expensive it will be to run.

According to, the typical running cost for medium-sized space heaters are:

  • $300 per 500 hours for a gas heater

  • $226 per 500 hours for a reverse cycle split air conditioner

Ducted heating systems that have zoning capabilities are cheaper to run and ducted air conditioning is very energy efficient for homes with solar power. For more tips on keeping your heating costs lower on your power bill, check out our guide on how to efficiently run air conditioning.

What's the best heating solution for me?

The best option for heating your home depends on a number of factors including the design of your house, your lifestyle and the climate of where you live. Firstly, you should consider how many rooms you want to heat and whether you want the double function of cooling with the same system. For many people in Mandurah, having access to cooling is essential during the hot summer months. Combining your heating with your cooling can be more cost-effective and energy-efficient.

In addition to the cost of running, effectiveness is an important consideration. Gas heating tends to be faster and more powerful at heating. However, winter temperatures in Perth and its surrounds are quite mild so reverse cycle air conditioning in Baldivis, for example, will almost certainly provide enough warmth.

Got questions? Ask the experts!

If you're looking to invest in ducted or split system air conditioning in Mandurah, iBreeze is here to help. With extensive experience providing heating and cooling solutions to homes across Mandurah and Perth, our friendly team can help you find the perfect system for your needs. Chat with us today for a free, no-obligation quote.

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