THE weather is getting cooler, winter is definitely on its way. Here in Mackay it often doesn’t get cold enough to warrant an indoor fireplace but we do need to take the chill off occasionally.

So we’ve looked at the best way to turn up the heat at home without getting bill shock.

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1. Reverse cycle air conditioners: the cheapest heating option

Did you know your reverse cycle air conditioning is cheaper to use than other heaters?

A reverse cycle air conditioner is at least three times more energy-efficient than an electric heater.

Portable heaters can overload electric circuits but because your reverse cycle air conditioner doesn’t. Instead of using energy to create heat, this makes a reverse cycle unit not only cheaper to use but safer as well.

Reverse cycle units use an external coil to absorb heat from the outside. This warm air is then pumped through a compressor and into the condenser inside the unit. Quite simply, your reverse cycle air conditioner pumps heat from outside air into your house.

As an added bonus this air can also be filtered and dehumidified by your unit before it is brought into your home.

So how much does it cost to heat your home using your reverse cycle air conditioner?

According to Canstar, the average reverse cycle air conditioner is used for heating purposes costs around $0.13- $0.36 per hour to run.

This is in comparison to a gas heater, which costs $0.43- $0.51 per hour to run and electric heaters that cost $0.50- $0.60 per hour to run.

The reason reverse cycle air conditioners are the cheapest is that the unit “restores more heat than the energy it consumes”.

For example, it will generate 3-4kW of heating consuming just 1kW of electricity while for every 1kW of gas burnt it generates about 1kW of heat.

Fun fact! A reverse cycle air conditioner is even cheaper to run than a microwave ($0.28 – $0.53 per hour).

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2. Reverse cycle air conditioner: pros and cons

Like anything there are always pros and cons and using a reverse cycle air conditioner for heating isn’t exempt.

While a reverse cycle air conditioner is cheaper to run than other heating methods they are more expensive to install so there is that upfront cost.

But, you can save space when you install a reverse cycle air conditioner because it is a two-in-one system, saving you from having to install and running separate units for heating and cooling.

While reverse cycle air conditioners have the benefit of no exposed elements (like an oil heater) or flame (like a gas heater) and remain cool to touch, windows and doors do have to remain closed to maximise efficiency.

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3. Reverse cycle air conditioners: tips for heating

With all that said, now it is time to look at some tips for best using your reverse cycle air conditioning to heat your home.

  1. Mode: Instead of switching your reverse cycle air conditioner onto heat mode and forgetting about it, switch it on to auto mode too. The auto mode allows the unit to maintain the temperature you set it to and keeps the fan running at the slowest speed for the least amount of time which saves on energy.
  2. Temperature: The recommended temperature for your home is 18 to 20 degrees and keep in mind, every degree above can increase energy usage by up to 10%.
  3. Louvres: In winter, the best direction for the louvres is downwards because hot air rises. Point the louvres down in the cooler months ensures optimum air circulation (just remember to move them back up when it gets warmer).
  4. Clean: It is easy enough to clean the filters inside your reverse cycle air conditioner. Check your manual first but regularly give them a good clean to get rid of the dirt that builds upon them.
  5. Service: It is recommended you get your reverse cycle air conditioner serviced at least once a year. This will help keep it as energy efficient as possible and could possibly prevent any major repairs in the long run.