Heating your home

For most Canberra households, space heating in winter accounts for more than half an entire year’s energy use. Significant savings can be made by understanding how and why your home loses heat. You can do this by completing some practical tasks around the house.

Insulate

Check that you have adequate insulation, at least in your roof but also in your walls. Ceiling batts should be a minimum of R5, which is approximately 240mm. If you do not have R5, consider having your insulation topped up.

Use the sun

For every two square metres of window exposed to direct sunlight, the heat coming in through your window is like having a one-bar radiant heater running.

  • Open your curtains and blinds during the day to let in the winter sun, and close them as the sun goes down to keep in the warmth at night.

Seal gaps

Warm air can escape through gaps and cracks around windows and doors, while draughts make you feel cold even when the air is warm.

  • Seal gaps around windows and doors with sealant using a caulking gun.
  • Use door snakes and other draught excluders.
  • Make sure exhaust fans have draught stoppers installed.

Consult with an expert about gaps and cracks that can be sealed, allowing you to control your home's ventilation.

Cover your windows

Air circulating around cold, exposed windows will substantially reduce your ability to heat the air.

  • Install double glazing or fit your windows with thermally-blacked curtains or energy-efficient blinds (such as honeycomb or roman blinds).
  • Install pelmets at the top of your curtain rods to further stop air movement around the window.

Work in smaller spaces

  • Only heat rooms you're using at the time.
  • Close doors to unused rooms to contain the heat.
  • Keep all windows closed when the heater is on (note: unflued gas heaters require a slightly open window for extra ventilation).
  • Use heaters that do not generate excessive air movement across your skin, such as fan heaters, which can make you cold.
  • If your rooms are not easily closed off or the house is draughty and cannot be effectively sealed, use radiant heaters (which heat you) rather than fan heaters (which heat the air).

Reduce the thermostat

Every degree you lower the thermostat will reduce your heating bill by as much as 10%. We recommend a thermostat setting between 18 - 20 degrees.

  • Turn down the thermostat on your heater.
  • Wear extra layers of clothing to stay warm.
  • When you're sitting down, use a heated throw rug for extra warmth.
  • If your heating system has a timer, set it to come on 30 minutes before you get up or get home.
  • Turn off heaters when you go out.

Make informed choices

  • Efficient gas space heaters and reverse cycle air conditioners (also known as reverse cycle heat pumps) are cheaper to run than standard electric heaters.
  • Electric in-slab floor heating often has the highest greenhouse gas emissions of any heating system and may be the most expensive to run.
  • Portable electric heaters can be cheap to buy but very expensive to run.
  • Radiant heaters work by heating you rather than the air. They allow you to keep warm without having to heat the entire room. Radiant heaters use a lot of electricity, so switch them off when no one is in the room.
  • Heated throw rugs are a great option if you are sitting for long periods of time. These will cost you less than five cents an hour to run.
  • An electric blanket or hot water bottle will use much less energy than trying to heat your whole bedroom.
  • Ducted central heating systems can run on either gas or electricity. Because they generally heat larger areas of the home, energy use and running costs will be higher than for space heaters. By heating only those areas of your home that are in use, a 'zoned' system allows you to maximise energy efficiency.
  • Hydronic central heating systems heat water and distribute heat through radiators or pipes in the walls or floor. Hydronic systems can allow you to zone your heating area down to one room. They are usually gas-fired, but may also use a wood-fired heater, solar system or heat pump.
The ACT Climate Change Snapshot projects the average temperature will increase by 0.9 degrees by 2030 – and up to 2.3 degrees by 2060.