How to choose the best heating and cooling solutions for your home

technician cleaning and servicing an air-conditioning unit

Danny Baggs

Posted May 17, 2023

Keep your home comfortable year-round with this guide to heating and cooling.

In Victoria, where weather conditions vary from day to day, it’s important to have good heating and cooling in your home. To help you keep comfortable in any weather, here is our guide to some of the different types of heating and cooling units available, as well as some tips offering easy ways to keep cool in summer and warm in winter.

Heating systems

In the winter months, your heating rituals are an important part of your day-to-day activities. "While having an efficient heating unit is worth investing in for the long run, it also needs to be supported with good habits to prolong its life and effectiveness in your home," says RACV Senior Product Manager - Trades, Nathan Tayeh.

Below we break down the types of heaters available on the market and share some tips to stay toasty in winter.

Types of heaters

Find your ideal cooling system from our breakdown of the most common types.

  • Reverse-cycle heater: A reverse-cycle heater is an economical option as it doubles as an air-conditioner. You may know it as its other name: the split system. In heating mode, it heats air in the outdoor portion of the unit, then releases it indoors.
  • Wall-mounted heater: Whether it’s a convection or radiant heater, a wall-mounted heating unit can be a space saver. Since it doesn’t take up floor space, Tayeh says these are a great option for even the smallest rooms in your home.
  • Gas heater: Gas heaters can be an efficient way of heating your home due to their low running costs. "Always adopt safe practices around gas heaters by turning them off when you leave the room and ensuring they're a safe distance from other objects in your home," Tayeh says.

Heating tips and tricks 

Use the following tips to help keep warm in the colder months.

  • Let there be light: Open your blinds or curtains during sunlight hours, upgrade the insulation of your home and use a ceiling fan set at low mode to encourage hot-air circulation.
  • Choose the right heat: It’s important to match the size of the room you want to heat with the right type of heater. This way you can effectively heat your home without blowing out your energy bill.
  • Keep it clean: If you have a reverse-cycle heater ensure its filters are cleaned regularly to prevent accumulated dirt from affecting air quality and improve the longevity of your heater.
  • Set a timer: Take advantage of your heater’s timer function to avoid accidentally leaving it on while you’re asleep or away.
  • Get it serviced: Servicing your heater regularly is imperative for everyone’s safety. "It also helps to keep your heating system running efficiently, which will save you money on your energy bills," Tayeh says.  Talk to experts for professional recommendations on servicing and safe use practices.
  • Don't overheat: When you’re cold it can be tempting to crank up your heater to high temperatures, but to keep it performing at its most efficient, set the temperature to 21 or 22 degrees.
person using smartphone to turn on air conditioner

Summer is a breeze when you have adequate cooling in your home. Image: Getty.

Cooling systems

The sweltering heat of the Australian summer can be intense. We break down the types of cooling options available, plus help you stay cool with some handy tips.

Types of air-conditioning

Find your ideal cooling system from our breakdown of the most common types.

  • Split-system air-conditioner: The split-system air-conditioner can be an energy-efficient, self-cleaning way of cooling or heating your home. As its name suggests, a split-system air-conditioner has one unit inside the home that distributes hot or cool air and another unit outside that performs the temperature change.
  • Window/wall air-conditioner: Window or wall air-conditioners are convenient as they don’t take up floor space, and can offer quick cooling relief to larger rooms.
  • Evaporative coolers: Evaporative coolers use water to cool a room down and simultaneously purify the air. When the water evaporates, it takes the heat away and cools down the temperature of the room.
  • Fans: The humble fan can be mighty. Portable fans are convenient as they can be moved between rooms, while ceiling fans disperse rising warm air. Wall-mounted fans with adjustable, oscillating angles can bring focused relief in individual rooms.

Cooling tips and tricks 

Once your installation is done and dusted, get into these best practices to support your air-con and stay cool.

  • Air-con servicing: Regular air-conditioner cleaning will keep your system in top condition so you can rely on it when the temperature spikes in summer.
  • Use ceiling fans: Changing the direction of your ceiling fan to counterclockwise in summer can help cool your home better by pushing cooler air downwards.
  • Use several cooling options: If you have an air-conditioner and a portable fan, consider turning on the fan first to get the air circulating. This may be enough to avoid using your air-con and may help you save on energy bills.
  • Insulate well: Insulation is an important way to keep your home cool in summer. Ceiling, wall or underfloor insulation can help keep the heat out and the cool air inside.

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