06.Heating a house
Hydronic heating works through heating water (or steam), piping it through the house into panel radiators and returning the water back to the heating system to be reheated for the cycle to repeat. You can also utilise this method to provide heating to in-floor systems.
The advantage is direct control of how much heat you want to each room. Panel heaters mean no fans to blow dust around. It’s a relatively quick way of heating, low maintenance and it’s fairly well tested, having been used in other countries for around a century.
The disadvantage is it’s quite expensive to install, quotes can start at around $6000.
The heating supply can be a boiler supplied best by natural gas (least expensive), but also possibly with off-peak electricity, LPG or solid fuel (more expensive).
When purchasing and installing, you are best to look for a low content boiler so it’s not wasting fuel, panels that heat up quickly and can be controlled independently and pipes that don’t lose heat where they don’t need to.
Ducted reverse-cycle air conditioning
Such a system consists of a compressor (which can be installed outside or in the ceiling space, for example) and ducted outlets in the rooms you want to heat or cool. It's very efficient, but installation can be costly -- consider it if you're building or renovating a house. Check our report on ducted air conditioning for more info.
For this type of heating, electric wiring or water pipes are installed into the concrete floor slab. The slab is heated, using cheap off-peak electricity or hot water (in which case you can use a gas heater to heat the water if gas is available). It then releases the stored heat during the day, in a similar way to an off-peak storage heater. The substantial construction work required for this type of heating means it's more appropriately installed when a house is being built.
Ducted gas central heating
This system consists of a gas furnace (which can be installed outside or underfloor) and ducting vents in the rooms you want to heat. A ducted system may work out cheaper to run than two gas space heaters, though installation costs are usually much higher.
Slow-combustion stove with heat shifters
This type of heating consists of a slow-combustion heater in one room, connected to a system of ducts and fans in the ceiling space that shift warm air to other rooms.