Do you have a split system air conditioner? If yes, are you currently using a gas heater as your heater instead? If you answered yes, then you could wipe off up to a $1000 a year off your utility bills:

  • Many Australian households have split system air conditioners but some people don’t realise they are useful for heating as well.
  • Split systems are classed as a renewable source of energy because they harvest thermal energy from the outside air [1].
  • Split system wall units are highly efficient, from 300 to 600% efficient (no that’s not a misprint) compared to 30% to 90% for a gas heater and 100% for an electric heater.
  • Gas is not as cheap as it used to be as gas exports have put enormous pressure on domestic gas prices [2].
  • Because of fracking and CSG, gas is becoming an increasingly dirty fuel in Australia (worse than coal in some states now) while the electricity grid is improving due to the uptake of renewables [3].
  • Ducted gas heaters don’t always give you the option of heating selective areas like wall mounted split systems do.
  • Using gas appliances means you have to pay for two energy services. Eliminating gas heating is another step towards going gas free as a household.

So will using my split system unit for heating save money?


Gas heater next to split system air conditioner/heater
In almost all cases in Australia, it is cheaper to heat with a split system unit over gas.


Here’s a simple rule of thumb:

  • If you are comparing a modern wall mounted split system with a modern gas wall heater, the price of gas needs to 25% or less than the price of electricity for the gas heater to be cheaper.
  • If you are comparing a modern ducted gas system with a wall mounted split system, the price of gas needs to be roughly 10% or less of the price of electricity for the gas heater to be cheaper.
  • As an example, Melbournians who switch from a wall mounted gas heater should expect to save up to $100 a year while Melbournians who switch from a ducted gas heater should expect to save up to $1000 a year depending on how much they heat.
  • Households from states and territories outside of Victoria should save even more for every hour of heating due to much gas higher prices [4].
  • If you have compared energy providers to get the best electricity deal, then a split system will compare even more favourably with gas.
  • If you do make the switch to your split system, be sure to turn off the pilot light on your gas heater if you are not planning to use it anymore.

If you don’t have a split system, don’t despair. Using the tips in Thermal comfort, a.k.a heating and cooling will make your heating dollar go really far no matter what heating system you have. Smart usage always trumps smart appliances.

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