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Choosing heating and cooling options for your home can be challenging – not only are there many options available to choose from, but the design of your home can often dictate your options or what is best suited to your home.

Firstly, it is important to invest time and money in building an energy efficient home that will provide less of a need to rely on mechanical heating and cooling.  Passive design is an important factor when designing your home – it is design that does not require mechanical heating or cooling. Homes that are passively designed take advantage of natural climate to maintain thermal comfort.  Passive design is brilliant for the environment, especially when heating and cooling utilises around 38% of your home energy.

Whilst passive design should be utilised where possible, it is still important to take into account mechanical heating and cooling options when designing your home, or you could be disappointed down the track when there isn’t enough ceiling space for the ducted air conditioning system you wanted to install. Or building your home on a slab won’t allow for ducted floor heating.

Below is a basic (and by no means exhaustive) list of heating and cooling options:

Heating

  1. Ducted gas heating (reverse cycle)
    – in the floor;
    – in the ceiling;
  2. Electric heating
    – heating units attached to the wall
    – reverse cycle heating and cooling attached to the wall
  3. Gas log fire
  4. Wood fire
  5. Hydronic heating (water heating)
  6. Floor heating (in the slab)
  7. Ceiling fans (to work with your heating to push the heat down from the ceiling)

Cooling

  1. Ducted air conditioning (reverse cycle)
  2. Split system (reverse cycle) electric air-conditioning on the wall
  3. Ducted evaporative cooling system
  4. Ceiling fan

It’s essential to understand the operating costs of different heating and cooling options before you make your final decision, you may find the more expensive system to install saves you more in the long term in energy bills (especially at the rate electricity is increasing in price). Don’t forget to look at the energy rating of each option – that will give you an idea of the comparative running costs of each system.

To give you a snapshot of how different systems stack up against each other I have included some tables below:

Comparison of central heating systems (click image to enlarge)…

And cooling running costs (in Australian dollars/cents)……

The Your Home  website (A joint initiative of the Australian Government and the design and construction industries) is great for explaining the different types of heating and cooling options  (and which one is better suited for different sized rooms or houses). It also has heaps of other info on building a home, and choosing materials and appliances for your new home. Or view their Heating and Cooling PDF brochure.

Our home

Because half of our house is on a slab, and the the other half was on stumps we went for a unique combination of heating and cooling options to fit the house design, and to minimise running costs.

On the topic of passive design we chose to do the following to minimise the use of mechanical heating and cooling options:

– No West facing windows to minimise the hot afternoon sun/heat in the summer;
– Large North facing windows in the two living areas to capture the north sun/heat in winter;
– Double glaze the house throughout;
– Allow air flow through the main living areas (with large sliding doors on both sides of the room) to allow cross-ventilation to cool the house in Summer;

Heating

  • The location of the ducts:
    • Coming from the floor in the back section where the house is on stumps (kitchen, family, dining, master bedroom);
    • Ducted into bedroom two, three and four above the wardrobes (because the rooms are on a slab, and there is limited space in the ceiling to run the ducts);
    • A wall duct above the hallway stairs to heat the study nook and front entrance/living room;
    • We specifically chose not to have any heating in the front living room. This room will not be used very frequently, and because the room is open (and facing North), we hope that the heat will travel down there from the hallway ceiling duct, and be heated by the North sun in Winter. We agreed that if the room was too cold to use in winter we would consider a heating option for that room in the future;

Whilst we would have preferred floor ducts throughout the house, we have them in the main living area, Master bedroom and kitchen, which is where it will be used more frequently.

We also had a gas pipe plumbed into the family room at the back if we ever wanted to install a gas fire down the track – we were undecided at the time of building.

Cooling

  • We are installing 2 ceiling fans
    • one in the master bedroom;
    • one in the family room;

Brushed Chrome ceiling fan…

  • We are also installing 3 split system Daikin wall mounted units for air-conditioning use:
    • One in the master bedroom (model: FTXS35, 3.5kW);
    • One in the dining/family room (model: FTXS100, 9.4kW);
    • One in the hallway servicing bedroom two, three and four (Model:FTXS50, 5.0kW);

View the location of our heating ducts and wall mounted cooling:

Heating and cooling Outlet locations

There is a lot of information out there on this topic which can make it quite overwhelming. Be guided by your builder, do your own research, and most of all ask people who have the type of heater or cooling system you are considering – they’re the best people to learn from. That’s where we got the following info:

our ducted heating from the ceiling didn’t warm the lower part of the room in our large living area, we always had to wear socks because our feet would get cold

“we had one of those wall mounted electric panel heaters – it cost a fortune to run”, and

always get gas-powered heating, not electric – it is much cheaper to run

I hope this has been somewhat helpful in your heating and cooling learning curve and decision making.

Cheers,

Bernice
www.heybernice.com


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I met with the builder last week for a site inspection (lock up stage) – it was one of the worst meetings imaginable! Not because of anything to do with the house, but because I had to take Heidi (who had been unusually irritable that week) and she screamed at the top of her lungs the entire time. She reached octaves I had never heard from her before. It was ghastly, we couldn’t hear each other, and I wasn’t able to concentrate. I did the logical thing, and cut the meeting short to get the poor little miss home. The moral of that story is leave the kids at home for any meetings to do with the house (especially when grizzly!!).

So, we are at lock-up stage, and Pivot are getting Building Ethics Australia (BEA) to conduct their building inspection this week. We will forward that certificate onto the bank with the invoice from Pivot, and that will allow us to progress to the next stage (once the bank has paid Pivot). Refer to my previous post for more info about progress payments and the BEA inspection.

Two days after the disastrous baby crying meeting I popped to the house again – and was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting much to have changed, and discovered all the electrical wiring had been completed, along with the heating ducts, and air-conditioning. They are quick workers!!!

A link to the electrical plan

Light switch wiring….

TV, speakers, data point and electrical wiring in the family room…



Powerpoint and light switch wiring in the family room …

Down light wiring in the kitchen and family room…

We decided to have gas ducted heating and multiple reverse cycle air- conditioning units for our heating and cooling. I will go into more detail about our heating and cooling choices in a future post:

Air-conditioning wiring and pipes for the master bedroom …

Air-conditioning wiring and pipes for the living area …

Heating duct (green thing!) running from under the house (at the back of the house) to the bulkheads ( for the bedrooms) …

Duct feeding into one of the bedrooms …

I have been informed that the plasterer is booked, and the external painter will be organised soon…. it’s moving along at a great pace right now. When I asked the million dollar question “when do you think it will be finished” we were told around November (5 months away)…. fingers crossed!!

I will have more details about the heating and cooling up soon,

Cheers,

Bernice
www.heybernice.com


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