Getting Off Gas Heating: Reasons, Benefits, and Best Alternatives

gas stove in the corner of a living room

For reasons associated with user convenience and accessibility, gas heating is widely used among Australian households to keep their living spaces toasty warm in the colder months.

Many homeowners have preferred gas because it distributes heat instantly throughout the rooms and adjusting the temperatures to comfortable levels is easy. But in recent years, gas heating has raised questions on safety, environmental sustainability and affordability.

If you’re planning to get off gas in favour of healthier and more cost-effective heating options, these reasons should compel you to do the switch:

1. Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Damaged or poorly-maintained gas heaters can leak dangerous Carbon Monoxide (CO) gases which, when inhaled, can pose serious health risks. The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria and Energy Safe Victoria specifically warn the public of using open-flued gas heaters like Vulcan Heritage or Pyrox Heritage.

Apart from open flued gas heating systems, more common whole of home ducted systems are also capable of subjecting occupants to carbon monoxide poisoning.  In a recent case, friends of ecoMaster were slowing being poisoned by an in attic gas ducted heating system that develop hairline fractures in the heat exchanger.  This caused carbon monoxide to be continuously exhausted in to the home. The worse effected was their 3 year old who was playing on the floor. Only because of the observation and diligence of the Chief Technical Officer of ecoMaster was the problem detected.  

The symptoms of CO poisoning include shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, and tiredness among others.  Should the exposure to a faulty gas heating continue, CO poisoning can be fatal. During winter when the heating system is running frequently, carbon monoxide poisoning can appear as a low level virus that is very easy to dismiss as a whole household having the flu.

2. Higher Running Cost

What most households fail to realise is that gas heating costs more to run than reverse-cycle air conditioning – which combines summer cool and winter heating in the one appliance.   

Grattan Institute’s report titled Gas At The Crossroads released in October 2014 reveals that gas ducted heating in Melbourne can cost around $700 a year to run, while reverse-cycle air conditioners have the capacity to produce equivalent amounts of heat for only $300.

A gas hot water system in Sydney already costs about $600 a year to run, whereas an electric heat pump can deliver the same heating performance for half the cost.

3. Environmental Damage

Fracking (or hydraulic fracturing), the method of drilling into the earth to extract natural gas or oil, has significant negative impacts to the environment. During fracking operations, wastewater containing various contaminants like heavy metals, radioactive materials and high concentration of salts can be released to water sources, soils and crops.

In addition, fracking can pollute the air with toxic compounds which can be harmful to humans living near the areas where fracking operations are conducted.

One little known environmental consequence to this fracking is the significant venting of methane from leaky gas pipelines. Methane is found to be more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Cost-Effective, Healthier Alternatives

If you’re keen on reducing your heating cost whilst lessening the impact that your home has on the environment, resolve to ditch your gas heating today. Replace it with any of the following alternatives:

1. Reverse-Cycle Split System Air Conditioners

One of the most efficient heating options available, reverse-cycle split system air conditioners use a lot less energy. As its name suggests, you can use this air conditioning system for both heating and cooling, which simply means you’re paying for a single unit that does both very well.

a hand with a remote control pointing to an air conditioner

Reverse-cycle split system air conditioners have the ability to pump in cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter. Unlike electric heating which directly converts electricity into heat, reverse-cycle air conditioners essentially use electricity to transfer heat from one place to another.

This makes energy reduction a whole lot more viable because moving heat to other spaces requires less energy compared to converting a certain amount of electricity into heat to meet a home’s specific heating requirement.

Note that the energy efficiency performance of reverse-cycle split system air conditioners vary according to the brand and specific model.  Typically, the higher the star rating of an air conditioning unit, the higher its efficiency, the friendlier it is to the environment and the cheaper it is to run.

2. Solar Hot Water Systems

Another cost-effective option is solar hot water heating. This heating system works by trapping sunlight and converting the energy for water and thermal heating.

solar hot water system on the roof

Solar hot water heating leaves no damaging impact to the environment since you only need to take advantage of the sun’s heat. If anything, by installing a solar hot water system, you are reducing the total carbon emissions collectively released by households.

In terms of cost, solar hot water systems can be expensive to purchase and install. However, you will be able to recover the upfront expenses through your significantly reduced energy bills.

3. Go Electric

One of the advantages of electric heating is the reduced energy cost. Homeowners can significantly lower overall energy cost by removing all gas appliances and replacing with electric.  

electric heater beside a sofa chair

Electricity and gas both have standing charges as a major component of their cost base. When you get off gas and switch to using an energy-efficient electric heater, you will only have to pay one standing charge, not two. However you want to begin your journey to energy efficiency, we wish you a life of bliss and comfort for years to come!

If you wish to run a home that’s energy efficient in all respects but don’t know where to start, have your home inspected by a team of expert energy efficiency assessors.

ecoMaster conducts comprehensive ecoHome Assessments 

ecoMaster provides homeowners in Melbourne and Sydney a deeper analysis of their overall energy efficiency performance through ecoHome Assessments. We allow you to choose the best heating and thermal retrofit solutions that fit your home.

For queries, talk to an ecoMaster staff by calling 1300 326 627 or email sales@ecomaster.com.au.

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