How much does it cost to run your heater in winter (2021)?

We've crunched the numbers to give you an idea of how much you'll spend on heating this winter.

What type of heater is the cheapest to run? Compare rates
Electricity vs gas heaters: What are the main differences? Electricity vs gas

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Worried about how high your energy bill might be this winter? Heating is one of the biggest parts of anybody's power bill during the colder months and choosing the right heater for your home and needs can potentially save you quite a bit.

In this guide, we compare a range of different electric and gas heaters, exploring which are the most cost-effective in keeping your heating budget down.

What type of heater is the cheapest to run?

According to these tables, a panel heater is the cheapest electric heater to run, while a radiant convection heater is the cheapest option when it comes to gas.

How do the best heaters compare when it comes to winter cost?

While we didn't have precise cost and usage data for the best heaters in 2020, we used data for extremely similar models, instead. In the following table, we assumed an average of 4 hours of heating use per day for all 90 days of winter to calculate the winter running cost.

Heater modelHeater RRPWinter Running CostTotal Winter Price
DeLonghi Slim Style Convector Heater (Electric)$159$276$435
Delonghi Dragon4 Electric Oil Column Heater (Electric)$213$173$386
Delonghi Electric Panel Heater (Electric)$130$276$406
Rinnai Avenger 25 Convector Heater (Gas)$1,399$450 (on High)$1,849
Kambrook 2400W Upright Fan Heater (Electric)$90$276$366
Panasonic 2.5kW AERO Series Reverse Cycle Inverter Air Conditioner (Electric)$1,110$288$1,398
Dyson Hot+Cool™ fan heater 302644-01 (Electric)$499$230$729

How much can you save on heating by switching energy plans?

Changing energy plans can reduce heating costs. If your current plan was charging you 32 cents per kWh and you switched to one that's about 30 cents per kWh, you could see yourself cut your heating bill by $20. For example:

Current plan: $276 heating costs

  • Usage rate: $0.32/kWh
  • Winter heating cost: 864kWh x $0.32/kWh = $276

New plan: $259 heating which is $20 less

  • Usage rate: $0.30/kWh
  • Winter power usage: 2.4kW (hourly power use) x 4 hours (daily use) x 90 days (days in winter) = 864kWh
  • Winter heating cost: 864kWh x $0.30/kWh = $259

Assumptions

You are using the DeLonghi Electric Panel Heater in the table above and let's say your winter power usage is 864kWh (2.4kW per hour at 4 hours a day use for 90 days in winter).

How to save even more

Switching plans here will save you around $20 on heating over winter, which isn't nothing. But you might find more savings by investing in a more energy efficient heater, or extra insulation for your home.

Electricity vs gas heaters: What are the main differences?

Here's how electric and gas heaters stack up against each other:

FeatureElectric heaterGas heater
Operation methodUses electric resistance to warm up heating elementsCombustion of natural gas
Installation costCheap – often below $500, almost always below $1,000Expensive – often starts around $700+
Running costsExpensive – electricity rates are much higher than gasCheap – requires more units of gas for the same heat, but gas is still much cheaper overall
Efficiency100% (in the heater itself)80-90%
Safety concernsElectrocution, electrical firesGas fumes (require a ventilated space)
Environmental friendlinessPoor – mains power in Australia is largely generated by burning fossil fuelsOkay – gas heaters produce around 80% fewer emissions than electric heaters given Australia's energy mix

Electricity vs gas: what's better for your wallet?

Should I consider a reverse cycle air conditioner?

There are a few benefits to a reverse cycle air conditioner versus a single-function heater. Here's what they offer:

  • Flexibility. Since reverse cycle air conditioners can heat your home in winter and cool it in summer, you don't have to shell out for multiple appliances.
  • Efficient. These kinds of air conditioners tend to be extremely efficient, transferring heat to and from your home with 300% or more efficiency. This means they transfer three kW worth of heat for each kW of energy consumed.
  • Air quality. Some reverse cycle air conditioners possess a purification feature where they filter the air that passes through them, removing pollutants or dust.
  • Less noisy. Certain modern reverse cycle air conditioners are very quiet compared to traditional electric or gas heaters.

Tips to save on energy

If you're hoping to save on energy for heating and beyond, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Use energy-efficient appliances. Different appliances have different efficiency ratings. Investing in more efficient appliances can help save you money in the long term, even if it costs more now. We've identified the 5 most energy-hungry appliances in the home.
  • Consider a different tariff. If you use a lot of energy during the day or at other low-demand periods, you might be able to save by switching to a time-of-use tariff instead of a single rate.
  • Turn things off. Leaving one device in standby instead of turning it off may not use much power by itself, but it adds up across the home. Shut things down instead of just leaving them chewing energy for no reason.
  • Switch energy plans. Chances are, changing to a better energy plan could save you a large amount on your bills. After all, if you're paying less for electricity, your bill will drop even with the same usage. Take a look at how much you could be saving using our energy comparison page.

For more energy-saving tips, check out our comprehensive guide to saving energy.

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