At G Store, we’re gearing up for a big winter.
With rising gas prices, huge increases to the cost of living, and sustainable, all-electric living now on the cards for more homeowners than ever before, feasible alternatives to gas/electric heating are fast becoming available on the market.
When it comes to understanding the options you have for heating your home, it pays to understand the wide variety of systems now accessible to you as a homeowner.
From cheap but wildly inefficient electric fan heaters to cutting-edge heat pump-facilitated hydronic heating/cooling technology ensuring year-round comfort, the options are endless.
So – why opt for hydronic heating?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the major advantages offered by installing a hydronic heating/cooling system, including:
- Energy efficiency and lower bills
- Health-related benefits
- Ability to be run by a heat pump
- Quiet operation
- Year-round versatility
The aim of this article? To help you feel confident and informed about the options available to you, so you can plan ahead and save precious time and money in the process.
Ready? Let’s get stuck in.
What is hydronic heating?
Hydronic heating is a heating system that uses water as a heat transfer medium instead of air.
These types of systems involve circulating hot water through pipes or radiators installed in the floor, walls, or ceiling to warm up the surrounding surfaces and create a gentle, radiant and very even heat, unlike the heat provided by electric fans, reverse-cycle air conditioners, or other heating options.
This makes hydronic heating incredibly energy-efficient, comfortable, healthy, and quiet compared to other heating systems, making it an increasingly popular choice for homeowners, especially those living in colder regions, or regions where temperatures vary (like Victoria!).
In addition to heating, hydronic systems can also be used for cooling through the use of a reversible heat pump. In this case, the system circulates cool water through the pipes or radiators to absorb heat from the surrounding air, effectively lowering the temperature in the room.
The ability of a reversible heat pump-facilitated hydronic heat system to provide cooling in the warmer months makes it a supremely versatile and flexible option for homeowners looking for a comfortable and energy-efficient solution for their homes.
Let’s take a look at the broader range of advantages offered by a hydronic heating system.
Hydronic heating is energy-efficient
Hydronic heating systems are more energy-efficient than other heating systems, such as forced-air heating systems. Overall, this is because water is a better conductor of heat than air, so it requires less energy to transfer the same amount of heat.
According to a study by the Australian Energy Market Commission, hydronic heating systems are, on average, 20% more energy-efficient than gas ducted heating systems and up to 50% more efficient than electric heating systems. This can result in significant cost savings on energy bills over the long term.
The same study found that hydronic heating systems are also more effective at reducing peak demand for electricity during cold weather periods, which can help to reduce strain on the electricity grid and potentially avoid the need for costly upgrades to infrastructure.
According to another report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, households in Victoria that used gas ducted heating spent an average of $1,785 on energy bills per year, while households that used electric heating spent an average of $1,600 per year.
By comparison, households that used hydronic heating spent an average of $1,405 per year on energy bills, representing a potential cost saving of up to $380 per year compared to gas ducted heating and up to $195 per year compared to electric heating.
Another report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that households in Tasmania that used electric heating spent an average of $2,009 on energy bills per year, while households that used wood heating spent an average of $1,514 per year.
On the other hand, households that chose to install hydronic heating spent an average of $1,324 per year on energy bills, representing a potential cost saving of up to $685 per year compared to electric heating and up to $190 per year compared to wood heating.
Pair your hydronic heating system with a solar panel system, and you could be saving even more cash – and also exporting (for sale) the power you generate, but don’t use! Check out our Virtual Power Plant (VPP) partnership with Simply Energy for more info.
Hydronic heating provides a comfortable environment
Hydronic heating systems deliver a vastly more even and consistent temperature throughout the home, eliminating hot and cold spots.
It also provides a gentle warmth that is less drying to the air and more comfortable to live in, unlike the harsh, directional heat offered by other options on the market such as electric fan heaters and some models of reverse cycle air conditioner.
Hydronic heating is a healthy choice
One of the other main advantages of hydronic heating systems is that they can be a healthier option compared to other heating systems, especially forced-air systems. This is because forced-air systems circulate air through ducts, which can potentially spread dust, allergens, and other particles throughout the home, causing respiratory problems and aggravating allergies.
In contrast, hydronic heating systems do not use ducts to circulate air, instead using hot water to heat surfaces in the home. This means that there is less air movement in the home, reducing the spread of dust and other allergens. Additionally, hydronic systems can be equipped with air purifiers or other filters to further improve indoor air quality.
The improved indoor air quality provided by hydronic systems can be particularly beneficial for people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues. By reducing the spread of allergens and other irritants, hydronic heating systems can help to improve the health and comfort of those living in the home.
Hydronic heating systems operate quietly
Hydronic heating systems are also virtually silent, creating a much more peaceful and relaxing environment in the home. This is in contrast to forced-air heating systems, which use a blower to circulate air through ducts, creating noise that can be disruptive to some people.
The absence of a blower in hydronic systems also means that they do not create drafts or hot spots in the home, which can be a problem with some types of heating systems. Instead, hydronic systems use hot water to heat surfaces in the home, providing a consistent and comfortable temperature throughout the living space.
In contrast, other heating systems can be noisy and create hot spots and drafts in the home. For example:
- Electric heaters: Some types of electric heaters, such as fan-forced or radiant heaters, can be noisy as they rely on a fan or other mechanism to circulate air. Additionally, electric heaters can create hot spots and drafts, particularly if they are not properly placed or if they are used in a large space.
- Gas heaters: Gas heaters can also be noisy, particularly if they are not properly maintained or if the pilot light is not adjusted correctly. Additionally, gas heaters can create drafts and hot spots, particularly if they are not properly vented or if they are used in a large space.
Hydronic heating is versatile
One of the advantages of hydronic heating systems is their flexibility when it comes to heat sources. Hydronic heating systems can be used with a variety of heat sources, including gas boilers, electric boilers, and heat pumps, allowing homeowners to choose the best option for their needs.
Gas boilers are a common choice for hydronic heating systems, as they are reliable and efficient. They can be powered by natural gas or propane and can provide consistent and cost-effective heating throughout the winter months.
Electric boilers are another option for hydronic heating systems, particularly in areas where gas is not available or where electricity is a more cost-effective option. Electric boilers can be used with off-peak electricity rates, making them an attractive option for some homeowners.
Heat pumps are also a popular choice for hydronic heating systems, particularly in areas with mild winters. Heat pumps use electricity to extract heat from the air or ground outside the home and transfer it inside, providing efficient and cost-effective heating. As we’ve explained, they can also be used for cooling in the summer months!
Hydronic heating is heat pump-friendly
Heat pumps are a highly efficient heating system that can be used in conjunction with hydronic heating to provide even greater energy efficiency.
A heat pump extracts heat from the air or ground and transfers it to the water in the hydronic heating system, providing an efficient and sustainable source of heating for the home.
This combination of hydronic heating and heat pumps is particularly effective in colder climates, where traditional air-source heat pumps may struggle to provide enough heat. The use of a hydronic heating system as a heat distribution system can provide the necessary warmth to the home while the heat pump provides an efficient source of heat.
Taking all of the above advantages into consideration, hydronic heating is an excellent choice for homeowners in Australia due to its wide range of benefits over other heating systems.
As a heating solution that’s vastly more energy-efficient, comfortable, healthy, quiet, and versatile than other heating systems, hydronic heating should definitely be on your list of options when it comes to winning winter this year!
We can’t wait to help you find a great heating solution this winter!