Energy Efficiency of Aircon vs Gas Heater vs Electric Heater

energy efficient heaters gas heater vs aircon

As the temperatures drop and our energy bills rise in South Africa, families are on the lookout for affordable heating solutions that won’t break the bank. When it comes to heating your home, you may be torn between options such as aircon, gas heaters, and electric heaters. 

In this article, we’ll explore the energy efficiency of these three choices, providing you with the information you need to make a smart and cost-effective decision for your family’s comfort.

Understanding Energy Efficiency

Before diving into the specifics, let’s briefly discuss what energy efficiency means. Essentially, it’s all about getting the most out of the energy you use. An energy-efficient appliance is designed to provide optimal performance while consuming minimal power. Now, let’s see how our contenders stack up against each other.

Aircon: Stay Cool in the Summer, Warm in the Winter:

When you think of air conditioners, you may associate them with keeping your home cool during scorching summer days. However, did you know that air conditioners can also be a great heating option for winter? Aircon prices have become increasingly affordable, making them an attractive choice for families.

Air conditioners work by transferring heat energy from one space to another, meaning they can both cool and warm your home efficiently. In fact, air conditioners with inverter technology are known for their exceptional energy efficiency. These models regulate the compressor speed, adjusting it according to the temperature requirements. This technology ensures that the aircon uses only the necessary amount of energy, saving you money in the long run. 

Find out more about inverter air conditioners.

How Much Will It Cost to Heat My Home with an Aircon?

Great question! And one which thousands of people will be glad you asked. 

If you have an air conditioner already installed, or if you’re looking to buy a new air conditioner, you’ll want to determine a few facts and figures. 

  • First off, aircons usually come with a BTU rating, which gives you a jump-off point when determining the size unit you need for the room you’re heating. (For help determining the size unit you need for your room size, read our helpful article on inverter vs non-inverter aircons here.) For the sake of these comparisons, we’ll work on heating a room of approximately 50 sqm, which is a pretty average size for an open plan living/dining room, and this would require an 18 000 BTU aircon unit. 
  • Next, you’ll need to know how much electricity costs in your area per kWh. 
  • Then you’ll need to estimate how long you’ll be running your air conditioner each day. 

Check your product’s specifications to determine its heating and cooling output, which will offer your kWh.

Your formula will look something like this for the below 18 000 BTU LG Inverter air conditioner:

Heating power required = 1500w

1,5 kW x 180c (An approximate cost of electricity per kWh in SA) = 270c or R2,70

Therefore each hour will cost you R2,70

LG 18000BTU Artcool Inverter Air Conditioner - A19AKH

LG 18000BTU Artcool Inverter Air Conditioner – A19AKH

Gas Heater: The Warmth of Flames

Gas heaters offer a cosy and traditional heating experience with the warmth of real flames. They are fueled by natural gas or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and can quickly heat up a room. 

However, when it comes to energy efficiency, gas heaters may not be the most economical choice.

While gas heaters can provide instant heat, they also produce combustion gases, which can be harmful if not properly ventilated. Additionally, gas prices can fluctuate, affecting your heating costs over time. It’s essential to consider these factors when evaluating the long-term cost-efficiency of a gas heater.

How Much Will It Cost to Heat My Home with a Gas Heater?

Let’s use the same formula as above, assuming we’re heating a room of 50 sqm. 

  • Gas heaters generally offer a straightforward kW rating which varies depending on how high you set them. Many professionals approximate attaining a comfortable home environment at 100W per square meter when exploring gas or electric heaters. Therefore, a 50 square meter room requires 5000W of heating power.
  • Next, we need to determine how much gas costs. In South Africa, we pay around R35 per kg for a gas refill. (This doesn’t include the cylinder, which is usually purchased separately.) 
  • 1 kg of gas offers approximately 14.019 kWh when used in a heater. 
    • R35 / 14 = R2,50 (cost per kWh)

To heat a room of approx 50 sqm requires a gas heater operating at around 5 kW (Or two smaller units)

5 x 250c (Approximate cost of gas per kg per hour)  = 1250c or R12,50

Therefore each hour will cost you R12,50

It’s important to check the kW rating of your gas heater when you purchase it, as some may offer less than 5000W output. 

Totai Premium Two Tone Gas Heater - 16/DK1015

Totai Premium Two Tone Gas Heater – 16/DK1015

Electric Heater: Plug and Heat

Electric heaters are popular due to their affordability and ease of use. They simply plug into an electrical outlet, making them convenient for any room. However, in terms of energy efficiency, electric heaters may not be the most cost-effective option.

Electric heaters convert electrical energy into heat, but they can be quite power-hungry. They may lead to higher electricity bills, especially if used for extended periods. It’s worth noting that electric heaters are best suited for small spaces or as supplemental heating rather than being the primary heating solution for your entire home.

How Much Will It Cost to Heat My Home with an Electric Heater?

There are several models of electric heaters to choose from, ranging from small radiant space heaters to larger fan heaters. To determine electric heating costs, we can use the same assumptions as above. 

  • Electric heaters generally also offer a kW rating, although most don’t go beyond 2400W, so you may need to buy a couple for larger spaces.
  • Next, you’ll need to know how much electricity costs in your area per kWh. 

To heat a room of approx 50 sqm requires an electric heater operating at around 5 kW (Or two smaller units operating at 2400W.)

5 x 180c (Approximate cost of electricity per kWh)  = 900c or R9,00

Therefore each hour will cost you R9,00

Delonghi Ceramic Fan Heater - HFX30C18.AG

Delonghi Ceramic Fan Heater – HFX30C18.AG

Which Heating Option is Best?

When exploring the nitty gritty of the actual running costs of various heaters, we see that aircons are the cheapest in terms of actual energy consumption. What works best for you and your family may need a little more consideration. 

For example:

  • Air conditioners offer the added functionality of cooling your home in summer, while electric heaters only have a single function. 
  • Aircons will also clean your inside air, which helps with allergies and overall health. 
  • Air conditioners can be set and sustained at varied temperatures.
  • Electric heaters are very affordable to buy compared to air conditioners.
  • Gas and electric heaters are mobile and can be moved from room to room.
  • Gas heaters don’t rely on a municipal electricity supply.

The Heat is On

When it comes to the energy efficiency of heating options, the aircon emerges as the overall winner. Their ability to cool and warm your home, coupled with advancements in inverter technology, makes them the most cost-effective and practical choice. To explore a range of air conditioners and their features, visit our aircon page.

Remember, when choosing a heating solution, consider factors such as upfront costs, long-term energy consumption, and the size of your space. To stay warm while saving on energy bills, an air conditioner, especially one with inverter technology, is a smart investment.

If you’re looking for even more savings, don’t forget to check out our specials and promotions page. It’s a great opportunity to find fantastic deals on heating solutions and other household appliances. Stay warm and cosy while keeping your energy bills in check!