Heating your house in Tasmania – gas and electricity options

We first published this post in July last year and now that the weather is getting a little chilly we thought it timely to bump it up to the top for all our new readers and those of you contemplating your move to Tasmania. 

Heating your house adequately is a topic that arises for people considering moving to Tasmania or wanting to upgrade their house in Tasmania. As for many areas in the southern parts of Australia, the winters do get cold in Tasmania. Amazingly you will find that many houses are not adequately heated. Often heating will only be in the living areas, or if added to the bedrooms this may be small panel heaters. Central heating is not common and can be frustrating, especially when looking for a rental home. Of course when  you are looking to buy you have the option of upgrading the heating after settlement and hopefully before winter!

 

Gas Heating in Tasmania

We have lived in many different places around Australia and had many different types of heating and cooling. In our house in Gisborne Victoria we had ducted natural gas heating plus evaporative cooling. Natural gas however is relatively new to Tasmania and is about twice the price of what we were paying in Victoria. If you want to see if your house can be serviced by natural gas then check out the map and information at the Tas Gas website: Pipeline Locator | Tas Gas

Our house in Sandy Bay is serviced by natural gas and we had it connected during the renovations of the house in Spring 2011. You have a choice of two suppliers – either Aurora or Tas Gas. They both charge the same price for the gas but Aurora runs a program called Aurora preferred suppliers whereby you can use one of their accredited suppliers and then the fitness of the product (making sure it does what is claimed) and the workmanship is also guaranteed by Aurora. It was for this program and the extra piece of mind that we chose Aurora to be our gas supplier.

Depending on what type of gas system and appliances you install then there may be an installation fee for the pipeline or none at all. As we are installing a full ducted heating system then we didn’t have to pay any installation fee for the gas pipe and gas meter. If you only install gas hot water then there is a reduced charge.

LPG gas is also available throughout Tasmania and you can use this for your heating needs though unfortunately it is about twice the price of natural gas.

 

Electric Heating in Tasmania

Electricity costs have been going up dramatically throughout the whole of Australia and Tasmania is no different. Tasmania has only one retail electricity supplier for individual small consumers (large businesses have more choice) and that is Aurora. You are therefore stuck with the price that is set and you cannot shop around for a better deal unlike the situation on the mainland.

The most prevalent form of heating in Tasmania is called heat pumps. From Googling it seems that this name is unique to Tasmania and New Zealand. The mainland more simply calls them reverse cycle air conditioners. Depending on the size of the heat pump that you install you may be eligible for a reduced electricity cost from Aurora – please ask them for more information.

If purchasing a heat pump also make sure it is one of the brands that is guaranteed to work in low temperatures. Tasmania gets more chilly at night and in early mornings than some places on the mainland so you need to make sure your unit is going to be capable of operating effectively and efficiently.

You can of course purchase a ducted heat pump system to heat your entire house but the cost of this can range from $15,000 to $20,000.  The cost of a ducted gas heating system is also much more expensive in Tasmania than it is on the mainland. In Melbourne particularly you can get a ducted gas system for between $4,000 and $5,000 and sometimes even less on sale. In Hobart we found out recently that the same system could cost $8,000 to $9,000 installed.

 

How are we heating our house in Tasmania

After much consideration we decided to go with a “ducted” “central” hydronic heating system for our house powered by a natural gas boiler. This involves putting hot water powered radiators throughout the house and the system works by utilising hot water to heat the radiators and the entire house.

One of the radiators during installation & Charlie in front having a nap (and it’s not connected)

Hydronic heating as a guide is more expensive than ducted gas but far cheaper than a ducted heat pump system.

We operate the system using one of the automatic programs (which can be adapted to suit you) so it comes on each morning and off again around bedtime. It is also set to come on if the house gets below a certain temperature overnight. Even in summer it did come on a little some evenings and in the last couple of months is working much harder.

We have lived in houses with heat pumps, ducted gas and now hydronic and hydronic is by far the best by a mile. It is just so superior and you feel warm everywhere in the house -whereas ducted gas has drafts and the temperature goes up and down as the system goes on and off.  Hydronic keeps the house at the set temperature all the time. Plus it is silent and often you don’t realise it has come on (except now when it is on most of the day and evening!).

 

Heating your house, what upgrades you might need to make and other associated issues are all things you need to consider when buying a house in Tasmania. If you would like Settled In to help you find your perfect house and explore these issues with you then please contact us . We look forward to assisting you.

What is your experience with heating in Tasmania? We would love to hear from you.

 

Note: this post has been amended  in July 2014. We previously recommended a supplier for hydronic heating and can no longer make that recommendation. We do not have personal experience with a supplier that we can recommend. 

 

Photo Credit: geoffeg via Compfight cc

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15 Comments

  1. Honoria July 12, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

    Hi. Great article. I thought I’d add a few tips based on our experience, moving to Hobart from the mainland in winter several years ago.

    We found that getting good quality curtains custom made for our windows – with pelmets – has helped to keep heat in and reduce our energy costs (our winter electricity usage has actually gone down). We’d always had blinds on the mainland (various cities) and they seem to be very trendy right now. The house we bought had very nice, newish ones so we were reluctant to replace them, but I’m glad we did. I love the warmth, texture and opulence they add to a room. They also suit our older ‘character’ home much better (I promise you I’m not in the soft furnishing business or real estate). Best of all, once installed they cost nothing to ‘run’ or maintain.

    We have 2 south facing rooms (that we were a little worried about when we bought the house) but actually we have no trouble keeping them warm. Fortunately they have large windows that allow plenty of natural light, so they feel light and bright. In mid-winter, when the sun hasn’t much warmth to it, they are still pleasant rooms to sit in, but may need a a boost for half an hour or so from an electric heater. Closing the curtains in late afternoon / early evening keeps the heat from escaping.

    We have a ‘heat pump’ which heats the main open living areas very effectively when required. On cold nights, we run an energy efficient electric heater the bedrooms for an hour or so before bedtime (and switch them off overnight). We can also run them for a short period at other times if a quick burst of heat is needed. This is all the heating we run and it keeps us warm and comfortable most of the time. We don’t waste energy heating rooms we’re not using. We also use ‘draught sausages’ and keep doors closed.

    Overall, I’d say keeping our house warm and cosy is much easier and cheaper than we expected it would be. Plus, we don’t have the expense of air-conditioning in summer.

  2. Jo July 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your comments Honoria. Window furnishings most definitely make a difference, thanks for adding that to the list of things to consider. In our last house in Victoria we were in a colder area outside Melbourne and built a house, so we included double glazing. That was an amazing difference and our house never really got too hot or too cold, along with the heating/cooling that we never had to leave on overnight.

    In terms of expense, we are waiting for our first winter bills since being in this house with our gas heating. Last bills were pretty good, but only included the very start of the colder weather.

    Jo

  3. Jo May 29, 2013 at 2:00 am - Reply

    A comment from Cal that came in on email…

    Hi. Thanks so much for the brilliant article. After moving from
    Melbourne, we have just bought a house in Hobart. We love it here, but
    the single ‘heat pump’ in the living room is inadequate, so I would
    like to upgrade the heating system. However, I plan to move 5 years
    from now and rent out my house, so I need to find the right balance
    between heating and finance. We have gas and I’d love to install a
    hydronic system, but spending $11000 on a 5 rad hydronic system seems
    a little excessive if we will be leaving in 5 years. However, I would
    consider it if it would increase rent income a bit. Another factor
    would be running costs. I was wondering, how many rads do you have and
    how much does it cost to run?

    I was also considering ducted heating, but if I’m going to spend
    $6000/7000 on heating, I’d probably spend a bit extra and get
    hydronic. I have also thought about installing electric panels as a
    cheaper option.

    Thanks for your time,
    Cal.

  4. Jo May 29, 2013 at 2:05 am - Reply

    Hi Cal,
    Thanks for your comment and questions. Our system has 8 radiators in a three bedroom house. One in each bedroom and living room, one hallway, two in kitchen/dining and one in the bathroom. We have found the cost to be very good. Our gas bill for around January-April period was only $60, although we suspect this may be an error… we use gas for heating, hot water and the stove. Our previous bill over summer was a little higher. Last winter our gas was approx $180 per month in the coldest months. Also keep in mind that we work at home so the heaters are running at a reasonable temp all day most days.

    Re renting out a home, I am sure good heating will always be attractive to tenants. Too many homes in Tasmania have inadequate heating and often just in the living area which is never enough. All other things being equal, a property with excellent heating would certainly stand out from the pack.

    I hope I have helped you a little in making this decision. I would recommend getting a few quotes as they tend to vary and their recommendations on the number and size of radiators will also vary.

    Jo

  5. Kerista June 3, 2013 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    Hi there,
    We are about to move from WA to Launceston, and are trying to figure out which way to go with heating. We already have electric panel heaters in the bedrooms, and just need something to heat the lounge/ dining/ kitchen (open plan) area. It’s a 1890 weatherboard house, natural gas isn’t an option in this particular area (Trevallyn) and we are concerned that a heat pump won’t be able to handle the colder night temperatures. (Ours here even struggles when it’s under about 4 degrees!)

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  6. DaleReardon June 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Hi Kerista,

    Heating is indeed very important in Tasmania and having grown up in Launceston it certainly gets cold during Winter.

    The Tasmanian power company which is currently the sole supplier of electricity has a preferred suppliers program and accredits certain shops for selling and installing heat pumps as we Tasmanians call them.

    I believe there are only 2 brands, Daikin and Mitsubishi, that are guaranteed to work in the cold temperatures and not ice up. You certainly cannot go with an ultra cheap brand – it just won’t work in Winter. We currently have hydronic heating ourselves and absolutely love it but I have had Mitsubishi heat pumps in Hobart at a bed and breakfast property I owned and they worked exceptionally well.

    It is important to also have them sized correctly to get to the temperatures that you like. I personally like my heating to be around 23 degrees whereas they normally only size for 21 so we needed bigger radiators than usual.

    I just remembered that I also had Daikin heat pumps in Toodyay Western Australia and it gets just as cold as Launceston there during Winter and even hotter in Summer and it coped fine. Quality is the answer.

    You can get bottled LPG gas where you are but I’m not sure of the running costs with that.

    Dale.

  7. Shaun September 17, 2013 at 1:25 am - Reply

    So far as heat pumps are concerned, Daikin and Mitsubishi both work fine in Tasmanian conditions and are the way to go. Of the two, there are far more Daikin dealers in Tas than any other brand – there’s good reason for that!

    Of the other heating options, natural gas or wood (in a proper combustion heater) will both do the job well and reasonably cheaply. LPG, heating oil and non-heat pump electric heaters are comparatively expensive to run – OK if you’re only using it of an evening but will cost too much to run all day, every day.

    LPG is fine for cooking if you want gas cooking however and don’t have mains gas available. There are several companies which will supply household LPG – Origin Energy, Kleenheat, Elgas and Supagas. That said, if you just want to run a gas cooktop as many do then having the gas fitter set it up for 2 x 9kg bottles and swapping them yourself at a service station or hardware store is what many do since it saves the cost of supply fees charged for larger cylinders.

    Another option not widely used in the other states is wood pellets. Basically, it’s an automatically controlled wood fire that burns special pellets which come in bags. You just fill it up with pellets every few days, actual operation being controlled by switches just like gas or electric heating. The better ones have electric ignition too. It’s more expensive than a heat pump or ordinary firewood, but an option if you like the look of a “real” fire and don’t want the hassle of dealing with normal firewood and don’t have mains gas available. Just be sure to buy pellets by the tonne (delivered as a pallet load of bags) to get a good price – don’t buy from a certain well known BBQ shop that charges a fortune for them!

    The best means of actually heating as such (ie keeping you warm) is undeniably wood. But that is also by far the most hassle and mess. A properly sized heat pump, gas or other system will also keep you nice and warm – the key being “properly sized” especially in the case of heat pumps.

  8. peter tacon August 1, 2015 at 11:48 am - Reply

    That was very informative as i am relocating to Tasmania next week.
    Heating is a new concept as i am a Queenslander and we do not need that in our state.
    As you said heatiing can be expensive but as we need to keep warm so there is no use in complaining.

  9. Jamie January 13, 2016 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Wow, interesting read. I dont know but the image i had in my head for a heat pump was km’s of pipes dug into the ground in a field.

    We are looking at moving end of the year and winter/cold will be something new to us as we have lived with the heat for a few years.

    I did however live in goulburn nsw for awhile. We have a large gas heater under the stairs in the hallway that heated the rooms downstairs and bedrooms up. Only issue was everydoor had to be opened.

    Wondering if solar is enough to power the heating.

    • Jo (Admin) January 13, 2016 at 9:40 am - Reply

      Hi Jamie – in the rest of Australia heat pumps are called reverse cycle air conditioners. Obviously Tassie marketers like to focus on the heating aspect rather than the cooling! – Jo

      • Jamie January 13, 2016 at 10:42 am - Reply

        Loving the site, great for people making the move. We are looking for a small farm outside hobart to take a few years out of the ratrace while i study.

        The good life in a great part of the country

        • Jo (Admin) January 13, 2016 at 10:50 am - Reply

          Thanks for the feedback Jamie.
          I am in the midst of planning a website reno, so watch this space! There will be all the old and some new things too.

          Tassie is perfect for the country life. You can enjoy that lifestyle and if you like, still not be too far from one of the main cities. The best of both worlds.

          Jo

  10. Henry September 22, 2016 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Really great post, I found it super informative. We’re visiting Tasmania next month for a week to scope out whether it will be a good fit for our family in the next year or so. We’ve only read great things about Tassie, although have never been ourselves. We look forward to visiting next month.

  11. John September 28, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    I am inclined to want to fit a wood heater in our house when we move in soon coming from NSW. I am hoping someone can recommend some options for me and make me aware of pitfalls. I have live in an area that is regularly sub zero in winter and not often about 8 as a max. and we had a louge area we could seal and only used a small oil heater to keep it toasty. We then had an electric blanket that wnen on about 1 hour before bedtime and we turned it off when in bed. Maybe we are not normal because it was mostly 35 + in summer with about a week of weather over 40, We very very rarely used our air con and found a small fan sufficient. kinda old fashioned people I guess …use it only when you really need it.

    John

  12. Mary jenkins October 20, 2016 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Another suggestion is solar panels backed by panel heaters. My Noirot heaters cost around $400.00
    Plus installation. I have only needed one in each room. I built with first consideration being insulation , double glazing plus in some rooms double curtains and pelmets. I’m not young so wanted to be cosy on chilly times. There’s snow on Mount Wellington & it’s windy but my small place is snug.
    Mary
    Ps.
    After 3 years living in Cygnet Tasmania I can say only positive things about living here.

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