Gas Heater vs Split System Air Conditioner: Which Is Best For Winter?

With so many options, it’s hard to decide on the right heating solution to keep you warm through winter. Gas heating and split system air conditioning are two popular heating systems in Australia – but how do you know which is best for you?

Consider the pros and cons of each option and understand what your home requires. Just because one of the options works better for others does not necessarily mean it will for you.
With that, let’s dive into what’s the difference between the two.

1. Gas Heater vs Split System Air Conditioner: What’s The Difference?

Gas Heater

Gas heaters work by using natural gas to heat indoor or outdoor spaces. They come in different shapes and sizes and have traditionally been a popular choice for Australian households because of their efficiency.

The way they work is simple – the heater burns gas, which then produces heat and is released into the room by fans. These heaters require a gas connection to function.

Split System Air Conditioning

Split systems are wall mounted air conditioning units that work to condition the air in a single space/room. Not many people know this but split system air conditioners can provide both cooling and heating solutions. Unlike gas heating systems which require a gas connection to operate, split systems need electricity to run.

2. Pros And Cons Of Gas Heaters and Split System ACs

To help you get a better idea of what each system can do, we’ve put together a list compiling the pros and cons of each. We’re considering energy usage, costs, installation and other factors.

Gas Heater Split System Air Conditioner
Energy usage (~3 months of winter) 4,050MJ – 6,750MJ 224kWh – 478kWh
Running costs (~3 months of winter) $96 – $327, depending on size of heater and energy star rating $57 – $121, depending on capacity of air conditioner
Efficiency  Uses 3x more energy than air conditioners to produce same output 3x more efficient than gas heaters.
Effectiveness in cold weather (important to note) More effective in extreme cold weather because they’re not impacted by outside temperature Less effective in extreme cold weather
Ease of installation Easy to install, especially if you already have a gas connection Relatively straightforward to install but requires specialist knowledge and skills
Safety (families with children etc.) Risk of faulty heater spilling carbon monoxide in your home, which could make you seriously ill or kill you.


To mitigate this:

  • Service every 1-2 years
  • Check for safety instructions (some heaters require fresh airflow to work safely)
Old air conditioners can be a breeding ground for bacteria and be a fire hazard


To mitigate this:

  • The average lifespan of an air conditioner is 15-20 years. Be sure to replace your unit if it’s passed this stage
  • Service your AC once every year
Other benefits
  • Small and can be mobile, depending on type
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Dual functioning, with both heating and cooling
  • Long lifespan of up to 20 years
  • Uneven heat distribution
  • High risk safety issues
  • Outside unit can be an eyesore
  • Higher maintenance costs

3. How To Decide Which Is Best?

Split system air conditioners tend to have higher up front costs compared to gas heaters. However, split systems become more affordable to maintain in the long run.

Gas Heater Split System Air Conditioner
Purchasing + installation Unflued: < $1,000

Flued: $1200 to $2500

$1,500 – $5,000
Servicing cost $150 – $300 (once every 1-2 years) $190 – $ 200 (once every year)

During extremely cold months, you may find yourself intending to leave your heater system running all day long. In this case, a split system air conditioner would be the more cost effective option.

Gas heaters use 3x as much energy than split system air conditioners to generate the same output, making them less efficient. This is because split system air conditioners use electricity to generate thermal heat while gas heaters burn gas to produce heat.

Heating And Cooling Features

Split system air conditioners are versatile as they can provide both heating and cooling. This makes it easy if you’re trying to save on space and additional installation costs.

Also, in some cases if heaters are left unused for several months they may require maintenance to function properly. Having a single system that you’re using all year long would prevent this problem from happening.

Size Of House
When deciding to get any heating system, you should first know how much power you require for your space. If you’re looking to provide heating just for several different rooms, you can choose to get a few units of split system air conditioners or gas heaters.

However, if you’re looking to heat your whole house, you might want to consider getting a ducted split system or gas heater. A ducted system can work to sufficiently heat larger spaces.

Gearing Up For Winter

Gas heaters used to be really popular when gas prices were lower but moving forward, split system air conditioners seem to be the way to go. They use less energy and work more effectively in the long run.

Thinking of upgrading or replacing your heating system? Speak to our trained technicians to find out what would be the best solution for you.