Space Heating and Cooling


Space conditioning, or heating and cooling, accounts for an average of 40 per cent of household energy use in Australia and 33% in New Zealand.

Note this proportion varies, as the amount of time heating or cooling is required varies according to local climate as well as other factors such as insulation levels and personal thermal comfort expectations.

The below graphs show the breakdown of household energy usage in Australia in 2014.

Share of total energy by end use

Residential Baseline Energy Study: Australia/New Zealand (draft report). Energy Consult July 2015

Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) have had a large impact on the efficiency and innovation of the air conditioner market. The least efficient air conditioner (less than 4kW) today is more efficient than the most efficient air conditioner on the market in 2001.

Selecting the right heating and cooling system can have a big impact on household energy costs. There are a number of choices available to provide heating and/or cooling services to your home.

Not all types of heaters or coolers are covered under the E3 Program. Some of the technologies explored are identified under Types of Cooling and Heating Appliances. When looking to purchase a heating or cooling appliance refer to Factors to Consider. Also refer to the About Air conditioner Labels and FAQs for guidance on energy efficient air conditioners (heating and cooling).

For more in depth information about various technologies or recent research work, refer to Key Documents.


Heating and Cooling Technologies Regulated for Energy Efficiency

Currently, air conditioners, building chillers and close control air conditioners have energy efficiency requirements under the E3 Program. The energy efficiency requirements for air conditioners and chillers are currently under review. To find out more about MEPS for these products check the relevant Australian GEMS determination or the New Zealand Regulations.

Gas space heaters, portable air conditioners, standard electric heaters, wood heaters and evaporative air conditioners are not subject to energy efficiency regulation under the E3 framework.

Household air conditioners (excluding ducted products) must carry an Energy Rating Label. The energy label found on gas space heaters is not overseen or administered by the E3 program.

Is your Product Regulated?

Find out which GEMS determination or regulatory standard applies to your product

All products covered by energy efficiency regulations must meet certain requirements before they can be supplied or sold in Australia or New Zealand.

Depending on the product, this may include Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), energy rating label requirements or both. There are specific requirements relevant to Australia and New Zealand.

At a glance...





New Zealand

Air conditioners – single phase



GEMS Determination


Air conditioners – three phase




GEMS Determination


Air Conditioners - Evaporative No No - -
Air Conditioners – Single Duct Portable No No Under consideration Under consideration

Close control air conditioners (computer rooms)



GEMS Determination


Commercial chillers



GEMS Determination


Gas Space Heaters

Not regulated for energy efficiency by E3

Types of heating and cooling appliances

For households, there are various space conditioning options – these include:

  • air conditioners,
  • evaporative coolers
  • electric and wood heaters, and
  • gas heaters

In the industrial and commercial sectors, other relevant products include:

  • chillers for large buildings, and
  • close control air conditioners, which are primarily used to cool computer equipment.

Factors to consider

Considerations when determining what type of appliance will be used to heat or cool or both needs to take into account the following factors:

  • Access to fuel (electricity, gas, solar power)
  • Purchase costs
  • Running costs
  • Size of area to be heated or cooled.

For space conditioning equipment the usage will vary with the locality, weather, building shell efficiency, building or room size, zoning, equipment type and occupant usage behaviours, plus through the interaction of these variables. See Size Matters for information about what to consider when sizing an air conditioner.

For information on how to save energy when heating and cooling your property, see Your Energy Savings.

Current Work

Air conditioner and Chillers Consultation Regulation Impact Statement

Work is underway on a combined air conditioner and chillers Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) that will consider options to improve the current energy efficiency requirements for these products.

The RIS will consider a number of policy changes to improve the energy efficiency regulations for air conditioners and liquid chilling packages (building chillers). Issues to be addressed include:

  • The current rating method does not take account of the significant impact climate has on the performance and use of air conditioners;
  • Portable air conditioners - inefficient single duct portables are not regulated for energy efficiency, now that test standard has been published they can be considered alongside other technologies;
  • Energy efficiency requirements for some air conditioners and chillers are specified in the National Construction Code which only applies to new builds, not the replacement market; and
  • A number of air conditioner and chiller product categories have inconsistent MEPS levels, due to previous ad hoc policy changes.

Once published, the RIS will be open for public comment, with consultation sessions to be held across Australia and New Zealand.


Zoned Energy Rating Label (ZERL)

Work on developing a new Zoned Energy Rating Label is underway. This new label is intended to apply to appliances for which performance, energy efficiency and/or usage patterns are dependent on the location they are installed. These appliances include air conditioners, space heaters and water heaters.

A variety of factors can significantly impact on the performance and energy efficiency of these products, including air temperature, humidity, cloud cover, water temperature and frosting.  

Any decision to implement a Zoned Label for air conditioners will be considered through a regulatory impact statement process.


Portable air conditioners

AS/NZS 3823.1.5:2015 Performance of electrical appliances - Air conditioners and heat pumps - Non-ducted portable air-cooled air conditioners and air-to-air heat pumps having a single exhaust duct - Testing and rating for performance was published in August 2015. A finalised test standard for this technology will allow its consideration for regulation in the forthcoming combined air conditioners and chillers consultation RIS.

Zoned Energy Rating Label

Zone based energy efficiency labelling map

Zoned Energy Rating Label

The energy efficiency and performance of a certain appliances can be impacted by where it is installed (location) and other factors such as usage patterns and climate variations, including air temperature, water temperature, frosting, humidity and cloud cover.  The E3 Committee is examining a move to a zone based energy efficiency labelling system for some products or product categories.


The Air-Conditioner and Commercial Refrigeration Advisory Committee (ACRAC) functions in an advisory capacity on air conditioner and commercial refrigeration energy efficiency programs. It is not a decision making authority but rather representatives from key stakeholder interests whose role is to inform E3 of their views on any aspect of the regulatory process or proposals.

ACRAC Terms of Reference


ACRAC Meeting Minutes

View all meeting minutes

Compare models


Search the Registration database

Use the registration database to view and compare all products that are registered under the GEMS Act.

Registration database

Online Calculator

Compare the energy efficiency of fridges, televisions and computer monitors, clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, and air conditioners.

Compare models

Mobile App

Download the Energy Rating App to find the running costs of appliances on the go or in store.

Your Energy Savings website


Your Energy Savings website

Visit the Australian Government's Your Energy Savings website for useful information like:


Recent consultations include:

tradesperson fixing hot water heater