16th June 2016 –
As we in the Southern Hemisphere move into the winter months, many of us start thinking about how we’re going to heat our homes in the most efficient but cost-effective way.
We made it through the summer months using the air-con sparingly if at all (I think ours went on three times when the humidity got above 90%) but the thought of freezing over winter has about as much appeal as a cold shower.
Many homes in this part of the world are fitted with reverse cycle air conditioners or heat pumps that we use for cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. However, how you use these for heating will make the difference between being warm and busting the bank, or comfortable and not killing your budget.
Reverse cycle air conditioners work by extracting heat from the air by passing it over refrigerated coils and transferring it inside as cool air. The cycle can also be reversed to heat the air inside the house. They can also filter and dehumidify the air for a dryer, healthier environment.
In fact, used properly, reverse cycle air conditioners are one of the most cost effective ways to heat your home, besides cutting down a tree for the log fire, and by using some simple tricks, you can cut down on power wastage.
- Use the timer
The first step to an efficient heat pump is learning how to use the timer feature.
Don’t leave your heat pump on all day if you’re not there, or all night. You can set the unit to turn on half an hour or so before you get home or before you get up in the morning.
Using the timer also avoids the common mistake of cranking up the heat pump when you get home or first thing in the morning.
- Set it to the optimum temperature
Constant toggling of the heat pump thermostat is not ideal.
It is advisable to set the thermostat to a healthy temperature of around 18 degrees Celsius in winter.
- Keep it clean
Clean the filters regularly to ensure your heat pump works efficiently.
- Look for the blue stars
Look for the blue energy star rating when buying a heat pump.
This mark identifies superior energy efficiency.
Like all heaters, heat pumps can use a lot of energy so it pays to get an efficient model.
And finally, shut doors to rooms that aren’t in use, and curtains to help keep the heat in.
More information on heating your home or choosing the right system can be found at the excellent website of Energywise (NZ).
Tell us about how you heat your home each winter? Do you notice the power bill skyrocket or do you have smart ways to keep it reasonable?
UPDATE: According to a couple of readers RC-AC units are not big in North America and I think I’ve discovered why.
According to Wikipedia “Air-source heat pumps are more popular in milder winter climates where the temperature is frequently in the range of 40–55 °F (4–13 °C), because heat pumps become inefficient in more extreme cold. This is because ice forms on the outdoor unit’s heat exchanger coil, which blocks air flow over the coil. To compensate for this, the heat pump system must temporarily switch back into the regular air conditioning mode to switch the outdoor evaporator coil back to being the condenser coil, so that it can heat up and defrost.”
So RC-AC may be more prevalent in the southern states where the climate is milder. Any comments on this are welcome.
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Thanks for that and have a great, warm day.