The Aussie sun likes to make us sweaty under the neck and we have something of a love affair with ‘AC’ because of that. And we break out the electric blankets as winter rolls around and prepare for the worst. But what if we told you there was a way to crank on the heat at home without being surprised by the bill? What? How? Using your air conditioner for the heating process!
How To Use The Heating Air Conditioner
Most air conditioners have reverse cycle technology these days, giving you the luxury of heating and cooling from a single unit. Heat and cold control modes come with most AC systems. Then you can easily turn on the heat setting (usually the sun symbol button) on your air conditioner’s remote controller, adjust the thermostat to your desired temperature, and sit back while your indoor machine heats the atmosphere if you feel a little chilly at home. It is simpler, cooler and cooler to use reverse cycle air conditioning than compact heaters that can overwhelm electric circuits.
What is air conditioning in a reverse cycle?
Reverse cycle air conditioning is a device that simultaneously heats and cools the house using reverse cycle technology. In reality, it’s two structures in one. Basically, a reverse cycle air conditioner helps you to reverse the AC unit’s refrigeration cycle (hence the term “reverse cycle”) to create heat instead of cooling. It operates like a standard air conditioner while the reverse cycle unit is in refrigeration mode.
But how does air conditioning reverse cycle function?
Reverse cycle air conditioners (also widely referred to as heat pumps) actually drain heat from outside air and carry it in instead of using electricity to produce heat. Using a refrigerant and external coil, reverse cycle systems create heat to trap heat from outside, which is then circulated through a generator and through your inner unit’s condenser to steam your building. An extra advantage to reverse cycle air conditioners is that the air in your house can be purified and dehumidified as well.
5 tricks for heating the air conditioner
Now that we’ve discussed the basics, here are some ideas for heating your home by using your air conditioner.
Clean your AC: Give your AC unit a thorough cleaning first. Filters inside air conditioners appear to accumulate dust and other nasty particles that, when heat is thrown into the mix, can induce mold and be a fire hazard. For cleaning directions, consult the owner’s manual.
Choose the right temperature: Configure your AC to maintain the temperature between 18 and 20 degrees within your house. Any degree beyond that will raise the energy intake by up to 10%.
Turn to auto mode: Don’t set and forget the heat mode. Often, switch to auto mode. This feature helps the AC device to retain the temperature you like. This keeps the fan going at the slowest pace for the shortest period of time to conserve fuel.
Redirect the louvers downward: As hot air rises, this would ensure maximum air ventilation in your home in winter. In summer, don’t hesitate to move them back up.
Get your AC serviced: to keep it running properly and as energy-efficient as possible, some vendors suggest having your AC serviced once a year. This is to discourage further expensive maintenance down the track.
How much does a reverse cycle air conditioner cost to run?
Let’s talk about currency. The typical reverse cycle air conditioner costs about $0.13- $0.36 per hour to operate for heating purposes. In contrast, it costs more to power a gas heater, at $0.43- $0.51 per hour, while electric heaters will set you back $0.50- $0.60 per hour.
It recovers more heat than the energy it absorbs, which is the beauty of a reverse cycle machine. For eg, 3-4kW of heating or cooling would be produced by 1kW of consumed electricity. And, believe it or not, it’s much easier to operate a reverse cycle air conditioner per hour than a microwave ($0.28-$0.53 per hour).
Were they all reverse cycle air conditioners?
Most new air conditioners are reverse cycle models these days, but there are also a handful of cheaper and older models that will only fit with a cooling system unit. Here are the major types of air conditioners for reverse cycles:
Split system: A split system is an air conditioner separated into two units, one mounted on a wall inside and one outside. This is simpler to build (no duct work) and best for just a few rooms at a time to be heated.
Cassette unit: A cassette unit is a split device as well, but mounted on the roof with the indoor unit. It is more durable than a wall-mounted device and is used for commercial and industrial uses in general.
Multi-head split system: This is another air conditioner split system that can have multiple indoor units (up to seven) connected to a single outdoor panel. For individual rooms in the home, this facilitates improved temperature regulation.
Wall or window system: This is a single air conditioning unit that can be placed on a wall or window with all the components in one enclosure. These will only cool a single room or heat it. Normally, this is the most economical choice.
Ducted system: A ducted air conditioner operates in the ceiling from a central indoor unit which is then attached in each room to multiple ducts. It is best to cool or heat an entire home with this option. It has an exterior unit as well.
Air conditioning reverse loop versus gas heating
A gas heater generates heat energy, while an air conditioner pumps heat from the air in the reverse cycle, which is much more energy efficient and thus, in the long term, cheaper. Let’s take a peek.
Gas heating: 1kW of gas burned, around 1kW of heat generated.
Reverse cycle system: 1kW of electricity consumed, 3-4 kW of heating is produced.
It will cost $0.20 to $0.30 more per hour to operate total gas heating. But if you live in a very cold place, since it works independently of outdoor temperatures, gas heating can be more energy efficient. Often, gas systems are able to heat a room quicker than reverse cycle systems. Any form is much cheaper than electric heating, in any case.
Air conditioning reverse loop versus electric heating
At least three times more energy efficient than an electric heater is a reverse cycle air conditioner. That’s because an electric heater has a power to heat output that is one to one. Below, check it out.
Electric heating: 1kW of used energy, 1kW of heating is made.
Reverse cycle system: energy consumed by 1kW, heating produced by 3-4kW.
With that said, electric heaters can be useful for heating small rooms and, as opposed to reserve cycle systems, don’t cost much upfront or to be built.
How much does building a reverse cycle device cost?
The initial cost of building an air conditioner depends on many factors, including, but not limited to, the unit’s type, brand and height, how many windows and walls need to be installed, how much piping and interconnecting cable is required, and so on. Here, though, are certain construction costs that you may be looking at for various forms of air conditioners.
Is an air conditioner reverse loop worth it?
Reverse cycle systems are more energy consuming and therefore much more environmentally friendly than most other heating systems. They’re easy to use as well and can reasonably quickly heat large rooms and your house. The only downside is that installation and maintenance will cost more, although this can be compensated by cheaper operating costs. Plus, if you want to keep your home warm in winter and your wallet full, this form of device will last you up to 20 years, so it’s an investment worth making.