‘It’s cold in here, can you turn on the air conditioner?’ This is not a phrase we usually expect to hear, as it is still common to associate air conditioning only with cooling. However, using air conditioners for heating is already commonplace in some European countries, including Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro and Croatia. In the modern world of home heating and cooling systems, using air conditioners for heating is an efficient and economical means of maintaining the temperature in your home year-round.
Traditional home heating systems
Over the last century European homes have relied on gas and oil-based heating systems. The heating and cooling sector accounts for close to 50% of Europe’s annual energy consumption, a figure the EU aims to reduce as part of their goal to reduce energy consumption, as a whole, by at least 32.5% by 2030.
The vast majority of homes and buildings across Europe have boilers and heaters that are not only older than their technical lifespan but are also more inefficient by design when compared to their more modern counterparts. Looking to the future, environmental groups are hoping that Europe will see an end to the sale of new gas boilers by 2025.
Using an air conditioner for heating as well as for cooling
Up until more recent years, many people in Europe have not found the need for air conditioning for cooling their homes. However, as global warming has intensified summer temperatures, more people are turning to AC. In 2018, 8.4 million air conditioning units were sold across Europe, 11% more than the previous year.
However, what many people are not aware of, is that air conditioning is not only about cooling in the heat of summer, the same AC system can be used for heating your home in the winter.
So how exactly does an air conditioner heat your home? The quick answer is that it just works the opposite way to cooling your home. Also known as an air-to-air heat pump, in cooling mode the air conditioner draws heat out of your room and transfers it outside. In heating mode, a valve alters the direction of the refrigerant flow so it brings warm air into your home.
Why switch to air conditioning for home heating?
As the world becomes more aware of the issues surrounding global warming and as governments are looking to end the use of traditional boilers and heating systems it is important to look ahead to the future for your own home heating solutions. Even if you had never considered needing AC for cooling, it is an economical choice for heating, so installing air conditioning is a year-round solution and you will be prepared for those hot summers ahead.
Air conditioning uses less energy than traditional gas or electric heating
An electric heater converts electrical energy into heat energy working on the principle of resistance. As electricity flows through a heating element, resistance produces heat which is transferred to the body of the heater and then emitted into the room. This is the basis of heat generation in convection heaters, electric and oil filled radiators and fan heaters.
Gas heating utilises gas to heat water in a boiler. An electric pump then pushes the heated water through a circuit of pipes to radiators around your home and back to the boiler.
Both gas and electricity require a relatively high input of fuel to create enough heat to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. For every kW of energy used, a traditional electric heater produces around 1kW of heat.
An air-to-air heat pump works a little differently from the traditional gas and electric heating systems we are used to. Rather than generating heat from burning fuel or using mains electricity, an air conditioner extracts thermal energy from the air, transferring warm air into your home and taking cold air out. Electrical energy is only required as a power source so the use of mains electricity is much reduced. The use of renewable energy, means an air conditioner can create up to three times as much heat from the same amount of electricity used by an electric heater, making it a far more economical choice and significantly decreasing your energy bills.
Air conditioning uses renewable energy, making it a sustainable and economical heating solution
According to the International Energy Agency, the use of ACs is set to soar over the next three decades. To ensure as a result they don’t become a key contributor to rising electricity demand, it is essential that modern air conditioners utilise the latest technology to be as efficient as possible. By investing in efficient ACs that primarily use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, emissions of carbon dioxide can be greatly reduced and local air quality vastly improved.
We are already seeing encouraging trends in the use of renewable energy across Europe. In 2012, renewable energy accounted for 12% of the total energy used for heating and cooling, this figure had risen to 23% by 2020.
As a consumer, by installing air conditioning for heating your home you are contributing to a more sustainable future for the environment around you and also providing a better heating alternative for your home and your pocket.
When deciding on an air conditioning system it is important to think about the future and consider the long-term costs and sustainability factors. The energy rating is a good indication of how efficient a system is. Daikin AC units have up to A+++ energy ratings, meaning they are highly efficient. You should also consider the type of refrigerant used in the AC system, the R-32 is currently the most advanced refrigerant, carrying heat more efficiently than others, allows for a smaller refrigerant charge and has a lower global warming impact, reducing its effect on the environment by up to 75%.
Maintenance wise there is not a lot needed to keep your air conditioning in top condition. However, you should regularly clean the filters and have it professionally serviced to ensure it is always doing its job most effectively.
Year round climate control with air conditioning for heating and cooling
Even if you hadn’t considered installing a cooling system into your home, air conditioning is an ideal option for heating too, so by adding air conditioners as your new heating system, you will also have the facility to keep your home at a comfortable temperature at any time of the year.
Air conditioners can operate in a wide range of temperatures to cool or heat your home, but in some colder climates an enhanced system may be needed to handle extreme cold. Daikin has a specific optimised for heating range that has been tested for reliable operation down to-25°C.
Air conditioning also comes with additional benefits that you might not have thought about. By running air conditioning, you maintain good ventilation and a comfortable level of humidity throughout your home. Some air conditioners also have an air filtration or air purifying function which improves the air quality in the room by removing dust and potential allergens.
Choosing to install air conditioning is an ideal option to future proof your home heating solution. The additional benefits of cooling in summer, improved air quality, high efficiency and low running costs, make it a valuable addition to your home.