There’s no greater disincentive to get out of bed over the cold winter months than the inevitable barefoot dash to a chilly bathroom. Your air conditioner is probably the last thing on your mind as you’re snap-frozen into submission over the winter months. But it shouldn’t be. Imagine if you could use your air conditioner as an efficient winter heater? It might sound simply too good to be true, but at the touch of a button, a reverse cycle air conditioner gives you the option of heating and cooling systems for year round comfort.
Anatomy of an air conditioner
The fact that it is possible for some air conditioners to also work as heaters boils down to their basic anatomy. Reverse cycle air conditioners are designed to heat air as well as cool air, and their ability to do so is because the process (the cycle) can be reversed.
In order to cool and dehumidify the air in your home, the air conditioning unit pulls in warm air from its surroundings inside the house. That warm air is then passed over a refrigerant, which has the effect of dropping the temperature of the air dramatically. The cooler air is then pushed back into the home, cooling it. The refrigerant warms up during this process because heat is transferred from the air to it. The refrigerant warms up to the point that it evaporates into a gas. The gas at this point is at quite a high pressure. It is pumped back outside the home, which allows it to return back to a liquid form. Once a liquid, the refrigerant flows back inside, completing the ‘cycle’. If you have a reverse cycle air conditioner, that cycle can be reversed so that heat is drawn from outside to inside, (even from seemingly cold air) and that heat is utilized to warm the air in the home.
The types of air conditioners that offer cooling and heating systems
You might think that the reverse cycle function is only available in a very narrow or expensive class of air conditioners. However, its popularity and efficiency has meant that consumer demand has resulted in reverse cycle air conditioners becoming more widely available. You’ll now find a reverse cycle feature in many systems on the market. Ducted and split system air conditioners are now much more likely to have a reverse cycle feature. Most air conditioners have shared features and similarities: An external coil, a compressor and a fan coil unit (condenser). That’s why you will now find reverse cycle features widely available in both ducted and split system models:
Ducted air conditioning systems
A ducted system usually has all components together in a single unit, often housed up in the roof cavity or if that’s not an option, elsewhere. Those components work together to cool the air and then the cooled air is then fed through to the rooms below via a system of ducts to outlets in the ceiling.
Split air conditioning systems
A split system differs significantly from a ducted system because it the component parts are usually housed in two separate units. Normally, you’ll have one on an external wall (outside your home) and another on an interior wall inside the room that you want to cool.
The availability of the reverse cycle cooling and heating system in both ducted and split system air conditioners means that you can now have a much wider range of air conditioning choices open to you with the added bonus of a heating function. What’s more, it’s a feature that is now much more efficient and affordable than ever before.
What are the benefits of having a reverse cycle air conditioner installed?
One of the main benefits of having a reverse cycle air conditioner relates to the costs of installation itself. If you have separate systems of cooling and heating in your home then you will effectively double your installation, maintenance and service costs. A reverse cycle air conditioner integrates heating and cooling into the one unit. In the case of a ducted system, the same ducts and outlets or vents are used to circulate the cooled and the warmed air. You can have all of the benefits of ducted heating without the additional network of heating ducts being crammed into your roof space alongside cooling ducts. Less ducting in the roof void means that it’s easier to access that space for the purpose of carrying out maintenance and repairs to your home, checking for damage to roof tiles, installing or replacing insulation or checking for pests.
A reverse cycle unit is also more aesthetically-pleasing for a couple of reasons: In the case of a ducted system, you’ll only have one outlet or vent for both cold and warm air, so it’s much more streamlined. In the case of a split system you won’t find yourself in the position of having, say, a wall heater and an air conditioning unit in the same room. That will leave you with a lot more wall space to decorate with the things you’ll actually enjoy looking at.
Another benefit relates to outlay. You only have to buy one unit not two, so in the long run you can make a significant saving if you invest a little more at the time of purchase and upgrade to a reverse cycle unit as opposed to a unit that is just an air conditioner.
For families with small children or pets, one of the greatest risks posed by traditional heaters is the risk of burns. Open fires, gas heaters and wood burners are a great attraction for inquisitive little fingers. With a reverse cycle air conditioner, the risk of your loved ones being accidentally burned is dramatically reduced. That’s because the source of the heat is well out of reach. Your family’s safety is paramount and that’s why a reverse cycle unit is a responsible choice.
Reverse cycle air conditioners and efficiency
Surely there must be a catch? You’re probably thinking that a reverse cycle air conditioner will cost a bomb to run. But that’s far from the truth. The initial outlay might be higher but reverse cycle air conditioners can be very efficient and cost-effective. You can easily assess and compare the energy efficiency of different units because they will normally boast an energy star label. For more information about Energy Efficiency Ratings click here . It’s a website that boasts a mobile-friendly app allowing you to type in a brand and model number to compare its energy efficiency to similar units on the market. Making an informed choice about the energy efficiency of your air conditioner (or any other household appliance) has never been easier, more accessible or more portable. Smart decisions about energy star ratings at the time of purchasing your air conditioner will pay dividends in the long run.
Getting the most out of your investment
If you make the decision to install a reverse cycle unit, there are a number of ways in which you can get more bang for your buck. Set the thermostat at about 18°C because that’s the point at which the unit will run most efficiently. Check to ensure that your home is drought-proof wherever possible and that you have adequate insulation. Window furnishings such as blinds and curtains also play a role in keeping heat in. There is no point in having a great system of heating and cooling only to lose those benefits as a result of poor insulation.
A reverse cycle air conditioner is a smart investment. Best of all, you’ll find that there’s no longer any need to delay that emergency dash to the bathroom. With a heating and cooling system, you can be confident of a much more pleasant transition from horizontal to vertical, even on the coldest of cold winter mornings.
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Contact us to explore your reverse cycle air conditioning options with our friendly team at H & H Air Conditioning