With the depths of the gloomy winter months now well and truly upon us, the importance of having sufficient, preferably instant heat in our homes is all too real. It’s as though we completely forget how cold it gets every year!
As a kid, I can recall vying for the best spot in front of the gas wall furnace in our single-brick converted-garage-come-family-room, or in front of the combustion wood heater that occupied the lounge room – our only two forms of heating. My parents would have a similar memory when they were kids – of the wood fireplace, at least.
Of course, winter in Sydney is not so tough in comparison to our south-of-the-border neighbours’, who had a rude awakening to a 1.7-degree celsius morning recently – and it was still Autumn!
Likewise, cooling and good airflow through your home during those sweltering summer months can be vital to your comfort, especially impacting how well you sleep.
Unlike past decades when we had very few options, choosing the right heating and cooling system today can be a challenging task. With energy costs on the rise, energy efficiency a large focus and heating and cooling making up about 40% of household running costs, it’s important to make the right choice for your lifestyle and budget.
Let’s take a quick look at what’s available.
Gas Ducted Heating
This is one of the more common systems, especially in homes built between 10 and 30 years ago. Before houses were built on concrete slabs, gas heating ducts were installed under the flooring. One might argue this was more efficient than the ceiling duct method used these days. Because hot air always rises, releasing heat at ceiling level means it mostly hangs out there, not where you need it at ground level.
It still does the job but if your home has airy 7-metre high ceilings, it’s probably not going to be efficient or a sufficient way to heat your home.
Split System (Reverse Cycle) Air-conditioning Units
Another popular option is individual air-conditioners like split systems which provide heating and cooling. Each unit has an external condenser unit and an internal wall-mounted air distributor. Depending on the unit, the kW size in relation to the size of the area it’s servicing and the manner in which you use it, it can be very cost-efficient.
If you’re the type to run it at 32 degrees all winter and 18 degrees all summer, not only should you consider moving to the northern hemisphere where the seasons are more aligned, you’re also in for some expensive bill surprises!
If used for a couple of hours a day at no lower than 24-25 degrees on cool in summer, and around 20-21 degrees heat in winter, it should cost you somewhere between $40-$150 a year.
Unfortunately, split system units can be an eyesore and have the potential to ruin the aesthetics of your luxury Merit Home. Fortunately, the same type of unit can be recessed into a bulkhead, showing only a grill or air vent. Very sleek!
In part 2 of this article, we’ll go into some more recently developed heating and cooling systems, as well as some basic design methods to ensure maximum energy efficiency.