When most people think of air conditioners, they usually associate them with cooling a home. However, modern air conditioning units are capable of more than just cooling. They can also be used to heat your home, making them a versatile and convenient choice for year-round temperature control. But, just how effective are air conditioners at heating your home, and what are the pros and cons of the alternatives? Here's what you need to know about AC heating.
How does AC heating work?
To understand how air conditioners can heat your home, it's essential to know how they work. An air conditioner typically works by removing heat and humidity from the air inside your home and expelling it outside. This is done through refrigeration, which involves the use of a refrigerant to transfer heat from one place to another.
When you switch your air conditioner to heating mode, the process is reversed. Instead of removing heat from the air inside your home, the air conditioner extracts heat from the air outside and brings it inside to heat your home. This is done using a component called a heat pump, which works by absorbing heat from the outside air and releasing it inside.
How effective are air conditioners at heating your home?
Air conditioners can be highly effective at heating your home, especially in areas with mild winter weather. In fact, many modern air conditioners are designed to provide both heating and cooling functions, making them an all-in-one solution for year-round temperature control.
However, the effectiveness of an air conditioner at heating your home depends on several factors. Firstly, the size of your air conditioner will determine how much heat it can produce. If your air conditioner is too small for your home, it will struggle to keep up with the AC heating demands. Conversely, if your air conditioner is too large, it may cycle on and off frequently, resulting in poor energy efficiency and uneven heating.
Furthermore, the outdoor temperature can also affect the heating performance of your air conditioner. Heat pumps work best when the outdoor temperature is above freezing, as they rely on the heat energy in the air to warm your home. In colder climes, the air conditioner may struggle to extract enough heat from the outside air to heat your home effectively.
Alternatives to AC heating
While air conditioners can be effective at heating your home, they are not the only option available. Here are some of the pros and cons of alternative AC heating methods:
Furnaces are a popular choice for heating homes, especially in colder climates. They work by burning fuel (such as natural gas or oil) to generate heat, which is then distributed throughout your home via ductwork.
Pros: Furnaces are highly effective at producing heat and can quickly warm up a home. They are also relatively inexpensive to install and can last for many years with proper maintenance.
Cons: Furnaces can be expensive to operate, especially if you live in an area with high fuel costs. They also require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation.
Boilers work by heating water, which is then distributed throughout your home via radiators or underfloor heating systems. The heat from the water radiates into the room, providing warmth.
Pros: Boilers are highly efficient and can be a cost-effective option for heating a home. They are also quiet and can provide even heating throughout a home.
Cons: Boilers can be expensive to install, especially if you need to retrofit your home with radiators or underfloor heating. They also require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation.
3. Electric space heaters
Electric space heaters are portable devices that can be used to provide heat in a specific room or area of your home. They work by converting electricity into heat, which is then radiated into the room.
Pros: Electric space heaters are relatively cheap to buy and simple to operate. They essentially use a heating element and a fan to warm a room.
Cons: They are horribly inefficient and expensive to run. Blasting expensively generated hot air at you might feel nice in the cold, but you'll feel less good when your next electricity bill arrives.
How to improve your AC heating
Air conditioners are, essentially, dumb white goods whose most intelligent feature is often their timer. If you leave them on accidentally, they'll keep going and going... even if you're on holiday. When they try and deliver your ideal temperature, they often use power surges to (uncomfortably) dump hot air into a room until an average is reached. But, there is another way.
Using a smart air conditioner controller to manage your AC heating gives it smarts that can learn your preferred, comfortable temperature and maintain it without you interfering. It will also do this efficiently by incrementally adjusting the temperature rather than using expensive power surges.
If you're not looking forward to coming back to a cold home (or office) you can use an app on your phone to activate your AC heating as the smart aircon controller is both connected to the internet (via Wi-Fi) and your aircon unit (via the same infra red that its remote uses). The controller can even identify when you're approaching (or leaving) your home and office and automatically turn the AC heating on or off accordingly - it knows your phone's location!
Having smart AC heating is also great for looking after pets when you're away and it can be used to maintain a remote residence, in cold climes, to stop pipes from freezing.
If you'd like to transform your air conditioner unit into smart AC heating, check out Ambi's smart AC controllers. They can save you money and add all manner of useful features.