The latest air conditioners are energy effecient, healthy and stylish enough to blend into the look and design of your home.
Australian summers are the perfect time to entertain and show off
anyone going to be keen for a party if your house is unbearably hot?
Your house’s cooling system is just as important as any other element of your home, particularly if your family suffers from respiratory illnesses such as asthma and allergies – some air conditioners today can clean the air of dust particles and other impurities, not to mention purge the room of odours.
We’ve come a long way since the days of unsightly desk and freestanding fans. Air conditioning units these days come in modern, sleek designs; and are often effective not only to cool the one room, but the entire house as well.
CHOOSING A UNIT
There are several different types of air conditioners. Window units are complete air conditioners that are installed in a wall or through a window – you simply close the window down on it, plug it in and turn it on. These units are perfect for small rooms or apartments because they are neat, compact and easy to install. These usually come in both cooling and reverse cycle mode (that is, they both heat and cool). Portable air conditioners are console units that, as the name suggests, can be moved around the house. Like window units, they cool a local area only, but cost a bit more due to the advantage of being portable.
Split units (sometimes known as central air conditioners) are the most adaptable type of air conditioner – despite their larger size, they can be placed anywhere. Strictly speaking, these systems split the hot side of the system from the cool side. There units usually require professional installation.
The latest in split unit air conditioners use something called inverter technology to be more energy efficient. Shibily Moidy, Product Manager for Home and Life Solutions at Hitachi, explains: “An inverter air conditioner reaches the required temperature quicker, and then it maintains the temperature continuously by changing the fan speed and the compressor. It’s 35 per cent more energy efficient than constant-volume air conditioners.
“Ducted air conditioners modify the temperature of a whole house through a series of ducts and grilles. Once again, you’ll need a professional to install this system.
While many people are moving away from ceiling fans these days, there are still some stylish options around if you think they’ll fit the design of your house.
Your climate is also an important consideration when choosing the air conditioner that will be the most effective for you. Refrigerative air conditioners, which cool by extracting heat from the air through a process called refrigeration, are perfect for tropical climates with high humidity.
Evaporative air conditioners, which extract humidity from the air, are suitable only in dry climates. They cost much less to run than refrigerative units.
As with most household appliances these days, the trend for air conditioners is to be
more aesthetically pleasing and to blend in with surroundings. “In terms of look, the
shift is towards what we call a slimline design, or a flat panel design,” says Hitachi’s Moidy. “Traditionally, wall-hung split air conditioners had grooves in them, and now they’ve pretty much got a clear face. There are three main benefits of this design.
The first is that they are easier to clean and look pleasing to the eye; secondly, distribution of air is increased; and thirdly, the sound level is significantly reduced.”
Energy efficient air conditioners are obviously a major concern for many homeowners these days, given that it’s a simple way to save money on your operating costs. There are two different energy rating labels used today – one for air conditioners that cool only, and one for reverse cycle air conditioners.
Cooling air conditioners will have a blue band only with stars in it, which indicates how energy efficient the model is. The more stars, the more efficient the unit. Reverse cycle air conditioners have separate ratings for both their heating and cooling modes, working on the same principle.
If you are buying a unit for a single room, choose the right model for that room’s size. Manufacturers recommend you allow 130 watts per square metre of floor space for daytime cooling and 80 watts for the night. This information should also be contained on the unit’s energy rating label.
But saving money goes beyond choosing the right unit. There are several things you can do in terms of operating to save energy.