Can Air Conditioning Provide Efficient Alternative Heating?

    Can Air Conditioning Provide Efficient Alternative Heating

    Until recently, Morag Mackenzie lived in a very cold house in Bothwell. A former librarian, she has lived in the property for 19 years, but it was only after retiring that she realised just how cold it was.

    Her heating system was solely made up of electric night storage heaters but these proved totally inadequate during the winter months.

    ‘They kept things lovely and cosy through the night but not during the day,’ said Morag. ‘They’re a terrible idea really.

    ‘Ideally, I would have liked to install gas central heating but as far as I knew there were no proposals to introduce gas into this estate.’

    Why did she decide to get air conditioning?

    ‘Air conditioning was actually my brother in law’s idea. He lives in Australia and used to be the maintenance manager at a hotel, so he knows all about it. My house was very cold, so he recommended that I get it.’

    Despite its ability to provide heating, it is unusual to have home air conditioning in Scotland. Most people wouldn’t even consider it.

    ‘No, it never occurred to me,’ agreed Morag. ‘I don’t know why it didn’t occur to my brother-in-law before.’

    Installing the air conditioning units

    Having decided to get air conditioning, Morag phoned B-DACS and arranged to have it installed in November last year. Conscious of space, heating requirements and ease of use, we recommended a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries wall-mounted split system, designed especially for domestic use.

    Our engineers installed the indoor unit in the living room and fitted the condenser in the back garden against the house’s rear wall. ‘I thought it was brilliant,’ said Morag. ‘[The system] is quite easy to use and not at all intrusive. The engineers were very friendly and polite and cleaned up after themselves.’

    Does air conditioning solve the heating problems?

    ‘I’m delighted with it. The house gets warm within minutes of switching it on. I put it on in the evening for three or four hours and normally turn it off at about 10pm. If I go to bed at midnight, the room is still warm. It’s much better than electric heaters in that respect.

    ‘[The system] is better than I anticipated, so I have to be happy with that. I wanted to be warm in the winter and it will be nice to have air conditioning in the summer too. Well, after last summer, I think it will, but we don’t get that very often.’

    Soon after installing her air conditioning, Morag found out that gas will be introduced into her estate after all. But she doesn’t regret her decision. ‘[The change] will take some time,’ she said, and in the meantime, I have been cosy this winter.’

    How has the air conditioning affected Morag’s energy bills?

    When we first caught up with Morag after the installation, it was unclear what impact the air conditioning would have on her energy bills.

    ‘I haven’t actually had a bill since it was installed,’ she explained, ‘as I only get statements twice a year. I would expect them to be a bit higher, but I’m not going to complain if they are. It would be worth the extra.’

    Morag was using her air conditioning as much as she needed to stay warm. ‘Believe me,’ she said, ‘I did not stint on having the air conditioning on as and when necessary’.

    However, after waiting six months for her energy bill to come through, Morag had a pleasant surprise.

    Her energy company owed her a £110 rebate and her direct debit was reduced by £7 per month. Even over the winter, the air conditioning units consumed less electricity than the storage heaters.

    The savings were ‘completely unexpected’.

    Air conditioning can be an energy-efficient solution

    It goes to show that, despite popular opinion, air conditioning can provide cost-effective, energy-efficient heating.

    Even if you hardly ever need to switch it onto cooling mode, it can be an excellent solution for your home.

    Generally, air conditioning has a poor reputation when it comes to the environment. However, if you get the right system and use it responsibly, it will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.

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