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by V R DENWOOD MBE
Sqn Ldr RAF ret
8 October 2018
We had air conditioning installed by “Climate by Design” of Biggleswade in September 2016. Our house has solar electric panels which have been fully exploited in the use of the air conditioning system. Also, this year, we had a smart meter installed which has made air conditioning system usage and cost monitoring so direct and accurate. The air conditioning has been faultless in its operation since installation.
During this summer in late July it reached 37C outside our house, yet inside the living room it was 23C and very comfortable. The system was on a low fan setting and was cycling on and off during the day so it was easily capable of providing the cooling needed. Also, since it was so sunny, the solar panels provided all the power needed, and so our electricity cost was nil.
Heating the House
The air conditioning system can also provide heating, so last year, before we had the smart meter, on a bright day we would run the air conditioning to provide warmth instead of using the gas fire or central heating, but would use the gas fire on cloudy days when the solar panels were limited in power. The smart meter arrived in February and for the first time I was able to evaluate the cost of our gas appliances.
Central Heating 30 pence per hour
Gas Fire level 1 8 pence per hour
Gas Fire level 2 11 pence per hour
Gas Fire level 3 16 pence per hour
Gas Fire level 4 20 pence per hour
It should be noted that we primarily used the gas fire for most of our heating needs, and only used the central heating for a short period after a particularly cold night.
Until now, it has been too sunny and warm this year to use the air conditioning for heating, but on 6 October we had very heavy cloud so the solar panels were not activated, and it was 8C outside with rain. Accordingly, we had the opportunity to see what load the air conditioning would draw from the electric supply, without the solar panels taking over. The remote-control thermostat was set to 22C and the system was switched on. After an initial surge of power whilst the system was pressurizing the smart meter showed a consumption of
360 watts at a cost of 4 pence per hour. The living room temperature soon rose from 17C to 22C and the system then started cycling on and off to maintain that set temperature; we were comfortable.
Previously, without the information provided by the smart meter, on such a cloudy day we would have run the gas fire on level 2 all day at a cost of 11 pence per hour. However, that trial showed that we could use the air conditioning to replace the fire at less than half the gas running cost.
Additionally, since the air conditioning is thermostatically controlled we only used energy when needed to top up the living room temperature, so we only paid for energy actually needed. The gas fire has no thermostat so we just turn it on and leave it.
Furthermore, because the air conditioning is blowing air into the room all corners are heated, whereas the gas fire has to rely on natural convection to heat the room so a lot of warmth migrates to the ceiling.
We have concluded that, even without solar panel assistance, the air conditioning system is the cheapest option to heat our living room, rather than the gas fire. We will reserve use of the central heating, to provide general house background warmth, until after an extremely cold sub-zero night.
Climate by Design - Specialists in installation and servicing of heating and cooling air conditioning systems in commercial and residential premises. Based in Bedfordshire covering, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire , Northampton, London and the Home Counties, in the United Kingdom.
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