In New Zealand’s variable climate, the most popular option for air conditioning is a stand alone heat pump, as it will both keep you cool in summer and warm in the winter but ceiling units are another, less utilized option. Note that Heat Recovery Systems are neither heating nor cooling units (unless these are fitted) though you may notice efficiencies with both if you have one installed.
A heat pump works the same way your fridge does. It removes warm air from one side of the house wall and transfers it to the other – outside to in, if heating (even if it’s colder outside), and inside to out, if cooling. Because it uses coils rather than heating elements, a heat pump can be very energy-efficient to run.
Choosing a system
Efficiency depends on choosing the right size and type of heat pump for your home, and there are a range of options on offer. You can buy a single unit for one room, or a multi-system unit for two to four rooms. Choices break down further into wall units, floor units, ceiling units or fully ducted systems. If doing a new build, then consider a whole-home ducted system, with the heat pump installed in the roof cavity and vents built into ceilings.
It’s important to consider the size of your room. Larger rooms require more powerful models. Remember, even though a larger unit may cost more upfront, it will run more efﬁciently when heating a large space and so use less energy on an ongoing basis. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has launched a rating system, called the Energy Star Mark, that allows you to identify particularly efficient units.
Buying a unit and installing it yourself may not be the best option in the long run – installation to manufacturer’s specifications is often imperative for warranties to be valid. Choosing a professional installation service is likely to be both trouble-free and more cost-effective overall. You’re also more likely to get the type of unit most suitable for your requirements. As well as efficiency, check how loud the unit is – some can be noticeably intrusive.
Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems
A true heat recovery ventilation system is a ducted home ventilation system designed to remove the stale damp air while also introducing fresher drier air into your home. The key to the system is the heat exchanger, which recovers heat from the air inside the home, before it is discharged to the outside, and simultaneously warms the incoming air. Heat recovery systems typically recover 67–95% of the heat in exhaust air.
Advantages of heat recovery systems include:
- Reduces heat loss from inside the home
- Recovers already generated heat, saving you money on your electricity costs
- Can be easily used effectively in combination with heat pumps
- Allows effective ventilation where open windows are a security risk and in windowless rooms (eg interior bathrooms and toilets)
- Operates as a ventilation system in summer, by bypassing the heat exchange system and simply replacing indoor air with outdoor air
- Reduces indoor moisture in winter, as cooler air outside will have lower relative humidity.
- Heat recovery systems meet the requirements of fresh outdoor air ventilation in Building Code Clause G4 Ventilation.
Remember, these are not heating systems (unless a unit is also installed), so some means of warming the house is also needed.
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