Cre­ate de­sired cli­mate for all weather

The Leader (Nelson) - - UNDER ONE ROOF -

Heat pumps do a won­der­ful job of ex­tract­ing warmth from out­side air and de­liv­er­ing it in­side the home. Now, as fo­cus widens from room-by-room heat­ing to cre­at­ing a cli­mate for the en­tire home, flip­ping those heat pumps into re­verse for a cool oa­sis on a hot sum­mer’s day is catch­ing on.

The fact that heat pumps work as cool­ing sys­tems is not lost on most of the world, where sim­i­lar, if not the ex­act same, de­vices are used as air con­di­tion­ers.

In New Zealand, though, cross­ing a build­ing’s thresh­old and be­ing en­veloped in cool, sooth­ing air is still a mark of the most lux­u­ri­ous homes.

Fol­low­ing that same re­fresh­ing feel­ing as you make your way from the kitchen through the lounge, down the hall­way and to the bath­room or bed­room is a tell­tale sign that a ducted sys­tem is lurk­ing some­where, hum­ming away qui­etly out of sight.

Ducted sys­tems em­ploy a sin­gle, large unit hid­den away above the ceil­ing or be­neath floor­boards, pump­ing out con­di­tioned air – warm or cold – through dis­creet ducts to mul­ti­ple rooms.

They are the most com­pre­hen­sive and typ­i­cally most ex­pen­sive way to set your home’s cli­mate.

Heat pump ex­pert Aaron Trot­ter, owner of New Zealand Heat Pumps, which has in­stall­ers in Christchurch and Auck­land, says a much more com­mon and af­ford­able ap­proach is to place an ad­di­tional unit in the hall­way.

‘‘Peo­ple are slow­ing mak­ing the tran­si­tion to hav­ing a warm home, rather than a warm room,’’ he says.

‘‘You can have a high-wall [unit] in your hall­way, set it to 18 or 19 de­grees, and then you don’t have to worry if you leave the liv­ing room door open.

‘‘You don’t ever trans­fer heat from a liv­ing space to another area, be­cause un­less it’s a ducted sys­tem they’re just not de­signed to have air scav­enged off. But there are a lot of ways to achieve a so­lu­tion; it’s just to what de­gree are you achiev­ing it?’’

Giv­ing con­sumers more bang for their buck is the ar­rival of a new, more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly re­frig­er­ant that Trot­ter says is es­pe­cially well suited to heat pumps in cool­ing mode.

Known as R32, the re­frig­er­ant has a global warm­ing po­ten­tial less than a third of that of New Zealand’s most com­monly used re­frig­er­ant, R410A, and it com­presses par­tic­u­larly well, Trot­ter says.

‘‘The more ef­fi­ciently you can get the gas to com­press, the more ef­fi­cient it is, be­cause the com­pres­sor doesn’t have to work as hard,’’ he ex­plains.

All heat pumps work be­cause the re­frig­er­ant in them evap­o­rates at a lower tem­per­a­ture, draw­ing heat from the at­mos­phere as it changes from liq­uid to gas. When func­tion­ing as a cool­ing sys­tem, the heat pump ab­sorbs warmth from air in­side the home, which is car­ried off and ex­pelled via the out­side unit. Re­plac­ing the warm air is a chilled breeze.

The ef­fec­tive­ness of R32 in ex­tract­ing heat from the air makes it a su­perb choice for peo­ple who might want to cool their home in sum­mer, Trot­ter says.

‘‘It can han­dle colder con­di­tions and re­spond re­ally well and it can han­dle hot con­di­tions and re­spond ex­cep­tion­ally well,’’ he says.

‘‘We now push any prod­uct with that re­frig­er­ant, be­cause it’s fu­ture-proof­ing, to a large de­gree.’’

In­stalling ad­di­tional heat pumps in a home al­lows for a grad­ual widen­ing of the com­fort zone at any time of year. A pre­mium op­tion is to in­stall a ducted sys­tem, which can cover mul­ti­ple ar­eas from one, pow­er­ful unit.

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