So, as we spend more time indoors and we expect more in terms of comfort conditions, the requirements and performance of our HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems has never been higher. In response the HVAC industry has developed systems that have never been better at keeping us safe, comfortable and healthy. However, a lot of work goes into the design, installation and maintenance of these systems and it can be quite easy to take heating, cooling and hot water services for granted.
In this guide, we’ll take a close look at the increasingly important topic of Indoor Comfort. We’ll also consider the work of heating and cooling specialists, and why it’s important to know who the best person is to call to keep your systems maintained, or if the unwanted happens and you have a break down who is going to get things up and running quickly.
What is Indoor Comfort?
Indoor comfort addresses a variety of issues, including thermal, visual, and acoustic comfort as well as air quality. Comfort, by definition, is a state of mind, defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as ‘a pleasant feeling of being relaxed and free from pain.’ Indeed, comfort is the personal sensation of feeling comfortable. It is simply the absence of discomfort, which is certainly a nice feeling to have.
These personal factors need to be paired with good building practices, such as thermal insulation and reduction in heat loads, as well as the health considerations such as fresh air supply, humidity control and removal of dangerous gases such as Carbon Monoxide (CO). Whilst indoor comfort may be largely personal, there are a number of factors that are crucial to help keep your family safe and healthy. Not only can poor temperature control help to make things less comfortable for you, but certain people are also at risk when temperatures drop or soar. For example, the elderly and infirm will always need systems that can help to balance heat and cold in equal measure. Also, those who suffer from asthma are often triggered by environments with low humidity or with lots of air movement causing more dust in the air. For some, it’s a standard that can be crucial to everyday wellness, not just everyday comfort.
So, when you consider all the factors that affect indoor comfort and a healthy indoor environment, you can see that the choice and design of your HVAC system requires a level of professional advice. You don’t want to spend a great deal of money on a system that either doesn’t cater for your needs, is expensive to run or promotes poor indoor air quality.
How can heating and cooling specialists help to keep your home temperatures and indoor air quality at a safe and efficient balance all year round? Let’s take a closer look.
To understand the best way to heat your home it is useful to learn a little about the different types of heating systems.
Space Heating Systems
Whilst the use of a space heating system is not an efficient way to heat a whole house evenly, if you only required certain rooms to be heated, the installation of an adequately sized space heating system can be an economical product choice. Do you only want to heat your living space and hate hot bedrooms? Then consider a space heating system in the living space only.
Space heaters come a number of different types using different energy sources. In Victoria the ready supply of Natural Gas has meant that many homes use wall furnaces, gas log fires and other gas space heaters. However, in areas without natural gas electric heaters are sometimes used as a simple way to heat a small area. Although these are generally very inefficient, consuming a lot of energy to produce the required heat.
As reverse cycle air conditioning technology has improved over the past few years, with the advent of very efficient Inverter systems, people are now choosing a reverse cycle split system air conditioner, which can provide heating and cooling over a heating only system.
Before we go further it is important to explain what a split system is! Most people think of a split system (or ‘splitty’) as the rectangular unit that sits high on the wall in a single room and is connected to the outdoor unit through a short run of refrigerant pipes. Whilst this is not incorrect, this is just the most common type of system, called a hi-wall split fan coil.
In a space heating (or cooling) design the most common air conditioning systems are hi-wall units and cassette units. Each of these different units has their pros and cons that your specialist can advise you on depending on your installation requirements.
Central Heating Systems
The most common form of central heating uses a heating source, such as a gas furnace or reverse cycle ducted split A/C system. They are commonly installed in the roof or under floor space. The warm air is then distributed throughout the property using a network of flexible ducts that branch out to each outlet from the heater, like the branches of a tree.
Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning systems have now improved in efficiency due to Inverter technology that sees them at least three times more efficient than a gas system, coupled with a fast-rising price and dropping supplies of gas, reverse cycle systems are quickly becoming the best choice for indoor comfort.
To understand the best way to cool your home it is useful to learn a little about the different types of cooling systems.
When combined with good cross ventilation the use of ceiling fans is a must in any environmentally conscious home.
Evaporative Cooling Systems
Evaporative coolers are most commonly installed on the roof with a network of ducts supplying cooled air into the house. They work by drawing hot dry air from outside across pads that are constantly kept wet by a supply of water. The evaporation of the water as the air crosses the pads cools the air, which is then distributed throughout the house.
As the only operational parts of the cooler are the electric water pump and fan, evaporative coolers are very energy efficient. The fans of newer units are also very quiet allowing for them to be run during the night without disturbing neighbours or the occupants of the house.
As the units work by evaporating water, they add moisture content to the air in the house, in dry environments or for those that are sensitive to extreme low humidity, this can be a nice benefit.
However, their effectiveness drops as the outside air humidity increases and on extremely hot days the evaporative effect makes it difficult to drop the inside temperature by more than 7-10 degrees.
Refrigerated Air Conditioning Systems
Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning systems (reverse cycle refers to the ability for the unit to Heat or Cool depending on the mode selected) have now improved in efficiency due to Inverter technology that sees them as the best choice for year-round indoor comfort. As summer sets in with hot temperatures across Melbourne, it becomes crucial to keep cool, whether you are at work or home. Modern AC systems are more affordable thank we think, easy to use, and simple to maintain.
What’s more, modern ACs are environmentally friendly with a much lower carbon footprint than their predecessors and can be simple to install. Just as you’d expect to turn on a heater to warm up your home in winter, you can turn on a cooling system to chill things down. A fan or an outdoor breeze through the occasional window (especially when it is 35 degrees plus outside), isn’t always going to do enough.
As with heating systems, you can cool down your home with a single room unit that is sized to suit a single space or a larger ducted unit, that can condition the air in multiple rooms.
Like ducted gas heating systems, ducted air conditioning systems can also be zoned to allow rooms that are not being used to be closed off, which reduces the workload required of the unit.
Add-on Refrigerated Air Conditioning Systems
Add-on cooling may be a suitable option where the occupants like the style of heat provided by gas heating systems but are looking for a whole house cooling solution. Add-on cooling uses the network of ducts that are already in place for the heating system as well as the fan from the heater, with the addition of a ‘add-on’ refrigerated coil and outdoor condensing unit (add-on split system).
So, if you already have a central ducted heating system, add-on cooling may be a potential solution to provide cooling throughout your home.
It is always best to consult with specialist expert designers with years of experience create and build systems that work to cool spaces of various sizes. When a system has been well designed, using the correct sized units and type of installation, all you should ever need to do is press a button (or tap your smartphone) to get things up and working!
Hot water specialists work with a variety of complex systems and industry standards, to ensure that you have a constant supply of hot water throughout your home. Modern water heating systems are marvellous feats of engineering, where we are able to deliver the right temperature hot water to multiple points throughout your home or office, at the turn of a tap, without running out when you need it most. Hot water system design has moved on from just a simple storage tank that is sized hopefully not to run out when the family are all using the shower.
Therefore, you should always be ready to speak to a specialist to install or repair a hot water system for your home or office.
Take Control of Home Comfort
Make sure to continue reading our resources on heating, cooling and hot water for more advice and guidance. We will be exploring more topics relating to indoor comfort over the coming weeks. Alternatively, do call our team directly for any direct indoor comfort support you require.