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Why it’s Time to Remember Air Conditioners are Heat Pumps

How air conditioning can help lower gas consumption this winter.

With uncertainty over the supply and prices of natural gas, EU member states are working to reduce consumption by 15 per cent this winter. Finding alternative sources of heating is the obvious solution with ubiquitous HVAC systems presenting as one of the least obvious candidates.

Air conditioning systems in place in many buildings are fundamentally air-to-air heat pumps that are capable of heating buildings in a very efficient and effective way. In the case of a 600m² building, using the air conditioning system as an air-to-air heat pump to heat ambient air can help save up to 112,880kWh of natural gas – and reduce heating costs by 25%.

Given the challenges the European Union is currently facing, the European Commission has drawn up the European Gas Demand Reduction Plan (1) which recommends member states reduce gas use voluntarily by 15% between now and March 2023. According to the EU, large savings can be achieved in the way we heat and cool our buildings.

It is estimated almost 30% of commercial buildings in the EU are still heated by gas (2) while some are also equipped with an air conditioning system. It is often not understood that an air conditioning system is an air-to-air heat pump, which can be used for efficient and effective space heating. Buildings can significantly and immediately decrease their gas demand by using their air conditioning system in heating mode and simultaneously lower overall costs. 

Reducing the gas bill

Calculations from heat pump manufacturer Daikin show that using an air conditioning system for heating significantly reduces natural gas demand. In the example of a 600m² office building, a VRV air-to-air heat pump avoids up to 112,880kWh of natural gas use compared to traditional space heating (3). On top of that, businesses can reduce their energy cost with nearly 30% thanks to a heat pump. For a business operating in Belgium this means reducing its heating cost from 25,237 euro to 17,695 euro per year (4).

Why is a heat pump so efficient?

An air-to-air heat pump has both an indoor and an outdoor unit. When operating in cooling mode, the indoor unit extracts heat from the inside and transfers it to the outdoor unit, which rejects the heat to the outside. The operation can, however, be reversed to heat indoors, using heat extracted from the outdoor air by the outdoor unit. Even at outdoor temperatures well below 0°C, an air-to-air heat pump will still efficiently provide heating.

A heat pump is up to four times more efficient than a gas system as three-quarters of the energy used for heating comes for free from the outside air while only consuming a quarter in electricity use.

Further reducing energy use

If a building already has a heat pump installed, it can be optimized by using energy-saving systems that will further reduce the energy bill. Intelligent cloud systems like Daikin’s Cloud Service provides clients with access to tools that not only detect excessive energy use in parts of their building, as these systems also allow them to act fast and intervene where needed.

Daikin supports the European energy transition with various heat pump solutions. With its Environmental Vision 2050, the company aims to be carbon neutral throughout its entire value chain and life cycle of products and solutions by 2050.

Sources

  1. COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS “Save gas for a safe winter” (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52022DC0360)
  2. Energy balance – Final consumption – other sectors – commercial and public services – energy use: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/bookmark/5463efac-cd35-4d4c-b027-d706050cdf7f?lang=en
  3. Calculated by Daikin’s Seasonal calculator available on Daikin’s business portal (registration needed) (https://my.daikin.eu/denv/en_US/home/applications/software-finder/solutions-seasonal-simulator.html), calculated for a 28HP VRV heat pump with 15 indoor units connected, with estimated heat load of 100W/m²
  4. Based on V-test performed on 05/10/2022 at https://vtest.vreg.be/ with Engie Flow gas PRO Gas contract: 25,236.90 euro/year for traditional heating (112,880kWh of gas) vs Engie Flow PRO electricity contract: 17,694.78 euro/year for using a VRV systems for heating (28,192kWh of electricity) (prices include energy cost, distribution cost, taxes, excl. VAT for Ostend, Belgium)

Author

  • Daikin Europe

    Air is essential to our existence, and our role in protecting it continues to expand. Since 1924, we have devoted ourselves with unbridled passion to overcome the ever-evolving challenges of air to become the leading manufacturer of air conditioning equipment. Leveraging our innovative technology, we deliver outstanding products and system solutions to provide comfortable and sustainable interior environments for all of the people and regions of the world. This is, and always will be, the Daikin mission.

CAMFIL HVAC Filtration Solutions

Daikin Europe

Air is essential to our existence, and our role in protecting it continues to expand. Since 1924, we have devoted ourselves with unbridled passion to overcome the ever-evolving challenges of air to become the leading manufacturer of air conditioning equipment. Leveraging our innovative technology, we deliver outstanding products and system solutions to provide comfortable and sustainable interior environments for all of the people and regions of the world. This is, and always will be, the Daikin mission.
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