Air conditioners a must for all seasons

More than just a luxury, air conditioners are needed to beat South Africa’s sweltering summers and frigid winters

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South African weather patterns, like much of the rest of the globe, are changing. Typically a moderate climate country, the last few years have seen us experiencing more extremes than we’re used to, from summer highs of well above 40 degrees Celsius to winter lows of below freezing. Air conditioners have been adapted to meet these fluctuating weather patterns, offering the perfect succour from sweltering heat waves and providing warm, welcoming rooms in the winter cold.

More than just a luxury

Air conditioners have an historical and outdated reputation in South Africa for being “luxury” appliances, reserved for offices, hotels and middle to upper class residences. This perception is changing, though, as homes of all shapes and sizes become smarter, and air conditioners become more cost effective, functional, and multipurpose. Air conditioning systems, much like automatic washing machines, have evolved into a necessary component for comfortable living.

There are a number of reasons for the increased uptake of residential air conditioners. Firstly, the cost of air conditioner units is nowhere near as prohibitive as it has been in the past, with affordable options available for a range of residential applications. From basic, wall split units to fully integrated, centralised smart air conditioning systems, homeowners have no reason not to live comfortably any more.

Secondly, the changing design of modern homes to more open plan structures means that a single higher-powered unit can be used to cool many rooms, further increasing cost effectiveness. On hot summer days, people no longer need to be confined to a single spot or room where a fan’s power is concentrated in order to stay cool, nor do they have to huddle around a heater or fireplace to stay warm in winter. 

Even those homes that are less open plan can benefit from better heat and cold distribution in their homes, thanks to the speed at which air conditioners operate. People do not need to wait interminable hours for a room to reach a comfortable temperature and, thanks to energy efficiency, air conditioners are able to maintain a constant temperature within a room or home at all times, making for an environment in which one can relax in comfort.

Energy smart

Heaters and fans usually take a long time to heat or cool a room to satisfaction, and they often need to be switched on and off multiple times as the room gets too hot or too cold. This make them extremely energy inefficient. In fact, we are only too aware of the pressure that winter heating puts on the power grid in South Africa.

Air conditioners are, conversely, very energy efficient. Due to their automatic adjustment and constant maintenance of temperatures, as well as the speed at which they can heat or cool a room, they use a lot less energy than other temperature controlling devices. Further development such as “follow me” technology, which automatically controls the temperature of a room based on its occupancy, only serves to add to the green nature of air conditioners.

A standard requirement

In South Africa, we are renowned homemakers. Braais, sit down dinners, at home movie nights and having friends around to watch a sporting event – we tend to do much of our entertaining at home. Air conditioners that maintain comfortable temperatures go a long way to ensuring the success of these events, as people are able to relax and enjoy themselves without being affected by outdoor climes.

At night, many South Africans close up their houses, locking windows and keeping doors closed for security reasons. This stops effective airflow and can exacerbate poor sleep. Air conditioners not only maintain an even temperature, but also allow for clean, purified air to flow through the home, negating the downside of being shut in. Added to this, most air conditioners are equipped with filters which help to remove dust, pollen and other allergens from the air, making it healthier for families as well.

Top all of these benefits off with the fact that the cumbersome air conditioners of the past have been replaced with sleek, value adding and aesthetically pleasing devices, and it’s easy to see that no South African home is complete – or completely comfortable – without an air conditioner.

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This edition

Issue 39