We all know children are more receptive to learning in the right environment. One of the key factors to personal comfort is having the right room temperature.
Temperatures can vary widely throughout the year so the classroom needs a system that ideally provides a comfortable temperature all year around, eg a heat pump (aka reverse cycle air conditioner).
When looking for a heat pump think about the area(s) you want to heat or cool. There is a heat pump system to suit everything from a single classroom to an entire building. A qualified installer will take down information on the area to ensure the best system is selected. This will include details on the floor size, existing insulation, and even windows can be a factor. The size and location of your heat pump will drastically impact on its effectiveness in your home. Sticking with an experienced installer ensures you’ll get the right system to see you through many a season, keeping children warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
There are different types of heat pumps: wall mounts, floor mounts, cassettes, underceiling, in-ceiling ducted, single or multizone types. These different types of heat pumps suit different applications, eg small/large room, high/low ceiling Other features worthy of consideration are quietness, air filtration levels, outdoor coil protection and room occupancy sensors. Your installer will make sure you get the right one that suits your room and your budget.
How about efficiency? The more efficient the unit the less they cost to run. A heat pump is arguable one of the most efficient forms of heating on the market. For every $1 of electrical input you put in, you can get $4 or more worth of heating output. This is due to the unique design of heat pump systems which are able to extract “free” heat from the outside air, even when the temperatures are below zero. Be aware, efficiency of your unit does drop off at very low temperatures, say -10°C. If heating at very low temperatures is important to you, ask for ‘H2’ performance figures to use as a comparison, ie performance at 2°C outdoor conditions.
Most people are familiar with the energy rating labels supplied on refrigerators. Similarly, heat pumps in showrooms are required to display energy efficiency information so you can compare performance between models. Top performers may also qualify under the ENERGY STAR® programme. Only the best performing models qualify to show the ENERGY STAR® label; refer www.energywise.govt.nz for more information.
Once installed, here are a few tips on smart usage for your system. Use the room temperature thermostat start/stop timer to ensure your classroom remains at a steady temperature when you need it. With an easy set-up, most heat pumps will turn themselves off while you’re out and heat up 15-30 minutes before you enter in the morning. No energy wasted on an empty room. Another hint – closing doors, windows and curtains will keep heat in and save on energy. It may take a bit of training the pupils, but it’ll show on those electricity bills.
Heat pumps not only heat in the winter, they cool in the summer. If running costs are a big concern you can always restrict usage to the colder months of the year when opening a few windows is not a sensible option.
Finally, just like you’d do for your car; treat your heat pump well with regular servicing and maintenance. Servicing info is given as part of the manufacturer’s instructions. Your installer will be the first port of call for this kind of attention, so getting in with a good installer from the beginning is the way to go.
All heat pumps come with a warranty which is usually five years. Some heat pumps even have a 6 year warranty for added peace of mind.
Like most purchases, it pays to get more than one quote. Shop around for the best deals. This will give you a feel for the professionalism of the Installers your dealing with. Beware winter is the peak time for installing heat pumps, so if you want to avoid waiting it pays to get your unit installed before it get’s really cold.