Air conditioner vs Electric heater

Did you know than an air conditioner is at least 3 times more efficient as an electric heater?

To get a bit technical with this, A normal bar heater draws 2 kW of power for 2 kW of heat. A reverse cycle air conditioner which has a cooling and heating function, requires only 0.6 kW of electrical power for 2 kW of heat! This means that an air condition beats old fashioned heating methods hands down!

How does a reverse cycle air conditioner work?

A reverse cycle takes free heat from the air around us and a fan forces air across an evaporator that contains a very cold liquid refrigerant. The heat in the air warms the refrigerant and changes it to a gas. This gas is circulated by a compressor and the increasing pressure causes the temperature of the gas to rise further. The high temperature gas then goes to a condenser where the heat is transferred to the air. The refrigerant cools to a liquid and the cycle starts again.

So, you may want to reconsider your heating methods in your home or office this winter. You could save a whole lot of money by simply using your air conditioner over a normal old heater!

Benefits in using an air conditioner

There are more benefits to be got from the air conditioner:

  1. The air is distributed evenly throughout the room. Many air conditioner brands now have 3D air distribution that circulates the air to the corners. In the case of electric heaters it is hot near the heater and cold in the rest of the room.
  2. Thermostatically controlled so no electricity is wasted by overheating.
  3. In summer the air conditioner is used for cooling whereas the electric heater sits dormant in storage.
  4. Electric heaters have safety issues. A 2 kW electric heater can overload electric circuits especially in older houses. Overloaded circuits can cause fires. In addition the high radiant heat close to the heater can cause clothing to catch fire.

Want to find out more about air conditioner heating solutions? Feel free to contact us on 033 345 3135 or email us at We look forward to hearing from you!

Are you sure you are Insured?

Property insurance has become tradition in South Africa, a vast majority of South African citizens discern some tranquillity from the thought of being covered should anything happen to their property or assets. Customary property installations such as Air Conditioning and Refrigeration units are seldom considered when insuring property. However, years of faithful Insurance instalments can prove despondent without a valid Certificate of Conformity.

What is a Certificate of Conformity?

A Certificate of Conformity (COC) for Gas installations is a legal document which must be obtained whenever a gas system or appliance is installed, modified or repaired and should be retained for probable future requirement.

According to the Pressure Equipment Regulations (PER), refrigerators and air conditioning units that use refrigerant gas should meet the specified standards to ensure safety.

These regulations set out the requirements regarding the design, manufacture, operation, repair, modification, maintenance, inspection and testing of pressure equipment. When a COC is issued for an installation, this proves that the installation is safe and compliant with the regulations set.  In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, the PER also requires persons handling the installation of any gas systems to undergo specific training and to be registered with the South African Qualification and Certification Committee – Gas (SAQCC Gas). Only a Registered Gas Practitioner can issue a COC for any air conditioning or refrigeration units installed.

COC and Insurance Pay-outs

Commonly, people are oblivious to the significance of having a valid COC for all air conditioners or/and refrigeration units on their property, insurance companies often omit this kind of information when sealing an agreement. It is an overwhelming fact that you could be faithfully paying insurance instalments yet end up receiving no aid due to the absence of a valid COC. This truth should incite owners to use registered gas installers and demand a COC upon conclusion.

The majority of insurance companies would require this certificate to prove that the installation was safe and had been serviced regularly.” Lanice Steward- managing director of Knight Frank Anne Porter

Should there be no valid Certificate of Conformity, many insurance companies will not accept liability for costs of damage caused to property or assets. The loss and damage suffered by an owner/user due to an air conditioner or refrigerant unit installation for which a valid COC has not been issued, falls entirely on the owner. Regardless of cost of reparation, the insurance will most likely not cover it.

Energy efficient air-conditioners in South Africa

Air conditioners can be one of the major consumers of energy in households, and consumers should carefully consider their choice of air-conditioner before making a decision to purchase because of the significant life time costs of operating an air-conditioner. It currently projected that in the long-term shifting to more energy efficient air-conditioners in South Africa will collectively save 400,000 MW of electricity annually.

To protect consumers from purchasing inefficient air-conditioners Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) have been set for air conditioners. Currently, only air conditioners with an Energy Efficiency Rating of Class B or better can be sold.

Since there is still a large range in the relative efficiency of air conditioners, it is good idea to carefully consider the energy consumption of an air conditioner prior to purchase. The South African Energy Efficiency Label that will be shown on an air conditioner in the showroom or online provides key information on the energy efficiency rating of the air conditioner and its projected annual energy consumption (details on how to read the label are discussed below).

One of the key decisions a consumer needs to make when purchasing an air conditioner is between an inverter air conditioner and a non-inverter air conditioner. The motor of the compressor in an inverter air conditioner has variable speed, while the motor of the compressor in a non-inverter air conditioner has a fixed speed. This difference means that a censor in the inverter air conditioner can adjust the speed of the motor depending on the room temperature, while a non-inverter air conditioner can only operate at one speed. In addition to being more energy efficient, inverter air conditioners keep the temperature of the room much more consistent by making fine adjustments compared to a non-inverter air conditioner which constantly has to turn the motor of the compressor on and off, leading to large temperature fluctuations.

Understanding the energy efficiency label

Air conditioners being sold must be labelled with a South African Energy Efficiency Label to help consumers understand the relative energy efficiency of different air conditioners. The image below shows a sample of a label for an air conditioner with an explanation of the key elements of the label.

Calculating how much the appliance will cost to run

The kWh figure for annual energy consumption that is shown on the label is designed to assist you to calculate how much it may cost to run the air conditioner on an annual basis. However, it should be noted that most consumers use air conditioners very differently and as a result the actual use is likely to vary considerably. The figure on the label assumes using the air conditioner at maximum power for 500 hours in a year (i.e. an average of 82 minutes a day). If you anticipate using the air conditioner more frequently than that, the cost of running the air conditioner will increase accordingly.

To calculate the annual running costs of an air conditioner, multiply the kWh figure for annual consumption by the cost of electricity in your municipality. You can find the kWh cost of electricity in your municipality by looking at your electricity bill. For example, if the label indicates that the air conditioner will use 1500 kWh per year and where you live a kWh of electricity costs R2 (including VAT), the cost of running the air conditioner will be R3000 for the year.

Appliance Energy Calculation Tools were created to aid consumers to make more informed decisions by calculating the long term cost for running an appliance. Click here to calculate the running costs and CO2 emissions for air conditioners.