One of the reasons we live in houses is to protect us from the elements. If it’s cold outside, we like it to be nice and cosy inside. Likewise, when it’s scorching hot outside, it’s nice to be able to come home to a cool house – and we need fresh air, regardless of the temperature.
The term ‘climate control’ is used to refer to the way that we control the climate inside our homes. Those in the know commonly refer to it as ‘HVAC’ – which stands for ‘heating, ventilation and cooling’. These are the three main aspects of climate control.
Basic heating and cooling technologies
The most common ways to heat and cool a home are using heaters and either fans or air conditioners. There are many different options available for both heating and cooling purposes, as well as a number of choices in terms of the fuels you use. The technologies and the fuels you choose to use in your home will have a big impact on:
- The initial cost
- Ongoing fuel and maintenance costs
- The 'feel' of your heating or cooling
- Your carbon footprint
Many people don’t give a great deal of thought to the systems they install, which causes problems further down the track. Poorly planned climate control can be a very expensive mistake, so it’s well worth spending some time to get it right.
Insulation, materials and passive design
While heaters and cooling systems obviously play a big role in climate control, it’s equally as important to think about how well the building is able to separate the climate inside your home from the climate outside. This has a massive effect on how much air conditioning or heating is needed, which in turn will make a big difference to how much money everything costs.
One way to keep heat in (or out) is using insulation. Thick layers of insulation materials in walls and ceilings do a great deal to help prevent heat from entering or leaving your home. The materials you use to build your home also affect this. Bricks and concrete, for example, absorb a lot of heat. This might be excellent during winter months, but might also make cooling your home harder in the middle of summer. Likewise, good glazing or window film can make a huge difference to your home’s overall insulation.
Another increasingly popular approach to heating and cooling is to use what’s known as ‘passive design’. Put simply, this involves cleverly designing your home using natural principles so that the temperature inside’s almost always comfortable, which in turn reduces the need for expensive artificial cooling or heating technologies.
Air quality and ventilation
The last thing you need to consider – and the reason that ventilation is included as a part of climate control – is air quality. Designing your home so that it’s air tight and well insulated is one thing, but if you don’t have a constant supply of fresh air to your home you can easily get very sick.
This is mostly what ‘good’ climate control boils down to – striking the right balances, and choosing effective and efficient ways to heat, cool and ventilate your home.