Air conditioning in Auckland - 19/12/2018
Auckland: Home to beautiful beaches, a third of New Zealand’s population, never ending traffic queues - and some of the warmest temperatures in the country.
Many Aucklanders choose to keep cool by heading outdoors, turning on nighttime fans or sleeping with open windows. But there is also a case for using air conditioning in the northern metropolis - if you’re a resident, or have visited, you’ll know all about the humid summers!
Read on to learn more about Auckland’s climate and why air conditioning could be an option to make your Auckland home more comfortable this summer! We also have some tips for other fun ways you can stay cool this summer.
New Zealand Climate
New Zealand is known for its largely temperate climate. However, Aotearoa is actually made up of diverse climate conditions; from the cool, snowy south, to the muggy, subtropical north. According to Taihoro Nukurangi, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), our climate is actually very complex.
This is largely due to the mountain ranges which run the length of our country forming a natural barrier from weather systems, and resulting in a wet West Coast and dry East Coast, says NIWA.
While on average sunshine hours are about 2,000 in most regions, NIWA divides the country into 12 distinct climate regions: Scott Base, Chatham Islands, Southern New Zealand, Mount Cook, Inland South Island, Eastern South Island, Western South Island, Northern South Island, Eastern North Island, South-West North Island, Central North Island, and Northern New Zealand.
It is here, in Northern New Zealand where things get interesting.
Described as a subtropical climate zone, Northern New Zealand is warm and humid. It is also home to Auckland, our country’s largest city with about a third of the total population living there.
And it is here where from December to February/March, temperatures reach 25 degrees celsius and humidity can exceed 75 percent.
How Air Conditioning Works
Air conditioning is the process which removes heat and moisture from air. This is controlled by an air conditioning unit which often also uses a fan to move the conditioned air around a space.
The air conditioner works to absorb warm air from inside your home and cools it down using a chemical called refrigerant, which changes from liquid to gas with ease.
Refrigerant is used in a piping system powered by the fan in your unit. The system goes from inside your home where the warmth is absorbed and the refrigerant becomes liquid, and loops back outside to where the heat energy is released and the refrigerant returns to a gas state. The cycle then repeats, leaving your home’s interior cool as it expels the heat energy outdoors.
Air Conditioning vs. Heat Pumps
Heat pumps can simply be turned on a reverse cycle - doing the same job as an air conditioning unit and keeping your house (or tenant’s house) comfortable from that famously sticky Auckland humidity. So, for an area like Auckland that also gets its fair share of cooler temperatures, a heat pump could be the way to go.
Air Conditioning vs. Portable Fans
“But what about fans?” We hear you ask. Yes, we know these are popular options when the mercury starts rising and the NZ Herald’s summer headlines tell us Auckland’s shops are selling out of the cooling appliances (and ice creams and sunblock).
But the difference is actually quite important: heat pumps and air conditioning take that thick warm air and turn it into cold; whereas fans just move the warm air around. The changing speed of the air makes people feel cooler, but usually only work to lower the temperature by about 3C.
Tips for Keeping Your Home Cool in Summer
While having an air conditioning unit, or a heat pump and using cooling mode is a great start, there are a few tricks that will help you when cooling your home with an air conditioner or heat pump.
When you begin using the air conditioning mode, try to discern the optimal temperature and fan setting for keeping your home comfortable. While it’s easy to set the temperature as cold as possible and pump up the fan on the highest setting, to maximise the efficiency of your system, find a balance that means you’ll stay cool without the unit working too hard.
Additionally, don’t forget to use the settings on your heat pump or air conditioner to have your unit work best for you. Set the timer function to have the air conditioning switch on when it’s needed and switched off when it’s not. After all, there’s no reason to cool an empty home. And while you are home, make the most of the cool environment by avoiding any heat energy from re-entering. This can be as simple as shutting off unoccupied areas of the house, or closing windows to create a cool, sealed off environment.