Today, there is an air conditioner in almost every home, running at full capacity during the summer. But what about the winter?
Can air conditioners heat a room in the winter? Modern ACs, as part of your HVAC system, can regulate the temperature of your room the way you want. This means you can use them in both the winter and summer months. Modern air conditioners can reverse their direction of airflow to give you both cool and warm air, which is why they can function efficiently during winters, helping to keep your room warm during the cold. Old air conditioners cannot heat your room in the winter, as their air flows in only one direction.
Air conditioners are designed to regulate and maintain the temperature inside a room/house according to your liking, irrespective of the outdoor temperature. As we all know, it can be extremely cold during the winter months. Both indoors and outdoors would be cold and many people look for better ways to keep themselves warm during the winter.
Many people opt for heaters, but these can be pricey and ramp up the electricity bill. This is why many people are asking if they can use an air conditioner to heat their homes during the winter months.
Interestingly, you can do this with modern air conditioners. Old air conditioners cannot heat the room in winter because of their design. They are only designed to send hot air outside of the house while keeping the temperatures indoors cool. They don’t have reversible heat pumps like most air conditioners nowadays do.
What some people do with those old models is to turn them around. They flip the cooling part out while the hot part will face indoors. However, you can only do this with window units, and this might ramp up your electricity bills.
Fortunately, you can get dual functions from modern air conditioners. They can keep your room cool during the summer and warm during the winter. This means you can use them all year round, as they are designed to function that way.
This is why they’re called an HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).
The air conditioner is only ONE part of the entire system.
Can I Run My Air Conditioner in the Winter?
Yes, you can definitely run your air conditioner in the winter. Although, you’re technically running it as your overall HVAC system.
As we said earlier, many modern air conditioners have a reverse function, which is why you can use them at any time of the year. Interestingly, old models and those that lack the reversible function can still be useful during the winter.
If your house is stuffed or suffocating because of dry heated air, you can turn on your AC and switch it to fan mode. This would make your house much comfortable and inhabitable. It might not provide you with all the warmth you want, but it would help with adequate air circulation, making your room less stuffy.
Nevertheless, you should have in mind that the efficiency of your air conditioner during the winter and summer will not be the same. Air conditioners perform differently during winters and summertime.
The reason is that even though these appliances can function during winter, they are designed for use when the temperature inside is lower than the temperature outside.
Reasons Why You Should Use Your Air Conditioner in Winter
Here are a couple of reasons why you should use an air conditioner in the winter season:
One of the major benefits of using AC during the winter season is that it helps to tackle humidity. During the winter season, the doors and windows attract a lot of humidity, which is not good for one’s health and wellbeing, not to mention that it can run down your home’s overall structural support.
Fortunately, air conditioners help to dehumidify the air inside the room and help to keep the doors and windows clear.
And if that isn’t enough, you can always get a dehumidifier as well.
With an AC that is designed to work in two ways, you will enjoy a considerable level of warmth during the winter. These units can produce a sustainable amount of heat to keep you warm regardless of how cold the outdoors might be. Hence, while they keep you cool during the summer, they can also keep you warm during the winter season.
Save a Lot of Space
Many people usually opt for heating equipment during the winter to keep their homes warm and cozy. While these pieces of equipment are very useful, they can occupy space. With an air conditioner and an HVAC system that’s hidden from view, which you already use during the summer anyway, you can save a lot of space that a piece of heating equipment would take.
Safety for Children
Another major benefit of using an AC during the winter is that they are safe for children. Safety is very important in every home, especially when there are kids around. The majority of air conditioners are installed at a height, usually too high for children to reach. Nevertheless, that is not the case with many heating equipment. With other heating equipment such as oil heaters, you need to be very careful of children touching it.
Tips for Using Your AC during the Winter Season
As we said earlier, air conditioners can work during the winter, but that does not mean they are designed to work in such weather conditions. If you want your AC unit to serve you well during the winter and for a long time, then you need to take care of it and operate it the right way. Here are a couple of tips for using your air conditioner during the winter season:
Inspect and Change the Air Filter
The air filter is one of the most important components in an AC unit, and you need to maintain it properly if you want the unit to serve you for a long time. During the summer season, you might not have a hard time remembering to inspect and change the air filter of the AC regularly for healthy and adequate airflow.
Nevertheless, during the winter season, it is easy for you to forget this task when you use the AC occasionally. However, the air filter and its quality play a key role in the performance of your AC unit as well as the comfort of your house when the weather becomes chilly. If you are using your AC unit regularly during the winter, you should change the air filter every one to two months.
If you only use the AC unit occasionally, you can make the changing of your air filter every three to four months. You can consult your AC specialist if you are not sure how frequently you should change the air filter of your AC unit.
Recommended reading: How Often Should You Change the Air Filter In Your House?
Limit the Use of Your AC Unit
Air conditioners are initially designed to keep the home cool during hot days. Fortunately, the most recent models allow you to switch things up a bit and use the same unit to keep your home warm during cold days.
Nevertheless, this does not mean these units are designed like heaters. Heaters do an impressive job of keeping the house warm during the winter. They provide great warmth, which would help to keep you and your family warm during winter.
Hence, since air conditioners are not designed like heaters, even though they can do the work of a heater sometimes, you should not overwork them. You should not allow your AC to run like a heater for a very long time during cold days. It should not run for the entire day. You should only use the heating function when it is extremely cold.
Change Your Thermostat Settings
If you want to save energy and enjoy consistent comfort in your home, then you need a programmable thermostat. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that you need to change the program of your thermostat during the winter season to reduce the cooling and increase the heating function.
It is also recommended you change it to manual so you can adjust the temperature of your home periodically depending on the weather condition.
How Can I Save Money with My Air Conditioner During the Winter?
It is easy for your electricity bill to ramp up significantly during the winter, as you would want to use a heater or the heating feature of your AC. However, no one loves the additional bills, even though we want to remain warm during the cold. Here are some tips that you can use to save money during the winter:
Open Your Window Curtains
It has been a tradition to keep the curtains drawn for most parts of the year to reduce costs. During the winter, the reverse might be the case. To save money during the winter with your AC, you would have to open up your beautiful curtains and let all the wonderful sun in.
During the cold seasons, the sun would come in handy, as it would help to warm your home without increasing your electricity bills. You will be surprised how this can help to change the temperature in your home.
However, you might want to do the opposite at night. At night, you should close the curtains to trap heat inside the house and prevent it from escaping. You should also consider other furnishings such as carpets and rugs, as they do a great job of trapping heat.
Seal Every Leak
You have to carry out a thorough inspection of your doors and windows. If there are leakages on your doors or windows, you will feel a lot of cold air coming in. This is not good, as it would ramp up your electricity bill. Your heater or AC would have to overwork in order to keep your house warm and cozy, which will not be healthy for your electricity bills.
To avoid this, you should improve the insulation of your home. You should seal them properly or insulate them by applying weather-stripping. This would reduce the way cold air enters your home and keep your home warmer. It would reduce the way your AC would work, which would help reduce your electricity bill.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Using a programmable thermostat will also help to reduce your electricity bills during the winter season. You can program the thermostat to adjust the temperature when everyone is asleep or not at home. There is no need to heat the house when you or your family is not around. Hence, you should learn to regulate the function of the AC unit when not in use, and you can do that with a programmable thermostat.
How Can I Protect My AC When Not In Use During Winter?
If you have a heater to keep your house warm or you just don’t want to use your AC during the winter, you still need to maintain and keep it well for the winter season. Here are some tips to make sure your AC is sound and functional when you get into the hot months in summer:
- To protect the outdoor unit, which is called the condenser in split air conditioners, you can put a cover on top of it. This will protect it from rain if not in use. If the unit is on the ground, you also want to make sure that there are no grasses or plants around it. The surrounding of the outdoor unit should be clear.
- Another thing you should do is to clean the air filter of the air conditioner. If you want to stop using it during the winter completely, you should first run it in the dry mode for a couple of hours.
- Clean the outside unit with brush and water as dust and debris stick to it frequently.
- You should also remove the batteries from the remote and turn off the major power switch.
Precautions When Running an Air Conditioner in Winter
If you must use your AC during the winter season, you need to take care of it properly. Here are a few tips to help you use your AC unit more efficiently during the winter season:
- The temperature of the standard air conditioner should be around 18 to 22 degrees Celsius when using it under heat mode. This would help to ensure maximum energy efficiency from your AC.
- You should keep the fan of the air conditioner around medium to low. Do not keep it at High, as this might overwork the unit.
- Make sure the Vane of the air conditioner is not facing anybody directly, as the air can be somewhat hot and can cause body itching, choking, and dryness.
Will Running My Air Conditioner in the Winter Damage It?
If your air conditioner is not designed for use during cold weather, it might reduce its lifespan by using it in cold weather. The outdoor unit of many ACs works best in the summertime. Here are a few ways in which running your air conditioner in the winter can damage or reduce its lifespan.
- The compressor in most air conditioners uses heavier-grade lubrication oil. These units are able to function perfectly during the summertime because of this heavy-grade oil. However, this oil tends to thicken very fast during the winter seasons. When this happens, the air conditioner will not be able to function flawlessly as it does during the summertime, and this can lead to damage or reduced lifespan.
- Secondly, your AC unit might have a low environment or atmosphere sensor. This unit helps to prevent the unit from turning on when the weather is extremely cold to avoid any damage if your unit is not designed to function in such weather conditions. If you disregard this and turn the unit on, you can make your AC unit incompetent.
- The compressor of the AC might overheat in this period. The lower the external temperature, the more work the compressor has to do. If you use an AC that is not designed for the extremely cold weather, you could damage it beyond repair. The damage might not be reversible.
Air conditioners have become an integral part of our lives. They have proven to be very useful over the years, as they help to keep us cool and comfortable during the summertime.
Our generation can hardly go through the summertime without one of those.
Fortunately, some ACs also come in handy during the cold weather. Some modern ACs can serve as heaters during the winter. Nevertheless, if your AC is not designed for the cold weather, there are many downsides to using it, as you could damage it.
You can use the AC unit as a heater, but this can reduce the lifespan of the AC or damage it completely. Hence, before you use your air conditioner during the cold weather, you want to make sure you have all the right information on how to do it.