Apparently some Europeans think that air conditioning uses more energy than heating. Well I suppose it depends on what is meant by that. If they meant that so many more people use air conditioning than the number of people who use home heating (and whether that’s true or not I have no idea, and I absolutely don’t care) then they could be right due to overwhelming numbers, but in terms of average Southern home cooling verses average Northern home heating, no way.
The typical AC scenario involves maintaining a far smaller temperature difference than the typical heating scenario.
It’s below freezing much of the time here in North Idaho, for example, from November through February, and it is often well below freezing. Freezing can and often does occur from September into May. Occasionally it is below zero F and sometimes it gets to thirty below.
From freezing outside to 72F in your home is a difference of 40 degrees F. Most people tend to be OK with 80 degrees inside while using AC. How hot does it ever get in any vaguely typical city, ever? To reach that very typical 40 degree differential for home heating would mean that it would have to be 120F outside and 80 inside while cooling. That is not what I would call common.
When the temp is zero F outside, which happens for up to weeks at a time in much of the U.S. in winter, that’s a 72 degree difference. To ever even see a 72 degree difference in AC usage, it’d have to be 152F outside. To equal the difference from a not-at-all rare 30 degrees below zero, it would have to be 180 degrees outside and 80 inside for our AC scenario. In some parts of the U.S. it gets a lot colder than 30 below, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get to 180 anywhere, without the aid of a volcano or a fire.
Not bloody likely then, is it, that it should require more energy to cool than to heat? Energy-wise, it’s mainly about the temperature difference that is being maintained, so if someone is yapping about the subject and they’re not mentioning temperature differentials, they’re either blind or dishonest, or both.
It just occured to me; in the north we are careful to insulate our ceilings well, and tend to put our HVAC outlets in the floor, whereas in a hot climate it would make more sense to extra-insulate the floor and put the outlet vents in the ceiling.