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Hong Kong - Heating and Air-Conditioning

In a location such as Hong Kong where humidity can be 100% and the temperatures in the summer can soar to 95F, having air conditioning is very important. However, having heating is also important since temperatures can drop dramatically in the winter months. Many expats find that the difference between the outside heat and the interior coldness of the buildings which have their air conditioners on “high” takes some time to adapt to. Some even find the need to wear sweaters or jackets indoors, even in the summertime, due to the chilly air which can be a contrast to the sweltering heat outside. Government figures show that air conditioners account for about 60% of Hong Kong’s electricity usage in the hot, humid, sub-tropical summers.

The government recommends that buildings set their indoor temperatures to 77.9F. However, no legislation forces this compliance as it is merely a suggestion. You may set your own temperatures inside your own apartment or house on the temperature that is comfortable to you.

Most houses and apartments in Hong Kong do not have heaters installed. Instead, you must rely on a unit that is either portable or other heating device. A hot air fan is one option and is mobile so you can transport it from room to room. Extension cords might be necessary since most bathrooms only have sockets for a shaving apparatus. Portable heaters can be more convenient and economical since it only gets cold in Hong Kong for a short period of time each year. For the rest of the year, it is warm and humid and an air conditioner is more necessary.

There are several different kinds of air condition units that are found in Hong Kong buildings. Air conditioners can be split types, window units, or central units. A split air conditioner also has a dehumidifier in it. When it is set to the "dry" mode it works the same as a dehumidifier. In the “cool” mode it cools off the room. In "cool" mode, the air conditioner cools and dries the air since is a natural side-effect of the cooling process. When the air passes over the coil, it is cooled. This can decreases the moisture retention capability of the air and extra moisture will condense out and drip out of the unit through the water exhaust. Some people prefer these to having a standalone dehumidifier since it create some heat inside the room, while a split system air conditioner won’t since the motor is outside the unit. A reverse unit will not only cool off the room, but also heat it in the winter months when it’s colder.

The reverse air conditioning unit is one of the most popular styles amongst expats, but it can also be the most expensive since it has a function other than heating. The second most popular style is the split unit. Due to the humidity in Hong Kong, taking the dampness out of the air is essential since it can lead to mold and mildew and damage clothing and furniture.

Portable air conditioners can be found as well but these tend to be heavy and not as mobile as they would appear. Although these are available, most people in Hong Kong use the window units and have them professionally installed.

Because air conditioners get used so much in Hong Kong, expats will find that there are quite a few companies that offer repair and cleaning services. These providers do everything from adding Free-on to actually taking the unit away and cleaning them.

Most shops will have contractors that they work with who can come out to your home, survey it, and give you an estimated cost for your air conditioning unit. Price will not only depend on the model that you purchase, but whether or not scaffolding is used, if you want to hide the pipes, etc.

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