Air conditioning manufacturers respond to housing affordability crisis

The air conditioning industry is not immune to Australia's housing affordability crisis.

It is a problem that has reached all areas of Australian life from government policy to business investment decisions, right through to everyday life choices.

The average house price in Sydney is above the magic million dollar mark which explains why the Australian home of 2016 is very different to what it was a decade ago.

Housing has diversified considerably with a much bigger mix of smaller dwellings such as high rise apartments and townhouses. It’s all about medium density developments with even large homes out in the suburbs being built on much smaller blocks.

Evidence of these changes have been reinforced by the latest census figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which found the number of people living in each dwelling has increased.

In fact the number of households with six or more people has increased by 20 per cent since 2011.

Housing Industry Association’s principal economist Tim Reardon said there has been a significant increase in the share of the population that is living in a rental property (10 per cent) with a corresponding decline in the number of people that own their own house outright or have a mortgage.

At the same time, rental costs have increased by 24 per cent in Sydney and 17 per cent in Melbourne since the last Census was undertaken five years ago.

“These figures show that the housing market in these cities continue to be under supplied and inaccessible to new entrants,” he said.

Homeowners are also moving away from single dwellings and making the switch to apartment living. The number of people living in medium and high density housing has increased 32 per cent since 2011.

Reardon said this is a consequence of the high cost of land. Obviously all of these trends are influencing air conditioning manufacturers as they adapt to the housing affordability squeeze and try to meet these changing needs.

An early adapter and market leader, Daikin Australia, has been focusing on new design features to accommodate these trends.

Daikin Australia’s national product manager, Raj Singh, said the design features of the VRV IV S range directly corresponds with these trends.

“Due to the high cost of land, block sizes have been reducing whilst the actual size of the home remains large. This has resulted in a space of less than one metre width on the side of these homes to install the condenser,” he said.

"Daikin’s VRV IV S, designed in a trunk style casing with a depth of 320mm enables it to be comfortably located in these tight spaces whilst delivering capacities from 9kW right up to 24kW.

“Additionally, these systems can also connect up to 14 indoor units in a range of styles to suit the home design requirements.”

For apartments and inner city living Daikin’s Compact Series bulkhead indoor units have a depth of 450mm and height of 200mm making them ideal for drop ceilings and wardrobes.

“The compact size of the indoor units means they can be discreetly installed above a standard wardrobe whilst delivering air-conditioned comfort to the home owner,” he said.

Singh said the housing affordability issue goes beyond the price of a house as there are a host of other factors that need to be taken into account including rising energy costs, home maintenance and noise pollution.

“As a result of the smaller block sizes, homes are being built very close to each other, so noise is a major consideration. The VRV IV S can be set to operate in a night quiet mode that can reduce the condenser noise levels right down to 43dBA* and minimise the impact to your neighbours," he said.

“Lastly, these systems are also designed to deliver superior energy performance and hence lower the operating costs for home owners.”

*Applies to 11.2kW model, noise levels for other models may vary