Articles about Heating and Cooling in the Algarve

Assessing Your Energy Saving Solutions

When considering energy-saving solutions – a solar hot water system, a photovoltaic (PV) system, a heat pump - you should aim for a return-on-investment of 5-7 years. It's wise to invest in a good brand – quality is key because you are looking for a 25-year lifespan.

For example: you want to replace your gas water heating with a thermal solar system. Let's assume your gas bills are around €50-€70 per month, €600-€840 annually, therefore €3000-€4200 over 5-7 years. A quality 2-panel solar system can be installed for around this sum, providing free hot water for many years after the investment has been recovered.

Read more: Assessing Your Energy Saving Solutions

Algarve Cool Schools

cool_school_air_conditioning_algarve.gifIt's much easier to learn in a comfortable environment. Now, thanks to the generosity of local benefactors, two schools in the Almancil area can offer improved facilities for their pupils, in the shape of modern air conditioning systems.

The two schools couldn't be more different. Asas para Amanhis a national charity project offering education and activity programmes for underprivileged children. In Almancil, next to the GNR police station, it offers PC/internet-based learning facilities, but its small glass-fronted classroom had been suffering extremes of temperature from the summer heat to the winter cold. Now, thanks to a local benefactor and under the auspices of the ACCA charity, the classroom has a brand new air conditioning system, installed by Penguin Air Conditioning.

Read more: Algarve Cool Schools

Air Conditioning Sizing Chart Guide

Use this guide to give you an approximate air conditioning unit size in British Thermal Units (BTUs).

New or Well Insulated Villa:

Room Size Ceiling Height Factor Kw
BTU Value

Aircon Unit

4x3m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 28.8m³ x 55watts per m³ = 1.6 Kw 5000 7000BTU
4x4m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 38.4m³ x 55watts per m³ = 2.1 Kw 7168 9000BTU
4x5m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 48.0m³ x 55watts per m³ = 2.6 Kw 8875 9000BTU
5x5m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 60.0m³ x 55watts per m³ = 3.3 Kw 11265 12000BTU
6x5m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 72.0m³ x 55watts per m³ = 4.0 Kw 13652 12000BTU
6x6m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 86.4m³ x 55watts per m³ = 4.7 Kw 16041 18000BTU
6x7m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 100.8m³ x 55watts per m³ = 5.5 Kw 18772 18000BTU
7x7m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 117.6m³ x 55watts per m³ = 6.5 Kw 22185 21000BTU
7x8m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 134.4m³ x 55watts per m³ = 7.4 Kw 25256 24000BTU
8x8m Room 2.4m Ceiling = 153.6m³ x 55watts per m³ = 8.4 Kw 28670

Read more: Air Conditioning Sizing Chart Guide

The No-Bills Algarve Villa

energy-house_zero_bills_algarve.jpgThis project demonstrates what the latest energy-efficient technology can achieve - a house with ZERO energy bills!

Read more: The No-Bills Algarve Villa

Heating and Cooling the Algarve Way!

Many people assume that home cooling is more important than heating in the Algarve. Whilst air conditioning is often a necessity for many Algarve homes in summer, in fact the contrary can also be argued, i.e. a home will always need heating in winter, no matter how well-insulated it is. Indeed, with some innovatory modern homes, cooling is not always essential. The 'Coolhouse' at Alma Verde near Lagos is an example of clever construction where cooling is provided by a passive ground system and heating by an efficient gas boiler.


Read more: Heating and Cooling the Algarve Way!

Certificates and Licences

One of the advantages about using a company like ours is that we are fully certified and insured - which makes us accountable for our actions.

We have a policy of honesty both in our realistic quotes (we have to make a profit to survive!) and our dealings with builders and sub-contractors - a "recommendation" in Portugal from a seemingly trusted source quite often comes with a "hidden" cost for you - the customer - and we are one of the few companies that make it known that this is a practice which we emphatically do not endorse.


Certificate Authority Reference Information
ALVARA  logo 01 68022 This is one of the main licences needed for any type of commercial building work. It is a true indication of legitimacy as it is not easy to get due to its criteria of professional qualified staff and engineers.
Gas Flouradas  Certif Reg303 DL56 SAC-353/2015 Every company that handles refrigerant is legally obliged to have this certificate - again it is not easy to get but it ensures your safety and the environment, and it enforces strict guidelines and policies when handling potentially harmful products.
Workers Insurance  lusitania algarve penguin



We only employ permanent staff and each member is insured for work accidents which protects you and us.
Indemnity Insurance  lusitania algarve penguin 0016549 If we are working on your property and damage occurs then we are, of course, insured against this.


Qualified Staff

 adene penguin algarve   Our senior staff as a pre-requisite have have to be qualified to at least certified Technition TIM II 
Qualified Electricians on staff  dgeg penguin algarve   Another of our policies is to always have at least one qualified electrician as a permanent staff member
Annual Staff Health Checks  previa algarve penguin   As part of our employee responsibilites we are required by law to arrange, at our expense, an annual health check for each staff member.



Integrated Solar Heating System

Solar systems are commonly used to provide domestic hot water, while larger arrays of panels are used to heat pools. In some situations, solar systems can also be used for underfloor heating. For this project we were required to devise and install a system which integrates all three applications.

Read more: Integrated Solar Heating System

Wet UFH for Renovations

Providing wet systems for renovations can prove to be prohibitively costly as the floor needs to be excavated to a minimum depth to fit all the pipes and insulation. The typical install would require the floor to be excavated to a certain depth and then an initial screed put down, placed on this is a barrier layer then the insulation which takes the PEX tubing. Once this is done then a further screed is laid down and the final tiles laid. All this requires at least the following combined depth:

Depth of Underfloor Heating

  1. 75mm sand and cement screed
  2. 0.2 Barrier protection layer
  3. 50mm Polystyrene Insulation layer which contains the PEX tubing
  4. 75mm top layer screed






Read more: Wet UFH for Renovations

How much is it costing to run my air conditioning system?

The build quality and type of thermal insulation varies so greatly in the Algarve that sometimes this is difficult to easily quantify.

A very simple and more accurate way of finding out how much your air conditioning is costing is to turn off all your major appliances in the villa and take an initial meter reading. Come back after an hour and take another meter reading and minus this from the initial reading which will indicate your energy consumption in KW per Hour as a base rate. Turn on all your aircon units on maximum and come back after an hour and take a final reading. Use this formula to estimate your maximum aircon consumption:

Read more: How much is it costing to run my air conditioning system?

Saving Energy using LEDS



Save money with energy-efficient lighting


Lighting can account for over 20% of a typical home’s energy bills (depending on appliances), so making your lighting more efficient is an easy way to save money.

Read more: Saving Energy using LEDS

R22 refrigerant no longer available in Portugal

r22_eu_banned_algarve_refrigerant.jpgDo new EC laws mean scrapping your old air conditioners?

As of this year the EU has banned R-22 refrigerant, commonly used in domestic air conditioning systems, as an environmentally-harmful HCFC gas. This has led some to believe that any air-con system using R-22 must also must also be scrapped and replaced.

This is a misconception. The situation is not as severe as some – perhaps less than scrupulously – may have you believe. Nonetheless, the consequences of this EU directive will eventually affect many people who have air conditioning systems at home or at work.

Read more: R22 refrigerant no longer available in Portugal

Air Conditioning Energy Saving Tips

It costs you more money and uses more energy to heat and cool your home than any other system in your home. Typically, 44% to 50% of your utility bills pays for heating and cooling your home.

Regardless of the type of home comfort systems you have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.

Keep in mind that an energy efficient air conditioner alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using an approach that involves the entire house. If you combine proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, weatherisation and thermostat settings, you can reduce your energy bills by up to 50%.

Read more: Air Conditioning Energy Saving Tips

Algarve Electric Underfloor Heating for Renovations

Electric Underfloor Heating for Renovations

Electric Underfloor Matting in the AlgarveOur electric mat is ideal for refurbishment projects where it can be installed onto an existing floor structure - either a concrete sub-floor or a timber sub-floor.

Read more: Algarve Electric Underfloor Heating for Renovations

Algarve Solar Panel Grants in Portugal


The grant for Photovoltaic or PV is now down to 10 cents a KW which means it only pays for systems above 10KW (60 panels) which is simply too many panels for even a large household. Unfortunately battery based systems are still too expensive and unreliable to install. This will change with cheaper lithium based battery packs like the TESLA Powerwall but we do not know when they are available in Europe.

Please be wary of any installers claiming any return on investment below 7 years as this will invariably flout the laws of physics and economics.

Systems are available for self consumption but there is a limit to what is viable - i.e. you would have to use all the power that is generated for it to make economic sense so there is no point installing too much.  The consensus is that up to 3 KW (12 panels) is the maximum limit you should consider but 1.5kw (6 panels) is the more common threshold. These systems still have to be registered with EDP and installed by certified installers with certified equipment.

You can view the plug-in solar info here - Plug in Photovoltaic!



Air Conditioners are efficient heaters too!

Using an inverter type air conditioner is actually more cost effective than under floor heating.

Inverter air conditioning units can have a COP of as much as 5 which is the same as an electric heat exchanger water heater - not surprising really as they use very similar technology.

Read more: Air Conditioners are efficient heaters too!

Heatpumps to Heat and Cool your Villa in the Algarve

Mitsubishi Ecodan Heatpump installed in parallel for a large Villa in Quinta Do Lago - AlgarveAn air to water heatpump is very similar to an external unit of an air conditioner. It is made up of a fan and copper coils circulating refrigerant using a compressor. The heated/cooled refrigerant is used to heat or cool water which is circulated around the underfloor heating or radiator pipework within the villa.

Heatpumps maintain a very high efficiency due to their ability to use the ambient air temperature and concentrate it into heat/cold within the house. Once your build reaches over 200m2 it makes so much commercial sense to use a combination of fancoils and underfloor heating that this becomes the only real option to heat and cool your villa.

When our customers come from cooler climates the average temperature and sunlight hours of the Algarve is often overlooked and they favour technologies such as geothermal heating but it is the high average temperature of the Algarve which makes it absolutely ideal for air-to-water technologies which rely on the ambient air temperature for its efficiencies. The case for geothermal which gives little more efficiency benefit for almost double the capital cost and complexity seems a lot less compelling.

average temperature in Faro

Average temperatures in London

Heatpumps, like air conditioners, come in two main types - Inverters and Non-Inverters. Like air conditioners non-inverters are cheaper to buy but are less efficient (but still more efficient than gas!) as they cannot vary the speed of the compressor which means they are either OFF or ON - they usually require a "buffer" tank to reduce the amount of stop-starts to maintain efficiency. Inverters are more expensive to buy but their variable speed compressor is more efficient and they have far more tolerance with the use of buffer tanks.

Algarve PhotoVoltaic PV Grants NO LONGER VIABLE

As of 2015 most grid based systems are now no longer viable as the payback is around 10 cents per Kilowatt and your consumption rate is currently about 20 cents a Kilowatt. The best option to save energy

Please click on this link to see updated information:


Read more: Algarve PhotoVoltaic PV Grants NO LONGER VIABLE

Average life span of an air conditioner is about 6-7 years

The average life span of an air conditioner is about 6-7 years, but it can be prolonged through proper maintenance by qualified technicians on a regular basis.

Contact Penguin for a low cost maintenence contract NOW!! Don't wait for the summer for your unit to break down....

Air Conditioners - the most efficient way to heat as well as cool!

outdoor_snow_heating_algarve.jpgWith scorching summers and damp winters, the need to cool, heat and combat humidity makes air conditioning virtually a necessity in many Algarve properties. Even for buildings with excellent thermal insulation qualities, requiring lower-capacity systems, there's still a need to cool or heat the ambient air. With this in mind it makes sense to consider the most efficient machines possible.

In fact, today's air conditioning systems are among the most energy-efficient ways to cool and heat your home. In recent years, 'inverter' systems have become commonly available from all brands, offering energy (i.e. electricity) savings of up to 40% compared to non-inverter models.

Read more: Air Conditioners - the most efficient way to heat as well as cool!

Cost Estimates for Electric Underfloor Heating

Wet underfloor heating is by far the most efficient to run - especially when combined with a renewable energy source such as a heat exchanger or solar panels.

If your electric underfloor heating is running at full (which it will until it reaches the desired temperature and then it typically runs at 40%) it will consume about 0.15KW per hour per m2 for your surface area.

For instance to heat about 200m2 would take approximately 30KW at a worst case.

The EDP in the Algarve charge about 0.12 cents per kw and 200m2 on full capacity will cost you around €3.6 per hour. This means your energy bills could top €1000 per month (this does depend on the thermal efficiency of the house, when you put the UFH on etc). your return on investment for the wet UFH can be within 1-2 years.

R22 - refrigerant used by most air conditioners now banned by EU -This Affects YOU!!

R22 is the most common form of refrigerant or hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) used by air conditioning systems.


Due to new EU directives it is now banned for all uses.

R22 will still be around until about 2015, but any new units installed are no longer supplied with this refrigerant - the problem arises when we need to replace refrigerant on your old units as we no longer have access to any form of Freon (R22). i.e. your units running on freon will not be considered illegal.

Read more: R22 - refrigerant used by most air conditioners now banned by EU -This Affects YOU!!

Air to Water Heatpumps in the Algarve

Heat pumps bring outstanding energy savings – but aren't they noisy? Specialists Penguin silence the doubts...

Read more: Air to Water Heatpumps in the Algarve

How to save money on your electricity (EDP) bills in the Algarve

These are my top 20 energy saving tips to reducing your electricity bill in the Algarve. Electricity from the EDP in Portugal is the most expensive form of energy and will represent a signicifant proportion of your overall energy costs.

Read more: How to save money on your electricity (EDP) bills in the Algarve

Algarve Air Conditioning

imageAir conditioning has a positive effect on personal performance, health and indoor equipment.

With air conditioning you can create the level of comfort at which you feel best, with exactly the right temperature and a comfortable humidity.

Modern air conditioners produce clean, healthy fresh air, dehumidify the air and prevent mold. All of this efficiently and without draught or noise.

In short,air conditioning makes you feel better, more active and fit, resulting in many advantages, because he or she who feels better is more creative and productive. 

PENGUIN offers a range of air conditioning systems to suit all needs, whether for your entire home for one or more rooms, or for your business.

The air conditioning units offered by PENGUIN work as "heat pumps" being able to either cool or heat and also to treat the humidity, cleanliness and control the air distribution.

The principle of air conditioning always comes down to absorbing energy in one place and releasing it in another.

The process requires an indoor unit, an outdoor unit and copper piping to connect both. Through the piping the refrigerant flows from one unit to another. It is the refrigerant that absorbs the energy in one unit and releases it in the other. A heat pump is an air conditioner which can be used both for cooling and heating because it is able to reverse the process of transporting heat from one place to another.

REMEMBER ALL QUOTES AND SURVEYS ARE FREE. Click here to request a quotation...

Thermosyphon systems explained

As a company with an energy-saving ethos, we sometimes receive enquiries from DIY enthusiasts seeking to maximise their return-on-investment by making their own solar system.

My initial response is: “Have you costed the working hours you'll need to put into such a project? Plus the cost of materials? Buying a commercially-available system usually works out cheaper – not to mention safer! – as they have mass production standards on their side. Commercial systems are more efficient, more reliable, are guaranteed and, if regularly maintained, will last 15 years or more. Could a home-made system offer the same?” 

Read more: Thermosyphon systems explained

What is the difference between an Inverter and Normal Fixed speed air conditioner?

We've all seen them - the supermarket split type air conditioners - at what seems like an incredible price.

But the old adage still remains true - "You get what you pay for".

A good analogy for this is the cheap computer printer. It seems like such great value until you come to replace the ink cartridge - which often costs more than the printer itself!

Read more: What is the difference between an Inverter and Normal Fixed speed air conditioner?