On a hot day there’s nothing like retreating inside to the cool oasis of an air conditioned home. But with long hot Australian summers, you may find you need your air conditioner running all day long for several days in a row – and that all adds up on your electricity bill. Here’s some simple ways you can enjoy a comfortable climate without the shock of a massive power bill.
1. Moderate your temperature
Your air conditioner will be working hardest on the hottest days – that’s a simple fact. You can reduce the amount of energy your air conditioner uses by setting your thermostat at a comfortable, but not icy, temperature. In Australia, a recommended moderate temperature is between 24 and 27 degrees celsius. Every degree below these levels can increase your running costs by around 10%.
2. Contain your cool air
It’s a simple enough strategy – keeping the doors and windows closed in a room that you are cooling will minimise the area that the air conditioner needs to cool, meaning it won’t work as hard. This is especially important for room split system air conditioners. You may be surprised to know that drawing heavy curtains and blinds closed on large window spaces can also help keep external heat out of your cool oasis.
If you have a ducted system, using zones that can be switched on and off depending on where your family are relaxing at a particular time of day, is another effective way to minimise the energy load on your system. Most ducted systems are designed with zones for daytime (living areas) and nighttime (bedrooms).
This tip is great if you are installing a system for the first time – try to have your outdoor motor unit installed somewhere that is away from full sun in the hottest parts of the day. If you have wide eaves on your home, or part of your yard is shaded by a tree foliage or even a shadow cast by your neighbour’s home, the location of your outdoor unit can help it work up to 10% more efficiently, which saves you money everyday.
4. Use the fan
On spring days or summer evenings when it is not so hot, use the fan only mode of your air conditioner to displace the hot air in your home and out of open doors and window. As you are only powering the fan rather than refrigerating the air it costs less than a tenth of the normal running cost.
5. Plan ahead
If you are expecting several days in a row of hot weather, pre-cool your home overnight. This is quite effective if you have a solid brick exterior, or you know there is excellent ceiling and wall insulation in your house.
Pre-cooling allows your air conditioner to work at its best in the cooler evenings, using less power and putting less strain on the motors. It also means the unit won’t have to work as hard in the early part of the day as your home begins to heat up.
6. Keep it clean
The most important part of maintaining an efficient reverse cycle air conditioner is to clean the filter at least once every two months. A filter clogged with dirt and dust will be as much as 50% less efficient – which increases both the noise the unit makes and your operating costs as the air conditioner has to work harder to keep the air flowing. Cleaning the filter is simple:
- For ducted systems – turn the unit off, flip the return air grille down, remove the filter and give it a vacuum.
- Split systems – turn the unit off, flip the fascia down, remove the filter and give it a vacuum.
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your filters. Some systems e.g. Daikin and brands with the iZone controller have reminders when the filter is dirty and requires cleaning.
What other ways have you found to reduce your air conditioning costs?