Summertime, and the livin’ is usually hot and sticky in Australia and yes, easy as long as you have air conditioning and it’s running smoothly well before the heat hits the fan. Australia has beautiful long summers but both maximum and minimum temperatures were very much above average for 2017/18 (1), and it looks as if we’ll be having some extremes again this summer, so having your air conditioner ready is vital if you want to live in comfort.
Your air conditioning unit at home will be expected to work super hard this summer so your power bills could rise along with the heat. However, there are some simple and effective tips to reduce your air conditioning bill over this summer while also keeping a comfortable indoor temperature.
1. Switch off the air conditioner at night
This is a rather simple but effective tip that will save money – switch off the unit while you sleep and turn it on during the day. The evening air – unless it’s during a heatwave with hot nights – is naturally cooler, so you won’t need the air-conditioner and can simply open a window and breathe in the fresh air of a gentle breeze. To sleep in comfort, your body doesn’t need the air conditioner to operate at the same temperature that it does in the daytime. Also, there’s no need to blast the air conditioner on full, or at all while you’re at work.
2. Set and Save Thermostats and Timers
To save money and energy while keeping your house cool this summer, every degree matters so a good energy-efficient tip is to set the air conditioner’s thermostat at a comfortable temperature. This means the unit won’t need to work too hard, but it will still keep your house or room cool enough to be comfortable. Even if you set the unit at one degree colder in summer and one degree warmer in winter can cause a difference of 10 per cent on your power bill. As a guide, check out these tips below: don’t set the thermostat less than eight degrees below the outside temperature (if it’s 30 outside, set it at 22 or 23C inside). A great way to save on energy costs is to have a thermostat with a timer built in so you don’t have to worry about changing it all the time.
- Set your air conditioner to 24°C or higher – each degree under this setting uses five per cent more energy
- Use fans instead of air conditioning and save between $40 and $200 a year on your power bill
- Only use your air conditioner when the temperature outside is more than 30°C and save between $50 and $340 a year.
- Set the air conditioner’s heat to 18-20°C – each degree over 20°C uses about 10 per cent more energy.
- When it’s very cold, use electric throw, switch off your portable heater and save from $70 to $280 a year.
3. Pull the Blinds
Shade will keep the house cooler and your air conditioner won’t need to work so hard, and your power bill will be lower. During a really hot summer, pull the blinds down, draw the curtains or drapes and close the awnings first thing in the morning to keep out the hot air. If you have shade trees all the better.
4. Turn Off Heat-emitting Electronics
Appliances and electronics such as televisions, printers and computers, lamps, and the oven in the kitchen generate an enormous amount of heat and force the air conditioner to work harder to control the temperature. So switch them all off and save money and lengthen the life of your air conditioner. You could always cook on the barbecue outside on a hot evening for instance.
5. Keep it Clean, Keep Pests Away
Make sure your air conditioner receives regular and expert maintenance and that the filter is either replaced or cleaned to keep the unit functioning at its best. A dirty filter will make your unit work harder, use more power and increase your power bills by using up more electricity. Bird droppings are highly acidic and can cause damage not only to buildings but nesting birds can also damage ventilation and air conditioning. If there’s damage to your air conditioner, call your plumber can fix the problem and for the long-term, your pest removal, control and professional exterminator can get rid of bird pest infestations via bird net solutions.
6. Fixing Leaks
Leaks in your air conditioner ducts can lose up to 30 per cent of airflow, and window units are hard to seal properly, but you can find leaks using the age-old ‘smoke trick’. The trick works for window units and all you do hold a lit stick of incense where the unit and the window frame join up. For central air conditioners hold the lit incense stick near duct connections. Check if the smoke blows around if so you have a leak. For ductwork, your plumber will block off the leak using aluminium foil tape to seal any small gaps, and the appropriate duct tape for larger ones and window units.
7. Keep Your Air Conditioner Unit Cool
To extend the life of your air conditioning system and keep it cool, keep blinds or shades down during the day, and if you don’t have them, install awnings to shield any windows that face direct sunshine in the hottest part of the day. You can also think about running the unit with ceiling or floor fans to more effectively circulate the cooled air.
8. Maintain Your Air Conditioning System
Your air conditioner should be serviced every year and that goes beyond just cleaning or changing the filters. You should set up a schedule for this service before summer begins and make sure your plumber or air conditioning professional includes the following tasks:
- Adjust or replace fan belts
- Lubricate motors and bearings
- Inspect, clean coils
- Replace or clean filters
- Clean and check blowers and fans
- Check refrigerant and pressures
- Inspect controls and safeties
- Verify operating temperatures
9. Service the Compressor/Condenser
A central air conditioning system’s condenser and air compressor are usually found outside the house, close to the foundations and they function better if there’s about half a metre of clear space all around it. This means no long grass, nearby shrubs, leaves and branches. Install condensers or window units on the south side of your house, or shield them from sunlight with a screen since if they’re in the direct sun, their efficiency is lessened by as much as 10 per cent.
10. Providing Airflow
If you shut too many doors inside it causes central air conditioning systems to go out of whack, meaning there will be less air flow in the whole house. For privacy, try keeping doors slightly ajar.
Alex Morrison has been an digital marketer in Melbourne for over 10 years. In this time he has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including printing, graphic and web design. As the owner of Integral Media he is now utilising his knowledge and experience with his rapidly increasing client portfolio to help them achieve their business goals.