With our wonderfully long summers, it’s no wonder that more and more Australians are investing in an air conditioning system to help cool things down during the heat of the day. In peak season, your air conditioner needs to work even harder, meaning unfortunately your air conditioning bill does too – at charging you more! Here are 7 ways to lower your air conditioning bill this summer.
#1 – Set your air conditioner’s thermostat to an efficient level
When it comes to reducing your air conditioning bill, every degree really does matter, because every degree of cooling you do without, you save on energy consumption. One of the most energy-efficient things you can do is to set your thermostat at a temperature that won’t make your air conditioner work too hard, but also ensure everyone in the household can enjoy a comfortable environment.
As a general rule, you should try not to sent your indoor temperature any lower than 8°C below outdoor temperature, which is normally around 24°C during summer. Another energy saving tip is to consider a thermostat with a built-in timer. This way you’re not only setting the temperature, you’re setting the hours that your unit operates in order for it to achieve maximum efficiency.
#2 – Use passive cooling techniques and shade to keep costs down
Passive cooling techniques can also work well, because it means your air conditioning unit doesn’t have to work so hard, thus saving you money on your air conditioning bill. Keep blinds, curtains, shutters and awnings drawn and closed during summer, and choose curtains and blinds with light coloured backings if the windows are facing the sun.
Tinted windows can also drastically reduce heat absorption, as can Mother Nature’s original cooling defence – trees. Plant vines, trees or shrubs as a defensive line of shade for your home and consider the roof and walls as well as the windows.
#3 – Turn your air conditioner off at night and save money while you sleep!
It’s as clear as night and day really – turn your air conditioner off at night! Evening air is naturally cooler than in the daytime, so take advantage of the fact and turn off your AC and open a window instead. If you are lucky enough to enjoy a cooling night-time breeze, open windows on both sides of your house as well to allow the air to flow through. Our bodies don’t really need air conditioning for comfortable sleeping, so with your unit turned off you’ll enjoy not only sweet dreams but sweet energy savings as well.
#4 – Turn off heat-emitting culprits and lights in unused areas
Ovens, printers, computers, lamps and other electronic equipment all emit heat and add to air conditioning bills because they force your AC unit to work harder to keep the temperature under control. Turning off heat-emitting gadgets and lights in unused areas of the house may not seem like it would make a huge difference but it all adds up, especially if you’re faced with a massive electricity bill every quarter!
#5 – Optimise circulation and use fans as much as possible
Good circulation around your air conditioning unit (both inside and outside) is actually essential for optimum efficiency. If your unit is restricted in any way, it can lead to increased power consumption and also damage the unit permanently. Check your outside unit is free from plants and dust accumulation, and inside, make sure fixtures, furniture, plants and curtains aren’t hampering circulation either.
And they aren’t necessarily as cooling as having an efficient air conditioner, but fans can assist with the circulation of the air that’s generated by your air conditioner … switch them on and start saving money on air conditioning!
#6 – Maintain your air conditioner regularly and replace your unit when needed
Another sure-fire energy saving tip is to make sure your air conditioner is maintained regularly. Air conditioners help to filter bacteria and dirt from the air and are therefore extremely susceptible to clogging. Dirty filters also make a unit work much harder, meaning electricity is being used and your electricity costs will be higher.
Both indoor and outdoor units should be cleaned regularly, however, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for more information. Filters normally need to be replaced and cleaned every month or so, and you should also consider hiring a specialist to clean your unit annually to ensure it’s kept in tip-top condition.
If your unit is old and overworked, consider replacing it – newer models are manufactured to be more energy efficient, and due to their construction and Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), allow for a much more efficient circulation of air.
#7 – All non-ducted air-conditioning units must now carry an Energy Rating Label
Residential air conditioners have been subject to Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) since 2004, and all domestic single phase, non-ducted air conditioning units must now carry an Energy Rating Label. Air conditioner energy ratings on ducted systems are voluntary, however, you can view their efficiency performance on the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Registration Database.
Just like other appliances, air conditioning units are given star ratings, blue for their cooling function and red for their heating function (unless it is solely a cooling device). The more stars the unit has, the more efficient it is and units can be rated up to 10 stars. You can read more information about the star rating of your air conditioner here.