According to the Australian public policy think tank, the Grattan Institute, wholesale electricity prices rose across the National Electricity Market (NEM) by 130% on average across most of Australia between 2015 and 2017. In fact, household bills in some states increased by up to 20% last year alone.
However, we all want to keep cool in summer and warm in winter, so whether you’ve got a portable system, a window or wall unit, a split or a ducted system, here are some easy ways you can save money on your air conditioning.
Choose the right air conditioner
First things first. If you’re looking to lower power bills, then you need to choose the right air conditioner. This is because if the unit’s too big, it will have short cooling and heating cycles which will use up a lot of energy. If it’s too small, it will have to work harder to warm up or cool down your home, which will also add to your electricity bills.
You should also check how much energy it uses by comparing the heating and cooling input and output of different models, which is measured in terms of kilowatts (KW). The size of your home, the rooms it needs to heat and cool and other internal heating or cooling sources can also influence the type of air conditioner you need.
Energy rating labels are a great way of comparing models. These labels have a star rating (from one to six) which measure both heating and cooling efficiency. The more stars a unit has, the more energy efficient it is and the cheaper it will be to run. Super-efficient models will have a rating of between seven and 10 stars.
Be smart about heating and cooling
Once you’ve chosen the most efficient air conditioner for your needs, you then need to use it properly in order to maximise its advantages and keep power bills in check. When the unit’s turned on, close all your home’s doors and windows and check the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures – the smaller the difference between the inside and outside temperatures, the lower your electricity usage. In summer, it’s recommended that the thermostat should be between 24 and 26°C and in winter between 18 and 20°C.
In summer, turn the system off at night and early in the morning and ventilate your home to let the cool air in. You should also turn off other internal heat sources like lights, computers etc. which can add to the heating load, and ensure you have good air circulation around both inside and outside units. This can be done by removing furniture, plants or curtains that may be obstructing an inside unit and on an outside unit, removing any dust or foliage and covering the unit with an awning or shade cloth to stop it from overheating.
In order to lower air conditioning bills, you should also take advantage of your unit’s settings. The economy mode can help maintain moderate temperatures in the right conditions, and timers and programmable thermostats can reduce the number of hours a unit is actually running. Zoning settings are also ideal for energy conservation as they only allow air to flow to certain areas of your home.
Consider long-term strategies
If you are looking to save money on your air conditioning and you’re building a new home or undertaking some renovations, there are a number of structural ways you can increase your home’s energy efficiency as well.
Insulation can be installed in ceilings, walls, pipes and roof spaces in order to reduce heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Adequate insulation can also reduce the work your air conditioner needs to do in order to heat and cool rooms.
Double glazed windows can also assist with trapping hot or cool air, skylights can help natural light enter the house during winter, and exterior shadings like shutters, awnings, blinds, drapes and tinting can reduce the amount of sun entering rooms in summer and allow sunlight in during the day in winter.
Understand the market
If you’re looking to lower power bills, then it’s worth realising that many retailers offer discounts such as paying your bills on time and by direct debit. You can also investigate switching to a fixed rate plan with competitive prices, which some providers will offer if you lock into a contract. These allow you to take advantage of competitive prices immediately and save money in the long run.
South East Queensland providers also generally offer customers two types of contracts – standard and market contracts. Standard contracts are normally more expensive, so it’s worth having a chat with your provider and seeing if they can get you a better deal on a market contract. Although these often come with certain conditions, they still offer you ways to save on your power bills.
The continually increasing competition in the market also means that there will be even more opportunities to save in the future, so keep a close eye on your bills and don’t be afraid to switch providers if you don’t think you’re getting the best deal.
Have your unit serviced regularly
Another way to save money on your air conditioning is to have your unit serviced regularly. Air conditioning units essentially help to filter dirt and bacteria from the air which unfortunately makes them susceptible to clogging. Dirty filters can also make a unit work much harder which means more electricity’s being used, so filters should be cleaned and vents and exterior components dusted regularly.
Professional service providers will ensure your unit is in tip-top condition and working efficiently. Maintenance generally includes measuring the airflow, flushing the drains, cleaning the ductwork, checking the refrigerant and the motor’s efficiency and replacing any filters if needed.
If your unit is old and overworked, they will probably also recommend that you replace it. Newer models must adhere to the government’s Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and most of them will have a range of features that make them more energy efficient. And that means savings!
Keen to start saving money on your air conditioning bill? Contact Crown Power today on 0427 175 654 (Brisbane & Sunshine Coast) or on 0409 678 803 (Gold Coast).