Ladies. We need to talk about air-conditioning. It seems that despite being the land of the air-conditioned home, we Aussies –especially we Aussie chicks – suck at running our air-cons efficiently. If you’re sitting there with a cold, queasy feeling in your tummy, don’t close this window – read on for some expert air conditioning tips that will save both money and our limited resources.
Hot in the city
It’s hot, I know. Dangerously, ridiculously so. In fact, last year was Australia’s hottest year since recordings began in 1910, and so far this millennium is off the charts. I am not here to tell you to throw out your air-conditioning unit and sweat it out. Instead, I want to share some knowledge that will help you reduce the impact of cooling your home.
Why is this important? For one, air-conditioners are one of the three most energy-sucking appliances in the home (after fridges and electric hot water systems). Secondly, as the heatwave in southern Australia proved, we simply don’t have the resources to cope with wasteful use. Thousands of residents faced power outages during the heatwave because the grid simply couldn’t cope.
The final reason to use your air-conditioning wisely is to save money. During summer, your air-con could be contributing up to 60 percent of your energy costs. That’s a lot of dosh.
How not to use air conditioning
Electronics company LG has just released the results of its LG Air-Conditioning Survey and the results are pretty disturbing.
- Most people have no idea how much cooling their home contributes to their power bill.
- Only a third of users clean their air-con’s filter once a year for maximum efficiency.
- 49% of survey respondents leave their air-con on for one to four hours per day over the summer, but women are twice as likely as men to leave the air-con on for more than eight hours a day over summer.
- Women are also twice as likely as men to leave the air-con on when they leave the house; more than half say they do this because they want the house to be cool when they get home and 29% leave it on because they think it uses less electricity than putting it on a high setting when they get home.
Air conditioning tips
To ensure you are getting the most out of your air-conditioner with the least impact, consider the following air conditioning tips to save money and energy:
- Maintain a room temperature of 25°C during summer. Every one degree difference adds around 10% to your air conditioning running costs.
- Clean or replace your filter every six months. Put it in your diary! A dirty air-conditioner not only pollutes your indoor space, it means the unit has to work overtime to cool your home.
- Don’t leave your air-con on when you go out! Even if it’s just for a short trip (better still, avoid short trips all together). Chuck it on high for 20 minutes or so if you must, or consider a remote-controlled unit when you upgrade (see below).
- Avoid placing other heat emitting home appliances near your air-conditioner. It causes your unit to work even harder to cool the air around it, increasing its energy output.
- Shade your windows in summer with curtains, awnings, or shutters to reduce heat absorption. By keeping your house cooler your air-conditioner has less work to do.
Choosing a new air-con unit
According to the LG survey, more than 60% of units were more than five years old, which means they are likely to be less efficient than current models. If you’re in the market for a new air-conditioning unit:
- Choose an inverter-based model.
- Go for the unit with the highest energy rating you can afford.
- Consider your usage – if you simply must come home to a cool house, choose a model like the LG 2013 R Series Split System Air Conditioner that you can control from your mobile phone.
Do you ever leave the air-conditioning on when you go out?