Summer is upon us and as the mercury rises, so too can our energy bills. When air-conditioned bliss is available at the push of a button, it’s often hard to think of what else we can do to stay cool and comfortable, save on bills, and reduce our greenhouse gas footprint.
So, as you sink into the couch for cricket and chill, give some thought to some of our handy energy saving tips.
Cool (but not too cool)
Each degree of air conditioned cooling can add up to 10 per cent to your running costs. It’s best to keep your temperature setting between 24-25 degrees Celsius and only cool the areas people are using. For most efficient use of your air conditioning system, clean the filters regularly and make sure you close the windows, doors, curtains and blinds in the room/s you’re cooling.
When turning on the air conditioner, you may be tempted to set the temperature lower to achieve a more immediate cooling effect. We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but with most air conditioner models, this will not cool your home any faster.
Finally, if you need to rug up indoors, your air-conditioning temperature is set too low!
If you have photovoltaic (PV) panels installed on your roof, then utilise the free and clean electricity they are generating and schedule your appliances to run during the time the sun is shining. You can even program some air conditioners to pre-cool your home using PV power and arrive home to a cool space.
Such a fan
Portable and ceiling fans are a cheap, low-energy way of moving air around your home. In fact, the stream of air blowing over someone can reduce the temperature of the air next to them by 2-3 degrees Celsius. Running fans costs only a fraction of running an air-conditioner for the same room, but remember that fans cool people (not rooms), so turn them off when you leave.
Depending on your climate, up to 40 per cent of the energy used to cool your home can be lost through windows. These losses can be reduced substantially with double glazing, tinting, or snugly-fitted window coverings such as drapes or roller blinds. Light-coloured backings on window-facing sides deflect sun heat.
Also, each square metre of direct sunlight on windows can significantly increase the temperature indoors. External blinds keep the sun and glare out of the house, and shade from trees can help keep the heat out. While we’re all for a summer sleep-in, try getting up early on a hot day to close windows, lower blinds and close off rooms not in use – thank us later!
If you have a green thumb, consider planting shade trees, wall vines and thick shrubs and think about shade covering for not only windows but walls and roofs as well.
Life’s a breeze
Cool down at night by opening windows on both sides of the house to get cross-flow of air. Also, check the insulation in ceilings and walls, the better the insulation, the more likely cool air will stay where it’s needed.
If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. We’re serious. Running your oven and stove will have a considerable effect on your indoor temperature, so take it outdoors and give the BBQ a workout.
Out of town?
You can give your appliances a well-earned rest by turning them off at the wall. Also consider motion sensor lights to save on running costs.
Many household appliances give off heat, so consider running your clothes dryer, hair dryer, computer, gaming console etc. in the cooler hours, or not at all. If you’re in the market for new appliances, give some thought to the energy star rating. The more stars on the label, the more energy efficient, which means savings on running costs and emissions.
This article was originally published 3 January 2017.