As the mercury rises, it’s natural to flick on the air-conditioner, but there are ways to keep cool which don’t burn lots of energy and push up the power bill.
According to experts from the CSIRO and Sustainability Victoria, householders can remain cool and comfortable this summer, while still being energy-conscious.
The CSIRO’s energy research director Dr Stephen White shares his top tips for getting the most out of air-conditioning and other less power-hungry ways to keep cool:
– Consider if you need the air-conditioner at all. Ceiling or pedestal fans can cost 10 times less than running an air-conditioner in the same room
– If using an air-conditioner, have it set between 24 and 25C. Every degree equals more power and therefore a bigger power bill
– Ensure the air-conditioning unit is running efficiently, by regularly cleaning the filters
– Close the windows and doors in the space where the air-conditioner is being used, along with all curtains and blinds, to maximise its effectiveness
– Turn off the air-conditioner when there’s no one home
– Cool down the house for free at night by opening windows on both sides of the house to get a cross-flow of air
– Use external blinds to keep the sun and glare out of the house.
Sustainability Victoria’s chief executive Stan Krpan says older homes especially can “bleed energy” in hot weather.
“For most people their house is the single biggest investment they ever make, yet many are literally pumping cooled air outside, costing money and undermining comfort,” Krpan says.
He recommends the following relatively simple and inexpensive measures to stay cool without just cranking up the AC.
1. Deal with draughts
“Draught sealing keeps cooled rooms cool. Draught stoppers are readily available from hardware shops and other outlets and are among the most cost-effective things you can do to use less energy,” Krpan says. Caulking gaps where pipes come in, around windows, skirting boards and floors further reduces leakage.
2. Consider windows
Uncovered windows can be among the biggest ways to use more energy, Krpan says.
“Curtains, ideally with pelmets, keep heat outside,” he said “Double glazing is expensive, but window film can also reduce heat transmission and save around $27 a year. Outdoor blinds can also make a big difference.”
“Check to see what insulation you have in the roof. Installing it can be a DIY project or organise to get someone to install it, or top it up for you. Comfort levels can be improved immediately,” Krpan says.
A cool shower is a great way to cool off, but long, luxurious showers can quickly add up. “A low-flow shower rose saves energy and water – up to $57 a year. Many models are on the market and are easy to fit,” Krpan says.
Dress to suit the weather
It’s a no-brainer to dress appropriately for the conditions and reduce the need for cooling.