Mona Vale resident, Michelle asks
“What can we do to reduce our electricity bill and save money when running our air conditioner? Should we avoid turning it on and off all the time, set it to a certain temperature or just not use it as often?”
Looking for ways to save money on your electricity bill when air conditioning is concerned is a question that we’re often asked here at Penair. There’s definitely a few things you need to be mindful of, which we’ll cover below.
The most obvious answer is to use your air conditioner less. Having it cranked up in the height of summer comes with a cost attached; it’s just the way it is. However, there are many ways to adjust your aircon use to cut into those energy bills – and still achieve temperature control that will keep you feeling comfortable.
Hit the ideal temperature
You really don’t need the controls turned so low that you feel the need to put on a jumper indoors in summer. Anything below 24°C is probably excessive and would feel cold to someone entering the home. Aim to achieve a cool, temperate environment – not arctic conditions.
Similarly in winter, setting your control around 21°C is suitable. When you turn it up beyond 22°C, the system is going to need to work a lot harder to maintain that temperature, and every degree above that, it’s going to need to work even harder again. Every degree above adds 10% or 15% to the electricity that the system consumes.
Use your timers
Homeowners frequently let their air conditioners run all night – especially during summer. Ideally, you’ll want to set your timer so that the air conditioner is not in use while you’re asleep. It’s also worthwhile investigating the different rate tariffs supplied by your energy provider. What the energy companies consider to be ‘peak hours’ are times of the day when energy is charged at a premium. For example, between 2 pm and 8 pm, Monday to Friday would be charged at a higher rate per kilowatt-hour than other times. If you’re wanting to cut your energy costs, it makes sense to set a timer to prevent your system operating during these high-cost hours.
Less is more
Timers will work during times of the year where there aren’t temperature extremes. But they may not help you achieve cost-cutting when it’s scorching. You need to rethink your strategy during heatwaves. For example, if you get home from work at 5 pm and turn the air conditioner on, it will have to work flat out to drop the temperature by 10 degrees. This again means it will be doing so at the highest kilowatt-hour dollar rate of the day.
A better strategy, in this case, would be to turn your air conditioner on in the morning when you leave the house. In the cool of the morning, it will be able to achieve and maintain a temperature in the home of about 24°C very quickly. While it’s doing so, it’s also using cheaper power. Some systems come with the ability for you to turn them on and off remotely using apps, which can be useful if you’re travelling or working unusual hours and want to work around peak energy rates.
Seal your windows
It sounds obvious, but keeping your windows open when your air conditioning is in use will push up the power it uses. There’s no point in having an air conditioner on unless you’ve got all your windows shut. If you have a ducted system, it’s not entirely necessary to shut your internal doors. But if it’s a split system, designed for one room, then you’ll want the doors closed as well to reduce energy use.
Invest in insulation
Insulation in your walls and ceilings and double-glazing on windows are brilliant ways of managing heat in a home. Without them, heat seeps through your walls, and your HVAC system has to work harder to control the internal temperature.
Upgrade your system
Newer models of air conditioners are a lot more energy efficient than they were even ten years ago. We’re seeing technology changing all the time. For example, a new aircon gas called R32 has come onto the market and is more efficient than the older types of gas. It means the star rating (the way the energy efficiency of a system is graded) is excellent.
To explain how this works, let’s look at a common household one-kilowatt electric bar heater. One kilowatt of electricity comes in, and one kilowatt of thermal energy goes out. When we look at a small air conditioner, it may have a star rating of five, which essentially means for one kilowatt of electricity going in, five kilowatts of thermal energy comes out.
Regular servicing and maintenance
Of course, a well-maintained air conditioning unit will always perform better – using, of course, much less power. This is why we always encourage regular servicing – especially for air conditioning units that are used heavily or have exceeded their warranties. Servicing will ensure your air-con runs at its most optimal level, and prevent it from using up large amounts of power.
Concerned about your power usage? Give us a call
Whether your power bill is telling you to invest in a new air conditioning system or change your usage and living habits, it is possible to cut your energy use. If you have concerns about how much power your air conditioner is using, give us a call and we’ll organise an inspection. We look forward to hearing from you.