The idea of trying to get through a hot, humid Brisbane summer without air conditioning is unthinkable for most people. But with the cost of living at record high levels, more and more people are trying to cut back on their electricity bills. The good news is that with a few simple tweaks, you can radically improve your air conditioner’s efficiency.
To help you get through the next scorching Brissy summer without breaking the bank, we’ve pulled together this guide on how to use your air conditioner efficiently.
How to use air conditioner efficiently – 8 top tips
Air conditioners have come a long way since the energy-guzzling models of the 1990s and 2000s. But whether you’ve got an older ducted air conditioner, or a modern, top-of-the-range split system, there are many things you can do to eke out that bit of extra efficiency. Here are our five top tips for how to use an air conditioner efficiently during summer.
1. Keep the temperature at around 24 degrees
On a stinking hot day it can be tempting to drop the air conditioner temperature to a chilly 18 degrees. Unfortunately, the lower you set the temperature, the harder your air conditioner will have to work to reach that temperature. In turn, that’ll push your energy bills up as the air conditioner chews extra electricity. According to Ergon Energy, reducing the temperature of your air conditioner by just one degree in summer can increase your air conditioner’s electricity consumption by 10 per cent.
The most energy-efficient way to use an air conditioner is to minimise the difference between the inside and outside temperatures. A good rule of thumb for Brisbane and South-East Queensland is to set your air conditioner temperature at around 24 or 25 degrees Celsius. You’ll still feel cool, but your air conditioner won’t have to work so hard.
2. Fans are your friend
People tend to think of air conditioners and fans as substitutes for each other. The logic tends to go, why would I use the fan when I can turn the air conditioner on instead? But when it comes to how to use an air conditioner efficiently, fans are your friend.
One of the best ways to keep your energy bills down is to use your ceiling fan and air conditioner at the same time. Fans are incredibly energy efficient and will help to quickly circulate cool air from your air conditioner around the room.
Also make the most of your air conditioner’s in-built fan. Setting the temperature to 24 or 25 degrees with the fan on will feel much cooler than setting it to 21 degrees without the fan, as the air will circulate around the room faster.
3. Only cool the rooms you need
The larger the space you’re trying to cool, the harder your air conditioner will have to work. Keeping doors and windows closed while you’re in a room with the air conditioner on will help the air con to reach the desired temperature faster. Most modern ducted air conditioner systems have built-in zone cooling features that let you choose certain rooms in the house to cool. Think about which parts of the house you’ll use most often in summer and program your air conditioner to only cool those rooms. After all, there’s no point cooling the spare bedroom if no one’s going to be sleeping in there!
4. Consider using dry mode
If the weather’s humid, but not too hot, consider using dry mode on your air conditioner. This mode uses less energy and focuses more on removing moisture from the air, rather than cooling the air. Often in Brisbane’s sticky weather pairing dry mode with a ceiling fan is a great alternative to using the air conditioner on full blast.
5. Get savvy about when you switch the air conditioner on and off
The majority of people turn the air conditioner on when they feel hot, which is generally in the afternoon. However, the warmer the room is, the harder the air conditioner has to work to bring the room down to a comfortable temperature. On days that are forecast to be particularly hot when you know your house will heat up more than usual, turn your air conditioner on a little bit earlier. This can minimise the amount of work the air conditioner has to do, and help it to run more efficiently.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to consider when the best time to turn the air conditioner off is. Lots of people assume that as soon as you leave the house you should turn the air conditioner off. While that’s certainly true if you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, if you’re just popping out to the shops for an hour or so—particularly on a really hot day—it can be more efficient to let the air conditioner continue to run.
6. Maintain your air conditioner
Regular maintenance is essential for keeping your air conditioner in good condition. Clogged filters, dirty condenser coils and broken components can dramatically reduce your air conditioner’s efficiency by making it work harder to achieve the same result. We recommend cleaning your unit regularly and watching out for these seven signs your air conditioner needs repair.
7. Keep the house closed during the day
Reducing the amount of heat that gets into your house in the first place is a great way to save your air conditioner from having to work harder. In the early morning, and late at night, open the house to let cooler air in. During the day, keep the doors and windows closed to keep warm air outside. Keeping your blinds or curtains drawn during the day while you’re out will also keep your house cooler.
8. Invest in insulation
If you’re already nailing these simple steps on how to use your air conditioner efficiently, but want to save even more energy, it might be worth considering other modifications to your home that enhance energy efficiency. Making sure your home has a good level of insulation is a great place to start, as it will keep you both warm in winter, and cool in summer. You can find other energy-saving tips here
- Ergon Energy, Energy Sense Tips
- ABC, 2023, Air conditioning tips to boost energy efficiency and cut your power bill
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