Tips on how to keep your air conditioning bills down this summer?

There are few better feelings than heading inside on a swelteringly hot summer's day and feeling instant relief from an ice-cold air conditioner. While the perks of an air conditioner are hard to argue - especially in Australia's harsh weather conditions - the energy bills derived from running a unit can deter many people from using theirs.

Fortunately, while it's impossible to completely avoid air conditioner-related energy bills, it is possible to reduce them dramatically.

First and foremost - it's important that you don't set your air conditioner to a temperature that's unachievable for the air conditioner to reach. If a unit is set too low, the air conditioner will continuously work to reach a temperature it can never hit - this will result in sky-high bills.

The temperature you choose for your system should depend on your outside conditions. Air conditioners in hotter climates will have to work harder to reach a cool temperature, so they should be set slightly higher. As a general rule your air conditioner should not be set more than 8 degrees below the outside temperature - that means if it is 32 degrees outside your set point on cooling should be no lower than 24 degrees.

Each degree lower you set your air conditioner will consume about 10% more energy.

Setting your air conditioner to a temperature that's suited for the location you're in is a great start to reducing your energy bills. However, there are many other steps you can take to reduce them. Here are five tips on how you can keep your air conditioning bill down while enjoying an icy cold space this summer.

Use the smart feature

Many homeowners love coming home to an icy cold house. To achieve this, they will leave their air conditioner on while they are out. This is a huge contributor to high energy bills and can be avoided by utilising the smart feature to turn the air conditioning system on remotely.

Smart systems have linked phone apps that homeowners can use to control their systems when they're not home. To reduce your power bill, utilise them and switch your AC on fifteen minutes before arriving home, rather than leaving it on all day.

Upgrade your old system to an inverter air conditioner

Inverter air conditioners utilise energy efficient technology that allows the air conditioning motor to run at a suitable speed for the desired air conditioner temperature. Non-inverter air conditioning systems will constantly switch the compressor motor on and off as it attempts to reach the temperature settings.

The inverter technology changes the speed of the compressor motor to suit the circumstances, rather than turning it off altogether. This saves energy significantly. In fact, inverter air conditioners can reduce energy bills by up to 30%.

Inverter technology started being widely available in the market in around 2006. If your air conditioner is older than this it is likely it will be a fixed speed system.

Engage the 'auto' setting

The auto setting refers to the fan within the air conditioner and is something that should always be switched on. Many AC users tend to turn the fan up to the maximum setting, rather than using the 'auto' setting, which actually causes excessive bills, rather than achieving optimum cooling.

When the maximum fan setting is engaged, it means that the fan will continue to run, even after the desired air conditioner temperature is reached. So, if the temperature is reached but the fan is still running.

When 'auto' is chosen, the fan will only run while the cooling system is active. When the room has achieved its set temperature - systems in 'auto' will both stop cooling and it's fan will stop at the same time. This ensures maximum energy efficiency for your unit. So, you’ll keep both the temperature of a room - and your power bill - down.

Make sure the units servicing is up to date

If your air conditioner fan wheel, filters or coils are dirty - your system will have to work harder to achieve the same outcomes. In an air-conditioner, having a dirty filters, fan wheels or coils, is the equivalent of driving your car with the handbrake on, you still move but the engine has to work harder to achieve the same outcome.

If your air conditioner is faulty, it's going to work overtime to reach the set air conditioner temperature, and likely leave you with a lofty energy bill.

Regular servicing will ensure your air conditioner is working at the highest possible efficiency.

Use a fan in conjunction with AC

Fans don't actually cool down the air - that's the air conditioner's job - however, they do circulate air around, which can help keep a room cool. Fans are very cheap to run, in fact, in Australia, a ceiling fan costs about 0.1c to 1.5c per hour to run.

A fan can assist an air conditioner by circulating the cool air, from the air conditioning unit, around the room. This means that air conditioners won't have to consistently work to reach. It's also important to note that cool air sinks, so a fan will help to push the air around so that the cool air can be felt on your face and upper body, rather than just your feet!

Make sure hot appliances are switched off

Big appliances produce heat while they're working. Think; dishwashers, ovens, fridges and computers. While household items like this shouldn't affect the temperature of a room too much, it can make a huge difference for commercial areas - like professional kitchens or office spaces. For spaces like these, it's important to ensure these appliances are turning off at night (if possible) so that the air conditioner can reach the ideal air conditioner temperature quicker, and result in lower energy bills.

Start higher when determining the optimal air conditioning temperature

When you're picking the ideal air conditioner temperature for the room you're in, it's always a good idea to start the thermostat a couple of degrees higher than you think you want.

Often, people think a temperature will be too warm when it's actually perfect. If the room reaches this temperature and you know you'd like to be a little cooler, go ahead and reduce the temperature. However, you may find the temperature adequate, and this higher temperature will go a long way with saving you money on your energy bills.

A setting of 24 degrees is usually low enough for most people to feel comfortable.

Plant trees outside windows

Any item that blocks the sun from a room will help lower the temperature of the room. When the temperature of a room is lower, an air conditioner won't have to work so hard to hit the desired temperature on the thermostat.

When the sun is blasting into a room all day long, it can make it a lot hotter. A way to avoid this is by planting big trees outside windows that are hit by the sun for long periods of time per day.

Use block out curtains

Block out curtains work in the same way that planting trees outside windows does, the goal is to lower the overall temperature of the room before the air conditioner is even switched on. Block-out curtains will lower the temperature of a room a lot and as a result, the air conditioner won't have to work so hard to hit the temperature set on the thermostat. It goes without saying that this will result in a lower electricity bill.


What temperature should I set my air conditioner in summer?

This depends on personal preference, as well as the outside temperature. But, it's important to keep in mind that if an air conditioner is set at an unachievable temperature, it will constantly work to reach this setting. Continuous use of an air conditioning system will cause wear and tear and reduce the life span of your unit. We've popped a guide above on approximate optimal temperature for different areas of Australia.

Does it cost more money when air conditioners are turned on and off a lot?

Yes, when a compressor motor is turned on and off this uses extra energy and causes wear and tear on the machine. This is why most systems are now inverters - they use a lot less energy than a fixed speed system.

Why does my air conditioner fan never turn off?

Functioning air conditioners should switch off when they hit the AC temperature set on the thermostat, and then turn back on when that temperature rises again.

If your air conditioner does not turn off when the set temperature is reached this indicates a control issue - which will need to be investigated by a technician.

If you're AC is fan is continuously running and never turns off it could be something as simple as not using the 'auto' setting. This will cause the fan to continuously run, even when the desired temperature is hit.

If you've set your air conditioning system to 'auto', but still facing the same problem, it's a good idea to have a technician check out your air conditioner, as it's probably caused by an internal problem within your air conditioning.

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