Air conditioners are an essential item for most households, even for people living in moderate climates. However, they are also one of the largest energy consumers and contributors to electricity costs in your home. Before you start limiting your air conditioning use, there are some things which you can do to reduce your air conditioners energy consumption and your electricity bills. The following list details ways of reducing air conditioning energy consumption and electricity costs, in relation to air conditioners and other natural cooling strategies.
The air conditioning system
There are many ways to reduce energy costs directly with the air conditioner itself.
- Size: Buying the right size air conditioner for the space is fundamental when trying to conserve energy and reducing power costs. An air conditioner which is too small for a room or space will work hard to try to cool the room, simply meaning it will use more energy and increase electricity costs. Also if an air conditioner is too big for a room, it will be use more energy than necessary and causing unnecessary electricity costs.
- Type: Installing the correct air conditioning unit for your needs is also an important factor. With ducted air conditioning, which cools the whole home, it necessary to ensure that you have a zoning feature, so that you will only cool or heat the rooms you require. Alternatively by installing split systems in each of the required areas, allows you to control individually each space and increase the energy efficiency for the whole home.
- Energy efficiency: By choosing an energy efficient air conditioner model, you can reduce energy consumption and also electricity running costs. All split system air conditioners are required to carry an energy efficiency star rating. The more stars on the label, the more energy efficient the air conditioner is and the more you will save on energy costs
- Night Use: By changing the air conditioning running mode at night, as the same level of cooling isn’t needed as the daytime, you can reduce energy costs. Some units have a sleep mode which lowers the air conditioner output on a timer system.
- Regular maintenance and servicing: Air conditioners filters build up with dirt and dust over time. It is important that the filters are cleaned from time to time, as dirty filters can make the air conditioner work harder and increase running costs.
- Replace old air conditioners: Older air conditioning systems often require more repairs and most probably will become less energy efficient over time. When trying to save on electricity costs, its best to replace an older model with a more energy efficient unit, if possible.
- Maintain an optimal temperature level: By maintaining an optimal temperature level, your air conditioner will be working a steady pace. An air conditioner that is labouring or over-working will definitely use more electricity. During the hotter months, try to run your air conditioner at around 25-27 degrees and during winter, around 18-20 degrees for heating. An optimal temperature level allows the air conditioner to work at a steady pace, while creating a comfortable environment.
- Outside and inside temperatures: When there is little difference between the outdoor air temperature and the inside cooled air temperature, it reduces the energy consumption. With every degree above 22 degrees, the air conditioner will use 3 to 4 percent less power. Therefore by setting your air conditioner thermostat at a lower than needed temperature, results in unnecessary additional energy consumption. This is true for moderate climates, however in harsher climates air conditioners will have to work harder. Those in warmer climates will set their cooling temperatures lower and these in cooler climates will set their temperature a little warmer.
Natural and alternative cooling strategies
There are many other things that can be done to help reduce the energy and costs associated with air conditioning.
- House insulation: It is important to ensure you have adequate insulation in your home especially if you live in a free standing house. Most heat enters through the roof, as by ensuring that you have correct insulation can help your house stay cooler longer. For homes with ducted air conditioning, it is essential that the areas where the ducts run are properly insulated, so that the air coming in is kept as cool as possible.
- Furniture arrangement: As obscure as it sounds, rearranging the furniture in your home can reduce energy running costs associated with your air conditioner. Furniture can sometimes obstruct the air flow from air conditioning vents, which means you can be cooling the back of the sofa instead of the room. Any objects or furniture in the way of the air flow will hinder its efficiency and increase energy costs.
- Lighting: By being conscious in turning off lights in the house and closing any open windows when using the air conditioner, can affect the amount of heat which is being let into the house. Also closing the blinds or curtains all the way or in part, during direct sunlight hours helps keep heat out of the home. The house then can stay cooler and the air conditioner will not work overtime to keep the room cool.
- Paint: As most heat comes into the home through the roof, it may be beneficial to consider using a reflective paint to coat your roof. This will help reduce heat absorption by the roof. Exterior walls can also be painted a lighter colour or with paint that reflects sunlight.
- Trees and plants: Surrounding your home with trees and plants is another natural cooling technique.
- Heat generating objects: All electrical gadgets generate heat and can impact on the cooling efficiency of your air conditioner. Avoid placing TVs, lamps, internet modems, computers near the air conditioner, to reduce the amount of time the air conditioner needs to run. It can be beneficial not to cook or use the clothes dryer during the time that the air conditioner is working.
- Reduce outside heat: Try to keep doors and windows to the air conditioned room as closed if possible. If warmer air enters the air conditioned space, the air conditioner will work harder and therefore increase power costs.
- Using other systems: Using ceiling or pedestal fans on really hot days can help circulate the cool air and reduce the pressure on the air conditioner to work hard pumping cool air into the house. Fans use less energy than air conditioners, so can assist in reducing energy costs.
As mentioned above, there are many different ways you can try to reduce your energy bills and energy consumption with your air conditioning systems in your home. Even implementing a few strategies can decrease your energy consumption and your electricity power bills, without impacting the air conditioning comfort within your home.