Cool head about en­ergy

NT News - Real Estate - - Market Place - AN­THONY KEANE

SPRING heat­waves across Aus­tralia have given house­holds an early burst of high elec­tric­ity use. Last week, the Bureau of Meterol­ogy an­nounced that more than a fifth of the coun­try ex­pe­ri­enced record high tem­per­a­tures in Septem­ber.

The heat came just as bills ar­rive that show the im­pact of July’s hefty price rises.

We’re of­ten urged to de­mand a bet­ter deal from our en­ergy re­tailer and keep win­dows and cur­tains shut, but there are some less pop­u­lar but sim­i­larly ef­fec­tive ways to cut elec­tric­ity costs.

Sim­ply take a look at your air­con­di­tioner.

“Air­con­di­tion­ers have a huge im­pact on most peo­ple’s bills – much more than wash­ing ma­chines and dish­wash­ers,” said Queens­land Con­sumers As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman Ian Jar­ratt.

Here are five air­con­di­tion­ing strate­gies to think about be­fore sum­mer re­ally strikes.

Feel­ing cool and warm is rel­a­tive to the out­side tem­per­a­ture, and an air­con­di­tioner can be set on a higher tem­per­a­ture on hot days than it is in win­ter and still cool you down.

Mr Jar­ratt said ev­ery de­gree set be­low 24C on your air­con­di­tioner in­creased power con­sump­tion by 10 per cent. So di­alling it down to 19C is go­ing to cost you 50 per cent more.

“If the tem­per­a­ture is set too low, it gob­bles up the juice.”

Peo­ple should use their air­con­di­tioner’s ECON or ECO but­ton if it has one, Mr Jar­ratt said.

“Many con­sumers are not aware of, or do not use, this fea­ture even though it can re­duce power con­sump­tion sig­nif­i­cantly and still de­liver ac­cept­able lev­els of com­fort.”

Con­sumer group Choice is cur­rently ex­am­in­ing the cost sav­ings of econ­omy cy­cles on dif­fer­ent models. Choice prod­uct cat­e­gory man­ager Chris Barnes said us­ing econ­omy mode would be “worth peo­ple’s while”.

Mr Barnes said many peo­ple were sur­prised to learn that they could ac­tu­ally clean the fil­ter on their air­con­di­tioner.

It’s a sim­ple job that only takes a few min­utes, and elec­tri­cian and Clip­sal brand am­bas­sador Re­becca Mair said it could save money.

“When fil­ters have a buildup of dust, ef­fi­ciency is im­paired, lead­ing to higher costs,” she said.

“En­sure your air­con is al­ways run­ning at its op­ti­mum by clean­ing the fil­ter once a week.”

Ms Mair said there was a grow­ing range of in­no­va­tive prod­ucts that could al­low peo­ple to mon­i­tor their elec­tric­ity us­age all the time via an on­line app.

“These en­ergy-sav­ing tools can iden­tify ap­pli­ances that are left on or us­ing ex­ces­sive power,” she said.

In many cases, par­tic­u­larly at night, you will only need the fan run­ning, so use this mode if your air­con has it.

Mr Jar­ratt said air­con vents could be aimed straight down, with a much cheaper floor fan then cir­cu­lat­ing the air and cool­ing rooms more ef­fi­ciently.

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