Cool head about energy
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.