Inside Out (Australia)
Beat the heat today
Keep your cool when it’s scorching outside with the latest smart and energy-efficient cooling appliances
Does summer bring with it thoughts of sweltering days and sleepless nights for you? Don’t despair. Shop around and you’ll find plenty of ways to keep your cool when the mercury rises. Better still, many of the latest cooling appliances come loaded with energy-savvy features, so you won’t get the shock of a hefty power bill.
“The right cooling product depends on your climate, budget, room size and set-up, and the type of cooling you prefer – as well as whether you want extra functionality such as air purification,” says Gary Brown, senior brand manager for home appliances at Harvey Norman. “Do you want refrigerated air, in which case you’re looking at an air conditioner, or simply to move air around with a ceiling or portable fan? Many people combine an air conditioner with a ceiling fan to disperse the cool air around, which is great in open-plan rooms. Others combine a humidifier with a fan to create an evaporative cooling effect.”
When it comes to conquering the heat on those stifling days, nothing beats an air conditioner. If you’re hesitant to flick the switch, don’t be. “Reverse-cycle air conditioners are one of the most energy-efficient ways to cool and heat your home, thanks to new inverter motors and clever energy-saving functions,” says Gary. “You can now get models with a six-star energy rating.”
You’ll also find styles to suit different home set-ups. “A ducted air conditioner, which cools your entire home via discreet vents in the ceiling, is the best option,” says Gary. “It offers powerful, flexible cooling and heating, and individualised climate control in every room.” A multi-zone ducted system will start from around $10,000 and require space in the ceiling to run the ducting.
Alternatively, choose a split-system air conditioner, which consists of two units – one inside and one out. A single-split system will cool an individual room, a multi-split system will cool several rooms via one shared outdoor unit, and a reverse-cycle split system offers both cooling and heating.
Today’s air conditioners are all about energy-efficiency and convenience. LG’s new split systems are voice-activated and compatible with Google Assistant, plus you can monitor energy consumption on your smartphone using the LG ThinQ app (available at the App Store and Google Play).
“DUCTED AIR CONDITIONING IS THE BEST OPTION AS IT OFFERS POWERFUL COOLING AND HEATING PLUS INDIVIDUALISED CLIMATE CONTROL IN EVERY ROOM”
GARY BROWN, HARVEY NORMAN
Fujitsu General offers a range of WiFi controllers for their ducted, single-split and multi-split systems, which allow you to change the temperature via an App or a smart device such as Google Home. Their systems also come with energy-saving features such as inverter technology, programmable timers and Human Sensor control. The latter is where the air conditioner automatically switches to energy-saving mode when no movement is detected in a room for 20 minutes.
Do you hate the cold blast of air that comes from an air conditioner? Well, Samsung’s new AR9500 Geo Wind-Free model offers still-air cooling, as well as dehumidification and built-in WiFi. Meanwhile, Panasonic’s Premium Reverse-Cycle R32 Wall-Mounted Split System (Z Series) removes allergens, bacteria and odours from the air while it cools.
It pays to buy the most energy-efficient air conditioner you can. “Investing in a 4.5-star reverse-cycle air conditioner rather than a 1.5-star unit could save you between $71 and $241 a year in cooling costs, depending on where you live,” says Jan Prichard, general manager of customer care at Origin Energy. Split systems start from about $700 for a bedroom and just under $2000 for a living area, according to Harvey Norman’s Gary Brown.
A ceiling fan is great for taking the edge off on milder days. “Using ceiling fans instead of air con when the temperature is between 28°C and 30°C can save you up to $116 a year,” says Jan.
And you can forget boring blades, too – today’s ceiling fans are designed to be noticed. “They can give you the same impact as a pendant light,” says Melanie Smith, lighting design assistant manager at Beacon Lighting. “The latest trends in fans include black minimal, white Hamptons-inspired, and styles in koa and teak.” Some come with dimmable LED lights – just right for a bedroom or to switch up the mood in a kitchen or dining area.
To reduce running costs, look for Direct Current (DC) fans. “They use less power, produce a high, silent airflow and offer more than three speeds,” says Melanie.
It’s also important to choose the right size of fan for the space. “The longer the fan blade, the larger the area it will cover,” says Rebecca Steffanoni, solutions specialist at Big Ass Fans. “A 1.3-metre-diameter fan will suit a space of up to 4m x 4m, while a 2.1-metre fan will cover a 9m x 9m area.” And check that it’s hand-balanced. “Fans that don’t undergo balancing tend to rock, wobble and even rattle,” says Rebecca.
A portable evaporative cooling fan, which draws hot air through wet filter pads and disperses cool, moist air into the room, suits those living in a dry climate. “They provide decent cooling, although not to the same degree as an air conditioner,” says Colin Jones, category expert at Appliances Online.
Another appealing option, especially for outdoors, is a misting fan. Dimplex’s Misting Fan will spread a cooling mist on hot days via a 360-degree rotating grill. For direct, portable cooling and air purification without the moisture – say, on a desk or by the bed – consider Dyson’s Pure Cool Me personal purifier fan.