Keep your cool this Wet
QI’m thinking of buying an airconditioner but I’m concerned about the ongoing power bills. Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to use airconditioners efficiently?
ATurning on the airconditioner is about as synonymous with the wet season in Darwin as mangoes and mould.
But for most Australians, using the airconditioner also goes hand-in-hand with increasing power bills — and a sense of dread when those bills arrive. But there are ways to use airconditioners more efficiently — and reduce your power bills.
LG Electronics marketing manager for mobile and airconditioning, Bruce Leigh, says there’s a huge market for airconditioners in Australia as we seek comfort at home.
“It’s all about making a comfortable environment for yourself and your family,” he says.
“Airconditioners have changed a lot in the past 10 to 20 years, they’re a lot more efficient and they have a lot more benefits than previously.” Calling in help Bruce says calling in an expert can help determine which airconditioner that would best suit your home because they will look at variables such as the size of your home, whether you’ve got north-facing windows, whether you have curtains, or if it’s for the kitchen or a bedroom.
“Your cooling and heating devices can make up to 40 per cent of your energy usage for your whole household,” he says.
“If it’s a new build you may want to look at ducted airconditioning which is very minimalist.
“The only thing that shows is the grilles, so it’s great for those who want a sleek, modern design.”
Bruce says a great benefit of ducted airconditioning is the ability to run the airconditioner in some rooms but not others.
“LG has a new system coming out in 2019 which can control up to eight different zones in the same house,” he says.
“That just makes it easier for you to control your energy usage.
“If you have a big house and you don’t need to aircondition the east wing, you can just focus on airconditioning the occupied areas.”
He says homeowners with an existing apartment or a house without a suitable roof space may find a ducted system is not an option for them.
“For those who need to retro-build, then the only option may be a wall-mounted airconditioner which can still the day,” he says. “If you get direct sunlight coming into your house it’s going to heat up your room, which means your airconditioner has to work harder, which can add stress to your machine, wear and tear and also can affect your energy bill.
“A very common mistake people make is they blast their airconditioner. For example, it’s 35°C outside and they try and get a low temperature like 21°C. That makes the airconditioner work really hard and then they turn it off and the room heats up again and then they blast it back down again to 21°C.
“It’s much more efficient energy-wise — and kinder to the machine in terms of wear and tear — to keep it to a constant, comfortable 24-25°C degrees and it can run at that constant temperature. You can stay comfortable and you actually save on energy in the long term.”
Bruce says the government website energyrating.com.au supplies variables and calculations to help determine if a particular airconditioner is energy efficient.
“Modern machines have got great new innovations,” he says.
“The new WH series from LG has the current energy usage of the machine itself on a display so you can see the usage in real time.
“You can also download a free app called Smart ThinQ and you can see your weekly or monthly energy usage and how much your airconditioning is adding to your energy bills.
“It’s worth remembering airconditioners not only cool in the summer, they heat during the winter so there are two benefits.”
Another way to ensure a machine runs as efficiently as possible is through maintenance.
“It’s certainly worth giving them a spring clean or an autumn clean every six months,” he says. “Clean around your outdoor unit for leaves or cobwebs or dust, just a fine bristled brush would be fine, and also in the indoor unit as well, to make sure the filters are clean. Just to make sure the airconditioner can run with clean air flow, it helps it run smoother and uses less energy.”
He says if airconditioners get moist inside the indoor unit, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria and mould.
“The auto clean function helps dry out the indoor unit so it’s nice and dry which helps reduce mould and keeps the environment cleaner and fresher,” Bruce says.