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May 2019

save money air conditioner

Save Money With Your Air Conditioner

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How to Save Money with an Air Conditioner

We love Australian summers but things can get a little too hot sometimes. That’s when air conditioning is invaluable to keep you and your family cool and comfortable. However, it can be expensive to run if you’re not careful so here are a few tips to save you money without having to be too careful about when you do and don’t have it running.

1. Set the Right Temperature

Setting the thermostat one degree warmer can cut electricity costs for air conditioning by 10% so having the correct temperature can be crucial in saving you money.

You clearly want to be comfortable but that doesn’t mean having the temperature so cool you have to wear warm clothes to compensate.

One recommendation is to set the thermostat 8⁰C less than the outside temperature so the system isn’t overworked or to aim for a comfortable 22-24⁰C.

2. Only When Needed

There is a temptation to have the air conditioning on permanently and use the thermostat to determine how it runs. That can be a costly method and it’s estimated that 2.3 million Australians leave the system running when they’re out, costing $222 million annually.

Turn it off when you’re not at home and at night when you go to bed. You don’t need the same temperature when you’re asleep and the nights are cooler; so open some windows instead to take advantage of any breeze.

3. Cool the Property in other Ways

Although air conditioning may be indispensable when the weather’s really hot, there are cheaper ways to keep the temperature down. One of these is to use the natural shade provided by trees, which can keep the worst of the heat out of your living areas if planted correctly. If you have no trees around your property, awnings can do a comparable job.

Curtains and blinds will have a similar effect because they prevent the interior of rooms heating up too much if they’re closed to prevent the sun entering. Even better are external shutters since the sun is kept from heating the windows.

A fan will also help to cool the property at a fraction of the cost of air conditioning. Although not as effective, a fan is more concentrated on a particular person or area.

4. Keep the Cool Air In

The natural reaction when the weather is hot is to open doors and windows to get air flowing through. If the air conditioning’s on, however, that’s the last thing you should do because the cooled air will escape and be replaced by hot air from outside.

Instead, keep doors and windows firmly closed so the cool air you’ve created will circulate within the property. Good insulation, such as draught-proofed doors and double-glazed windows will also help.

5. Power Off Heat Emitting Devices

We’ve all got gadgets these days and the tendency is to leave most running when not needed. They will continue to use power and to emit heat so it’s good practice to switch off anything you’re not using. This includes televisions, lights, computers and anything that’s not needed.

The biggest culprit is the oven so limit its use. Eat more salads in summer and barbecue outside so you generate less heat inside.

6. Regular Maintenance for Efficient Operation

Like any equipment, your air conditioning will work less well if it’s not properly maintained. At the very least, clean your filters every few weeks because, if they’re clogged with dirt, the system will have to work harder to achieve the right temperature and will use more electricity. Eventually, the system will stop working altogether and the cost of repairs will be much more than if you undertake regular maintenance.

7. Get the Right System

Although we left this point until last, this is probably the most important point of all. While getting a good system from a reputable manufacturer is crucial, it also needs to be the correct size. Too small and it won’t be able to cool the area and will work too hard trying, too big and you’re paying for capacity you don’t need.

At Project HVAC, we’ll ensure you get the perfect system and can maintain it regularly. That way, it will always operate at peak efficiency and keep your costs as low as possible.

How To Choose An Air Conditioner

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Choosing The Right A/C

While having an air conditioner is pretty essential in many parts of Australia, getting the right one is vital. That’s particularly true as you expect the one you buy to be in use for many years so you want to be happy with its performance.

Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice:

The Right Type of System

A split system comprises of an outdoor unit that brings in cooler air and an indoor unit that distributes it. This is the most popular type of system and is suitable for a single room, an open-plan area or a few rooms that are close together.

A variation on this type is a multi-split system that has one outdoor unit and several connected indoor units, which can handle a larger property with several rooms. The most expensive and complex type is a ducted system that connects a central unit to air outlets with sensors in various rooms.

All these systems can be cooling only or may be reverse cycle so they can provide heating as well. Clearly, if you have a separate heating system or live in a warm part of the country, you can save money by going for cooling only.

Wall/window and portable systems are also available but are not as popular or effective.

The Right Size of System

Getting the correct system size will save you money. If it’s too small, it won’t be able to cool the required area and will work too hard trying so may have to be replaced early after incurring excessive energy costs. If it’s too large, you’ll pay for capacity you don’t need and the system may be switching on and off too frequently, causing unnecessary wear.

To ensure you get the right size of system, measure carefully. Calculate the area of each room to be cooled and then choose the appropriate capacity of air conditioner.

A 2-2.5 kW model will handle an area of up to 20 square metres while one of 6-9 kW will cover over 80 square metres. It’s important you get the right size because a smaller model may cost as little as $300 a year to run while the largest will cost twice as much.

Other factors need to be taken into account, such as the:

  • Area of glass in a room and the extent of shading
  • Orientation of each room, since those facing the sun most of the day will need most cooling
  • Local climate and individual needs
  • Amount of insulation, such as double-glazed windows and draught-proofed doors

Choose a model that can at least handle the area you want to cover or a little more. And, if you’re planning to extend the size of your property, allow for that.

Functions Available

All systems will have a number of options, some of which you will not need and will only add to the cost. Look for:

  • The control method – whether via supplied remote that’s easy to use or a Wi-Fi function so you can use an app on your phone; the latter allows you, for example, to turn the system on before you arrive home.
  • Operating modes that may supply heating and cooling automatically depending on the temperature or include an economy mode to reduce energy use.
  • Variable fan settings that affect the speed of cooling as well as noise levels.
  • Sensors that switch the air conditioning on only when movement is detected.
  • Air filters to remove contaminants from the air.
  • Self-cleaning to prevent mould build-up.

Other Considerations

You also need to consider if the system is quiet enough, if it uses ozone-friendly refrigerant, where you will put the units and if a model is suitable for the local climate. It is a lot to think about and it’s easy to overlook something.

At Project HVAC, however, we take great care to ensure our customers get the best system for their individual needs.

We’ll measure and assess, consider every factor and recommend exactly the right system for you. We’ve been doing this a long time so you can be sure you’ll be happy with whatever we install.