6 simple tricks to reduce air conditioner costs this summer

Having your house cooled by an air conditioner will give you some relief from the hot weather, but it's probably leaving you with a high electricity bill. Source: Getty

It’s been a stifling summer for many of us. Whether you live in the south of the country where the dry heat leaves you burnt to a crisp, or in the north where the humidity makes you sweat up a storm, having some cool relief in the house is always appreciated.

After weeks of frequent air conditioning use, many Australians are now being hit with steep electricity bills. Thankfully, there are a few simple ways to reduce your power usage and see out the rest of summer in more budget-savvy comfort.

1. Switch to dry mode

The most effective strategy is one of the most widely overlooked.

Instead of automatically turning on the air conditioner to cool mode and letting the cold air breeze out, you can try using dry mode.  You will find this setting on the remote of some – not all – air conditioners, with a symbol of a water droplet, while the cool mode is generally depicted with a snowflake.

Unlike cool mode which blows out refreshingly cold air, dry mode works by reducing the temperature in a room by lowering the humidity. As air in the room passes through the aircon, the water vapour condenses on the evaporator, acting like a dehumidifier.

While it’s not actively cooling the area, the reduction in humidity will make the room feel colder. This setting is particularly helpful for those living in the northern parts of Australia where humidity is present.

2. Don’t overdo it on the temperature

Setting your air conditioner to a chilly 18 degrees will certainly make the house feel like a freezer but it could be the reason for the sky-high bill. An air conditioner will use more electricity if it’s working harder, meaning the lower the temperature is, the more you are likely to pay.

According to consumer review and comparison website Canstar Blue, the standard air conditioner temperature should be set between 25 and 27 degrees for cooling in summer. Despite this, Finder research revealed most Aussie households set the aircon to 22 degrees.

This is concerning given every degree of cooling increases your costs by around 10 per cent.

3. Clean the air conditioner regularly

It sounds like a tedious task, but cleaning out the air conditioner filter regularly will help it to pump out the cool air. Just like vacuum cleaners, dirt and dust can get clogged in the device, and prevent it from doing its job properly.

This usually results in you turning the temperature down, because you’re not feeling the room get cooler. And alas, this is where the electricity bill sky-rockets.

4. Switch off appliances and time your cooking carefully

While keeping all of your electronics plugged in and switched on makes things easier when you return home after a busy day out, you could unintentionally be making your house warmer than it needs to be. Electronic devices such as televisions and computers use plenty of power and often become very warm.

Cooking up a storm in the kitchen on a hot summer’s day is probably not the best idea. Ovens and stove tops let off a lot of heat, which can quickly spread throughout the house.

While you shouldn’t completely avoid using these items, try and limit your usage or turn them on at times of the day that are the coolest, like early in the morning or late at night.

5. Turn it off when you’re out

While seemingly obvious, a surprisingly large number of Australians ignore this advice. Finder figures reveal that around 2.3 million households across the country are leaving their air conditioner on when nobody’s home, for an average of one hour per day — adding up to a loss of around $200 million nationally — just because they want it cooler when they return home.

6. Keep the curtains and blinds closed

It’s probably something your parents told you to do as a child before heading off to school on a hot summer’s day, but keeping all the curtains and blinds closed will definitely keep the temperature down. Hanging them close to the window will prevent the sun from streaming through, while lighter coloured curtains and blinds will reflect the bright rays the most.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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