Melbourne is renowned for its dry and humid summers. When the mercury reaches the high 30s, it’s tempting to run the air conditioner 24 hours a day to keep cool. Unfortunately, the more we use our cooling systems, the more expensive our electricity bill is going to be! The same thing applies to heating systems in winter.
You shouldn’t have to overpay your energy provider just to stay comfortable in the height of summer and the depth of winter! That’s why we’ve put together 14 simple tips to save money on your heating and air conditioning.
In this article, we will cover:
Take control of your energy consumption and help your heating and cooling to work smarter, not harder. Check out our simple and sometimes surprising tips for saving money on heating and cooling.
It might not feel like it, but the sun is still out there on a cold winter day. If you feel like your heater is working too hard, simply ask Mother Nature to do some of the heavy lifting.
When the sun is shining on your home, throw open the shutters, pull back the drapes and blinds, and push aside your curtains. The surface temperature of the sun clocks in at more than 5000°C and letting just a bit of that into your home can work wonders. If your house is well insulated, it will retain some of that heat – even when the sun has set for the day. This passive heat gain is invaluable for reducing your energy costs.
When it’s a bitter 5°C outside, it can be tempting to blast the heater to 25°C or more! However, you should really focus on setting your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature. After all, you want your home to be pleasant, not a sauna.
Setting your temperature carefully will also result in greater energy savings. In fact, every degree you shave off will reduce your energy bill by approximately 3%. If you set your temperature to 18°C or even 20°C, you can take 15% off your electricity or gas bill.
Another temperature trap to avoid is setting a high temperature to heat the home faster. Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually work and just results in higher energy bills!
Draught excluders and weather strips can be applied to doors, windows, and other areas to prevent cold draughts from entering your home. As well as keeping the cold out, draught excluders will also keep the heat in. This prevents heat loss and helps your home maintain a warmer temperature overall, meaning your heater doesn’t need to work nearly as hard!
Insulation is critically important to lowering your energy bills, but it comes in more forms than you might think. As well as the stuff that goes in your walls and roof cavity, everyday items can also act as insulators. Do you have bare hardwood floors or limited underfloor insulation? Covering up your floor with carpet and rugs can increase your home insulation, improve heat retention, and lower your heating bills.
Portable space heaters tend to be incredibly energy hungry. While they have cheaper initial costs, they will put added stress on your electricity bills in the long term.
Some of the leading options you should consider for home heating include:
Some of these systems have more complex installation requirements, such as ducted systems or hydronic systems. However, a split system can be installed with just a little bit of effort, making it a great energy-efficient alternative to a portable heater.
If you want to maintain effective heating while keeping your energy bills down, one easy thing you can do is replace your filters regularly. The filters in your heater trap airborne particles and keep the air clean. Over time, the air filters will clog up, making your system work harder.
During periods of peak energy usage, you should clean or replace filters approximately once a month to keep your bills low and your heating performance high.
That’s right – we’re telling you to turn on a fan in winter, but only if your fan has a reverse mode.
Many modern ceiling fans come with a reverse or winter mode, which reverses the way the blades spin. Instead of pushing cold air down, your ceiling fan will now suck cold air upwards. At the same time, it will push down the warm air that has gathered on your ceiling and distribute it throughout your room.
Ceiling fans typically use the same or less electricity than a lightbulb, so running two appliances can actually be more cost-efficient than running just one. The ceiling fan will make your heater more efficient, creating constant and consistent comfort for less.
Just make sure it’s a ceiling fan (not a pedestal fan) and that it’s in reverse mode!
During the height of a hot summer day, it feels like you’ll never turn your air conditioning off! But most of the time, your home will cool down once the sun has set. Once you’re sound asleep for the night, you probably won’t even notice the heat.
Using your cooling system’s timer function, you can set your AC to automatically switch off at cooler times. You can set the timer for one hour before you go to bed to help you get to sleep. Another option is putting the air conditioning on a timer during the hottest part of the day. You can put it on a timer for a few hours, so it automatically switches off when the temperature begins to drop in the late afternoon.
By using the timer function, you can reduce your usage and lower your electricity bills without having to worry about manually switching off your system.
Other advanced features can also help you in this way. Wi-Fi controls let you switch off your cooler even after you’ve left the house, and programmable thermostats with eco settings let you run your cooler with more of a focus on economical operation.
If you want to run your system economically without having to think about it, these features are definitely worth investigating!
While it might feel like it, you don’t need an artic breeze to stay cool in summer.
The general rule is that your system shouldn’t be more than 8 degrees below the outdoor temperature. The lower the set temperature is, the harder your AC will have to work and the more expensive it will be to run. Bumping up your system by just a few degrees will stop it from using so much electricity while still keeping you cool and comfortable.
For energy savings and optimum comfort, we recommend keeping your cooling system between 24°C and 27°C in summer.
Maintaining your air conditioner will directly contribute to keeping down your energy costs. A dirty cooling system costs a lot more to run simply because it’s not able to perform efficiently. Check the filters and regularly clean the unit. This way, your air conditioner will keep you cool effectively and save you money.
If you have refrigerated air conditioning, it’s important to keep your windows and doors closed while the system is running. Refrigerated air conditioners cool the current air in your space. Opening the doors and windows lets in hot air and allows nature to fight back against your cooler, causing it to work harder. As well as closing doors and windows, you can also use blinds and curtains for additional insulation and further efficiency.
It’s important to note that this rule does not apply to evaporative cooling systems. Evaporative units cool the outside air in cycles, meaning they are always bringing new air into your home. For these systems to be effective, doors and windows will need to remain open.
If you have a pedestal fan or a ceiling fan, use it to regulate your air conditioner usage. Fans help to circulate cool air, meaning they can spread the cold air of the AC further. You can even turn off your air conditioner for a while when the temperature is cool enough, and the fan will keep circulating that cold air!
As we stated in the heating section, many fans use as little electricity as a lightbulb, making them incredibly energy efficient. For this reason, alternating between a fan and your air conditioner can drastically reduce your electricity bill.
When using a fan in summer, just remember two important things:
Turning on your cooler before the peak heat hits will minimise strain on your system and reduce cooling costs. After all, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to reach 25 degrees if the starting temperature is 28 and not 38!
If you’re in for a hot one, consider switching on your air conditioner a bit earlier in the day. Similarly, you can leave your windows open on a cool night to prepare for hot weather the next day. If your home is well insulated, it will retain some of that coolness and give your air conditioner a lower starting temperature to work with.
Sometimes your cooling system will be working against you despite your best efforts. If this is the case, your air conditioner is probably inefficient and needs replacing. Air conditioners in Australia are rated based on an Energy Star Rating System. The more stars a system has, the more energy-efficient it is and the lower your cooling costs should be.
As well as the energy rating, also ensure your air conditioner isn’t too large or small. Undersized systems will have to work too hard while oversized systems will consume more energy than they need. In both cases, this will result in unnecessarily high energy bills!
Need more advice on air conditioning maintenance and running costs? Want to install a new heating system in your home? Beat the heat in summer and the chill in winter with Australian Climate Systems.
Our heating and cooling experts can help you with all your system needs, including selecting the right system and professionally installing it in the best location. We’re also here for all your maintenance and repair requirements.