How to run your air conditioner without it costing you a fortune

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I’ve been so thankful for our air conditioned home this weekend. Well actually, I’m grateful for our cool home throughout summer thanks to our ducted air conditioner. Brisbane has been hot and humid all weekend and the temperatures are going to be similar all week.

Our air conditioner runs 24/7 from the end of November to about the end of March.

Hence our need to install solar panels to compensate our electricity costs in the summer months.

If you don’t have panels and are trying to save money on your electricity bills, turning on the air conditioner may be a battle of comfort over your wallet. But I’m going to explain some ways on how to run your air conditioner without it costing you a fortune.

First up is maintenance. Whether you have a ducted air conditioner or split system, both require to be serviced once a year. This ensures that the air conditioner is running efficiently and can prevent problems occurring when you need to use the air conditioner. Most people don’t get their air conditioners serviced which means they may not be working as efficiently as they could be.

Our maintenance service includes checking the ducts, motor, fan, and vent. It’s best to book this service in Autumn or Spring which is the non-peak demand for air conditioning services. A service to your unit ensures it is ready for use during winter and summer.

The vent needs to be cleaned every 3 months or sooner if it's clogged with dust
The vent needs to be cleaned every 3 months or sooner if it’s clogged with dust

Once a quarter the vent needs to be hosed down to get rid of the dust and whatever gets caught in the fibres. We used to use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust, but this ruined the wool fibres in the vent and we ended up having to buy a new one. Once the vent is hosed, leave it outside to dry completely before putting back inside.

The second tip is temperature control. Keep the temperature at a constant 24 degrees. The cooler the temperature, the harder the air conditioner has to work to maintain a lower temperature. Also ensure that windows are covered to keep the cool air in and heat out.

Maintain the temperature to 24 degrees.
Maintain the temperature to 24 degrees.

Thirdly, my next tip is one that many Australians get wrong every time they turn their air conditioner on and I have tested this theory myself to prove that it does work.

Turn your air conditioner on in the morning BEFORE the house starts to heat up. Most people wait until they can’t bear the heat, by which time their house is like an oven and the air conditioner needs to work hard, drawing more power than normal to get the temperature down in the house. If you start the air conditioner in the morning, it won’t need to work so hard to maintain a cool temperature. In weeks like what we have recently experienced in Brisbane, I would be keeping the air conditioner on 24/7 until the weather starts to cool down. But that’s just me.

I accidentally tested this theory when I had Esther. Before children, Jacob and I would turn the air conditioner off before we left for work on a morning and then turn it back on at night when we came back from work. Our house would be so hot and stuffy when we got home from work!

When we had Esther, I had the air conditioner on all the time and rarely had it off in summer. I remember being scared about opening our electricity bill and was surprised to see that there was at least a $200 difference less on that current bill to the same period in the previous year. Our maintenance serviceman later confirmed our unit used less power if our house was already cool.

I’ve mentioned before that installing solar panels is a great way to offset electricity costs on your home. If you can’t afford solar panels, what about installing a solar paneled air conditioner? The air conditioner feeds off the panels installed on your roof which means it hardly impacts your electricity bill when you use it. It’s something to keep in mind if you are looking to install an air conditioner.

Do you use an air conditioner during summer? How do you keep your home cool during periods of intense heat?

I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.