When the weather warms up it’s only natural for us to look for ways to keep cool.
But sometimes we’re not as smart about it as we could be.
Here are some relatively simple and inexpensive things you can do to keep your cool through the warmer months, while saving energy.
#1 – Use your windows well
Take advantage of any cooler nights by turning off your cooling system and opening your windows. In the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air inside.
#2 – Go blind
You might love looking out the window, but in the heat of the day, you really should have the blinds or curtains closed to reduce the heat being gained through those usually useful but now quite pesky panes of glass. If you can, get blinds or curtains with a reflective surface for the most sun-facing windows to reduce the impact of the hot sun even more.
#3 – Get your garden working
Aussies worship north-facing homes that can make the most of the light and warmth year-round, but did you know that you can save a substantial amount on your summer energy bills by planting shade trees to offer some protection from the harsh sun?
#4 – No time to be icy
Just because you come in from the outside heat feeling, well, hot, you don’t need to crank up the air-con to make you cold. You just want to be less hot. You only need to set the temperature between 25 and 27°C … and you only have to run it when you’re there and it’s too hot for comfort without it.
#5 – Isolate your thermostat
If your air-conditioner is controlled by a thermostat, make sure it’s not in the hottest room and don’t place lamps or any other heat-generating appliances nearby.
#6 – Keep it clean
As well as regular maintenance for your cooling equipment, make sure you thoroughly clean any filters or covers a couple of times a year. A build up of dust and grime is enough to make your air conditioner a lot less efficient, therefore costing more to run while doing a worse job of cooling!
Oh, and if your air conditioner has a compressor that sits outside, try to provide it with some shade, because if it’s sitting in full sun it has to work harder.
#7 – Fan yourself properly
A ceiling fan lets you run your air-conditioner at a higher temperature with no reduction in comfort, because the moving air makes you feel cooler. But keep in mind that fans cool people, not rooms, so turn off the ceiling fan when you leave the room.
#8 – Heat your water less
You can be excused for wanting nice hot water to help get your body moving in the depths of winter, but you don’t need it to be as hot in summer, so turn down the temperature on your water heater (remember water heating accounts for around 20% of the energy consumed in your home).
#9 – Avoid the oven
Firing up your oven won’t make your air conditioner’s job any easier, so explore more microwave cooking, using the barbecue (it’s already hot enough outside), and
#10 – Shelve some appliances
OK, putting them away for summer is too much to ask, but at least minimise using things that generate heat, including desktop computers, hairdryers and curling irons, dishwashers, even TVs. A lot of lighting falls into this category, too, as a lot of the energy used to power your lights is actually turned into heat.
#11 – Shut some doors
Close as many doors as you can, especially to little-used rooms. If you can cool your bedrooms down overnight by opening windows, in the morning close the windows, pull down the blinds or close the curtains, and close the doors, because there’s really no need to cool them using the air conditioning during the day.
#12 – Go old school
Don’t get into the habit of turning on an electricity-powered cooling appliance – be it an air conditioner or fan – without considering the need. On days that aren’t too swelteringly hot, wet a hand towel and put it around your neck. You might be pleasantly surprised how comfortable that is as a low-tech alternative way to cool your body temperature!