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Cooling tips and hints

There are many easy and economical ways to make your home cool and comfortable without air conditioning:

  • insulate your ceiling and walls where possible
  • draught proof doors and windows and seal gaps and cracks around your home to stop warm air entering
  • shade and protect windows, particularly those facing west, east and north
  • allow good ventilation of the home to expel warm air later in the day when outside temperatures drop.
  • landscape to protect the home from summer sun and hot winds.

Operating evaporative coolers and air conditioners efficiently can significantly reduce energy use, running costs and greenhouse pollution. Simple measures such as reducing the size of the area to be cooled, checking your thermostat settings and maintaining your system as recommended by the manufacturer can make a difference. See the tips below for simple ways to save energy and money.

Evaporative coolers

  • During winter ducted units on the roof should have covers placed over them and ceiling vents should be closed to stop heat loss. Alternatively, consider purchasing a unit with a motorised self-closing winter seal.
  • On hot days, keep the fan running on its highest setting for maximum cooling effectiveness.
  • Ensure doors and windows are kept open in rooms being cooled.
  • Reduce heat gain by opening windows and doors on the opposite side of the house to the hot prevailing winds where possible.
  • On days of high humidity, turn off the water supply to the cooler and run the fan only.
  • For central systems, purchase a roof cover to enclose the external unit over winter. Covers should also be placed over ceiling vents to stop warm air being lost through them.
  • Maintain and service your cooler in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure air filters are cleaned regularly.
  • Water consumption for evaporative coolers depends on the natural humidity of the day. A portable unit might use four litres per hour while a central system could use as much as 25 litres per hour.
  • Ensure ducting is free of air leaks—escaping cool air will only serve your roof space instead of the inside of your home.
  • If your unit has a timer, consider using it to switch the system off when cooling is not required, e.g. in the early hours of the morning.

Air conditioners

  • If your air conditioner is exposed to full sun during the day, provide it with shade from an awning, shade mesh, or a similar structure. Be careful not to restrict air movement around the unit.
  • Multi-speed fans allow you to select high speeds for fast circulation and quick cooling.
  • Adjustable and rotating louvres also help to direct air movement more evenly around the room.
  • Directional louvres set either horizontally or upwards toward the ceiling assist in cooling.
  • Programmable timers allow the system to be switched on or off as required.
  • Thermostats should be set between 25–27°C. Every 1°C lower can increase running costs by up to 15%.
  • Turn your system on only when it is needed. Don’t leave it running overnight or when you are out during the day as this is inefficient and uneconomical.
  • Install a timer for portable, window/wall or split systems or use a programmable thermostat (available for many split and central systems) to turn your unit on and off automatically. Plug-in timers can be purchased cheaply from hardware and electronic stores.
  • Use the economy setting if your system has one. This setting reduces energy use by maintaining moderate rather than cold temperatures in appropriate conditions.
  • Keep the area you are cooling to a minimum by closing doors to other rooms not requiring cooling.
  • Always keep doors and windows closed when using reverse-cycle air conditioners. Close drapes and blinds to help keep out the sun.
  • Maintain and service your air conditioner in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to keep it operating effectively. In particular, ensure filters are cleaned regularly.
  • Use portable or ceiling fans wherever possible—they are much cheaper to run than air conditioners.
  • Use the zoning options of a central system to cool only the rooms you are using.
  • Where possible, choose an air conditioner with a variable speed compressor or inverter drive - these systems are more energy efficient and will help to keep running costs to a minimum.
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