Cooling your costs this summer

Record temperatures, power costs on the rise – it looks like summer could be a lot more expensive than usual! At this time of year, nearly half of the energy we use is for cooling. So how can you keep your home cool without sending your electricity bill, or your greenhouse gas emissions, through the roof?

Here’s 10 great tips on ways to keep those cooling costs down so you can really kick back and enjoy the summer months.

Shield your windows

Heat comes straight into your house through your north and west facing windows. Shade them with reflective film on the glass or heavy insulated curtains. You could also consider planting deciduous trees or vines as these give you shade in summer and sun in winter. If one room in your house is hotter than others, shut the door to keep the heat out of the rest of the house.

Open up your house in the evening

Hot air will build up in your house during the day, even if you block out the sun. Open up windows and doors after dark to let the heat out of the house. Cool evening air will replace the built up heat – just remember to get up early to close up again before the sun rises.

Use a thermometer

Many people turn up the air conditioner so that it’s actually cold inside the house, rather than just pleasantly cool. Turning down the air conditioner by just 1 or 2 degrees can reduce your cooling bill by as much as 15%. Thermostats often don’t give you an accurate measure of the temperature in your home, so use a thermometer to get a more accurate reading. We recommend you cool your house to around 26oC for optimal comfort without the huge cooling bill.

Turn on the fan

Air conditioning uses up much more electricity than an ordinary fan. Turn on the fan first and only resort to the air conditioner if it is still above 26oC in your house. Then, use the fan and the air conditioner together – this will move the air around the room better so it’s cooled quicker, saving you money.

Look after your air conditioner

Many of us can’t imagine life without an air conditioner in the Australian summer. To make it run as efficiently as possible, keep the outdoor parts shaded from the sun and clean the filters often. Don’t overtax your air conditioner – it will work more efficiently and cost-effectively if you only cool the room you’re in, so close the doors to the parts of the house you’re not using.

Use a timer

Arriving home to a hot house is never pleasant, and turning up the air conditioner to ‘full’ to blast away the heat will cost you a lot of money. Instead, put your air conditioner on a timer so that it can start to gently cool your living room before you arrive.

Avoid cooking inside the house

Cooking can really heat up your house, particularly the kitchen. Summer evenings are a great excuse for firing up the BBQ. If you don’t have one at your place, consider using the one at the local park. Alternatively, plan some cold meals on those really hot days.

Cool off outdoor paving

Outdoor paving stores the heat from the sun and reflects it back into your home, making your house cool down slower in the evenings. If you have a large area, consider shading it with an awning or sun tolerant plants. Throwing on some waste water can help it cool down more quickly. Also consider replacing it with a drought tolerant lawn.

Invest in some insulation

Insulation keeps your house cool in summer and warm in winter. If your home does not have insulation, then now is a great time to consider getting some – you could cut your energy use by as much as 45% so it could mean a huge saving on your electricity bill this summer. The savings will carry on into the winter too, so you’ll easily recoup the costs over time.

Update your appliances

Did you inherit your fan from grandma? Has the air conditioner in your home been there since 1973? Old appliances use a lot more electricity than the star rated units you can purchase today. Consider replacing very old appliances with a high star rated option that operates more efficiently. Make sure you select the one which is the right size for the area you want to cool – don’t make the mistake of buying the biggest unit you can find as this will negate your savings.

We hope these tips help to make your summer cool and enjoyable! If making your home more liveable requires a bit of a renovation and a financial investment, then have a chat to us about ways to finance your updates. In addition to mortgages, we can help you get financing to fund your projects in a variety of different ways. So contact us to talk about your plans today.

About Paul Brazier