Summers are getting hotter and lasting longer. So, what can you do to beat the heat in your home and stay cool without blowing the budget on electricity costs?
There are a range of ways you can stay cool this summer – some natural and some that need electricity to power them.
Simple Ways to Stay Cool
Preventing the heat from getting into your house in the first place is the key to staying cool:
- Close your windows once the outside temperature is more than the inside temperature.
- Keep your curtains and blinds closed during the day.
- At night, when the temperature drops, open your windows to let the hot air out.
- Swap out your halogen bulbs for energy efficient LEDs. Halogens generate a lot of heat in homes and battle any other cooling process you put in place.
- Add a whirly bird to your roof to help trapped roof cavity heat be It also helps increase the effectiveness of your insulation (provided you don’t have the sort that blows about in a breeze).
- Use the BBQ rather than your oven. There’s a reason outdoor BBQs are brilliant in summer – they keep the heat out of your home. Clean off the BBQ and get outdoors!
- Clothes dryers also put out a lot of heat. Use your clothes line wherever possible. If you need to use a clothes dryer, don’t use them during the hottest part of the day.
- Create an instant evaporative cooler in your home by drying your clothes on a portable clothes line in front of a fan.
- Add a pergola or shade sail on the western side of your home.
- Dress for the temperature. Safari suits may look dumb, but they are better than a three-piece suit in Brisbane. Bring back the safari suit we say! Seriously, wear light cool clothing and not jeans around the house.
- Zone your house. Only cool the rooms you are using, and keep the doors shut in the rooms you are not to trap the heat in them.
- Turn your air-conditioning off when you leave your home. It costs less to cool your house down than keep it running while you are out. If you need to keep it running, turn the temperature up by a few degrees when you leave and then readjust down when you return.
- Put your wheat packs in the freezer, along with some damp face washers or hand towels. When cool, drape them over the back of your neck.
How you open your windows matters if you are trying to catch a breeze. Breezes don’t blow through a building. They are sucked towards areas of low pressure.
To draw the breeze through your house, only partially open your windows on the breezy side of your house (about 50% for sliding windows) and fully open on the non-breezy side of your house.
If you have louvre windows, don’t have them pointing to the ceiling. You want any air to push down to the floor, so point your louvres slightly downward.
Fans and ceiling fans are a budget-friendly way to stay cool. They work by creating a breeze on your skin, which increases evaporation and make you feel cooler.
Desk or pedestal fans are simple to use and need minimal assembly. Just plug them in and away you go. Remember, these sorts of fans don’t cool the room, so turn them off when you are not directly in front of them.
Ceiling fans are almost essential in Brisbane. They increase the flow of air through the house, help capitalise on any night breeze as well as helping with personal cooling.
Modern ceiling fans are quieter than older models, come in a range of stylish finishes and can have lights installed for double duty.
A huge plus is that fans are very cheap to run, adding only a few cents per day to your electricity bill.
Insulation works! It keeps your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. If your roof is not insulated, you are throwing money away.
If your home is particularly hot, you can get special insulating roof paint that reflects a large percentage of the heat. The only downside is that it will keep your home cooler in winter as well.
If you are renting, or can’t afford a full split system, there are portable air conditioners available on the market.
Portable units are relatively new on the market and have some pluses as well as a load of drawbacks.
The thing to know is that portable does not mean portable in any normal definition of the word. Units weigh in at over 30kg and are often over a metre high and half a metre wide. They are not easy to wheel around, and they need a window nearby to connect your hot air exhaust.
From an electricity standpoint, you are advised not to use extension cords with them and in many cases using an extension cord will void your warranty.
They are very noisy as the compressor is inside the room with you, tend to chew through electricity like kids at a lolly jar and need regular draining otherwise you end up with a lovely puddle of water on your carpet.
Do your homework before you buy as not all portables are the same, with costs ranging from $300 to $1500. If you are a member of Choice, it pays to check out their portable air conditioning review guide before you buy.
Split System Air-Conditioners
Call us biased, but we love split system air-conditioners. They are cheaper to run than many other types of air conditioners, quieter and more powerful.
Split system units are wall mounted units that are mounted high up on your walls to maximise cooling. Your air conditioner is connected to an outside compressor unit to keep the noise and heat outside your home. Unlike other types of air conditioners, split systems can be used to cool multiple rooms or an open plan area.
Some of the higher priced units include extras such as motion sensors that only allow the unit to operate when someone is in the room and air ionisers to help eliminate airborne bacteria.
The challenge is that you need to get the right sized system to suit your room.
Get one that is too small, and it will constantly be running on full power trying to cool your room down (and chewing through your electricity and wearing your machine out).
Get one that is too big, and it will constantly be starting and stopping trying to keep the temperature balanced. This is like you revving your engine to hit maximum speed and then slamming on your brakes to stop, before racing off again. If you do this with your air conditioner, not only does this give you an uneven cool and dehumidification but it also increases your power usage and damages your system.
It pays to get advice on the right sized air conditioner for your room, so you don’t under or over size it. The air-conditioner size can be affected by the size of the room, whether it’s a westerly wall, whether there’s insulation and a host of other factors. You need an expert to make everything is taken into account.
Remember, that every degree cooler you set your thermostat can add 10% to your electricity bill, so keep it at 23 or 23C.
Also, remember to clean your air conditioner filter at the beginning of summer as dust build-up reduces the efficiency of your system.
Want to stay cool? Call TMOT
Tradesmen on Time can advise you on the best cooling system for your home. We supply and fit ceiling fans and split system air conditioners for all types of homes – from high-set to modern brick.
We supply and install trusted air conditioning brands such as Mitsubishi and Fujitsu, or we can install air conditioners that you buy yourself.
You can also call us to maintain your air conditioners for you, to keep them in tip top condition all year around.