For Melburnians, summer means nights that stay lighter for longer, beach, BBQs, and friends. It’s really one of the best times of the year (we’ll choose to ignore Melbourne’s fluctuating temperatures and summer thunderstorms).
Along with warm weather, though, comes the uncomfortable nights of high temperatures as we toss and turn in bed wondering how we’re ever going to get good quality sleep through a 22-degree overnight low.
While during the hottest (and arguably best) time of the year we send out cooling units into overdrive, we can help but notice how those power bills creep up. Do we deal with the extra cost in order to remain cool? Or do we suffer through heat but keep our bills lower? Thankfully, there’s more than these two options.
Find out how you can save electricity this summer without sacrificing comfort.
Reduce unnecessary energy leaks
The reality is that “phantom” devices waste electricity while serving no real purpose.
Reduce this wasted leakage by:
- Turning off the television power point overnight
- Turning lamps on and off by their power points
- Unplugging the phone charger when it’s not being used
- Switching off lights and making use of natural light as often as possible
Use fans in conjunction with your air conditioning
Last month we wrote about the ways in which ceiling fans work with your air conditioning unit to better circulate cool air, quickly enhancing the comfort of a room. By pushing cool air that’s expelled from your unit downwards – towards you – a ceiling fan doesn’t necessarily change the temperature of a room, but changes how cool the room feels.
When the fan’s wind chill effect evaporates moisture on your skin, you feel cooler, even if the temperature hasn’t fallen.
Using ceiling fans cleverly means you can turn your thermostat up, reducing the strain on your air con unit (the same principle also applies in winter). Read the full blog post here.
Switch to off-peak electricity use
Many electrical companies offer discounts when electricity is consumed during off-peak hours. Off-peak hours are those where less people are consuming energy, for example overnight (10pm-7am). A more varied pricing structure can help you reduce your electricity consumption and therefore your power bills.
Off-peak times and discounts will depend on:
- Your electrical company
- Your location
- Your meter type
Some electrical companies also offer automatic discounts when you pay your bill on time – a great incentive that requires no extra input from you!
Check your thermostat
Chances are, especially during a really hot Melbourne day, you’ve turned your thermostat really low with the intention of not only cooling your home down, but cooling it down quickly.
But did you know that this technique doesn’t actually increase the speed in which your home cools down? All this does is add unnecessary strain on your air con unit.
Instead, find your comfortable temperature and then try this: set the temperature just one degree higher than you normally would. This slight change can cut cooling costs by 10 per cent!
Patch up gaps in windows and doors
Just like we try to stop warm air escaping and cool air entering during a cold winter, we must consider the same during summer.
What’s the use of all that lovely cool air if half of it is escaping through a draughty door, while warm air continues to seep in?
Embrace natural ventilation (and use your curtains)
This one’s pretty straightforward but you’d be surprised to learn how many people simply don’t bother with it:
- When (and if) it cools down overnight, open secure windows and turn off your cooling system.
- When you wake in the morning and before the temperature starts to climb, shut the windows to trap the fresh and cool air.
This technique may help you prolong turning on your air conditioning unit until later on in the day.
In summer, the sun can quickly heat a room. You know that feeling when you get up early in the morning and already feel warm? You think to yourself that today’s going to be a scorcher. That’s your cue to close the curtain and prevent the sun from heating up your home faster that it needs to.
Save electricity and reduce heat build up
It’s often impossible to consider that we could survive a day without using at least a couple of electrical appliances. But think of all the ones you could use in a typical day. How many could you curb? They all contribute to a warmer home.
- Lighting (simple: turn lights off at every possible opportunity, and consider switching to LED)
- Washing machines and dryers (try line drying clothes in warmer weather instead)
- Oven (we joke that during winter this acts as a mini fireplace, so you can imagine the heat it expels during summer temperatures)
- Hairdryers and heat styling tools (they can quickly heat a room, especially a confined space like the bathroom)
When showering, always use the bathroom fan to remove heat and humidity. A bathroom fan is an example of “spot ventilation”, much like a fan above a stovetop.
So there you have it. Seven tips to help reduce your energy consumption during a hot Melbourne summer. Most of these tips can be implemented immediately with little effort, so start now and keep cool for the remainder of summer.