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Keeping cool this summer:

Do some research and consider the best options for cooling before committing hard-earned money.
By Motherpedia
Date: January 24 2013
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With much of Australia experiencing a very hot summer, cooling is hot topic. And despite the temptation to install air-conditioning, consumer advocacy organisation, CHOICE says that may not be the best option in all circumstances.

“People can save hundreds of dollars by looking carefully at the size of the area they want to cool, the environment they live in and by using energy efficient cooling,” says a CHOICE spokesperson.

CHOICE believes this is especially important with rising electricity prices.

Large air conditioners are one of the most costly appliances to run adding approximately $530 to the yearly household electricity bill. Smaller air conditioners cost roughly $290 a year to run.

“The price of an air-conditioner coupled with increasing electricity prices make large units a big ticket item to purchase and very costly to run. However, they work more efficiently if you can prevent your house from getting too hot in the first place - use shading and insulation,” according to CHOICE.

Ceiling and pedestal fans are a much more economical option, costing between $15-$30 (per fan) a year to run. They work best in homes that make good use of cross ventilation and have carefully planted trees and bushes to help channel breezes towards the house.

“Everyone’s circumstances are different and no two rooms are exactly the same. Think about the type of house or flat you live in, the size of the area you want to keep cool and whether you live in a dry or humid environment. These factors can influence what type of cooling option is going to be most effective,” advises CHOICE.

“Doing some research could save hundreds of dollars, not just in the initial cost but also in the yearly running costs.”

CHOICE’s tips for choosing the right type of cooling option and keeping running costs to a minimum:

  1. Prevent your house from getting too hot - use shading, ventilation, insulation.
  2. Consider the size of the area you want to cool. A fan is an economical option to keep a smaller room cool for a few weeks a year. Go to CHOICE’s cooling calculator at www.choice.com.au/coolingcalculator
  3. Don’t be tempted to install air-conditioning on the basis of the unusually frequent and very high temperatures this summer, unless that is the best option for your home. It may be more cost effective to spend a 35 degree plus day in an office, a shopping centre, a cinema, a library or some other public building which is air-conditioned.
  4. Humid environments work better with split system refrigerative air-conditioners; evaporative air conditioners work better in dryer climates. 
  5. Run the air-conditioner at 24-26 degrees. Increasing the thermostat by one degree can save 15% on running costs.
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