People in some states can expect to pay up to 8.2 per cent more for energy to power their air conditioning units this summer.
New South Wales, South-East Queensland and South Australian households can expect to pay between 1.7 and 8.2 per cent extra on electricity.
This comes after the Australian Energy Regulator released its final determinations for the 2022-23 Default Market Offer.
Heating and cooling accounts for around 40 per cent of a household’s total energy consumption, according to Red Energy. The cost ranges from $0.25 per hour for a small space to more than $3.00 for hour for a reverse-cycle unit that’s ducted to cool your entire house.
It may not sound like much, but that could add up to $500 per week if you’re leaving your unit on all the time through summer.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce your energy bill.
Choose the right air conditioning system
Not all air conditioning units are the same. While they all work to cool your space, they don’t all work in the same way or cost the same to run.
Evaporative coolers work by blowing the air over a film of water on a filter or sponge which cools the sponge and air through evaporation. Outside air is then drawn in and cooled and forced into the house. This type of cooling unit should only be used in low-humidity areas that aren’t susceptible to extreme heat.
Cost: Expect to pay $600-$1,200 to install and then $306-$492 annually to run.
A ducted system can cool and heat an entire home. This type of unit is normally installed in the ceiling or under the floor. These units are both expensive to install and run.
Cost: Expect to pay $8,000-$10,000 to install and then $1-$3.20 per hour to run.
Window air conditioning units normally consist of a single box installed in a window and is most suitable for small spaces of up to 50 square metres. They aren’t as energy efficient to run however they have lower up front costs.
Cost: Expect to pay $4,000-$6,000 to install and then $0.25 to $3 per hour to run.
A wall air conditioning unit consists of an external compressor unit and an internal unit mounted on the wall. One wall unit will be installed in each room. Wall units are great because you can install them individually as you can afford them.
Origin Energy spoke to Really Simple Money and said: “If you’re looking to install a new air conditioner, think about room size, flooring, doors, windows and blinds as well as unit placement.
“All these factors can impact the performance of an air conditioner. And when choosing a new air conditioning unit, it’s important to look out for the energy efficiency rating of new appliances and to consider long-term operating costs as it may be costing you more to run older appliances.”
Set your temperature strategically
Most experts recommend setting your heating temperature to between 18°C and 20°C degrees and your cooling temperature between 25°C and 27°C degrees in summer.
Origin Energy advised: “Air conditioners should be set between 22°C and 24°C in summer – every degree below this recommended range could add 10% to your energy bill.”
Generally speaking, every degree over 20 degrees increases your energy consumption by 10 per cent.
Reverse-cycle air conditioners are the best way to heat and cool your home at the best price possible.
Turn your unit off when you’re not home
Comparison website, Finder energy expert Mariam Gabaji advises: “Steer clear of leaving your aircon on all day – especially when you aren’t home. This is the worst thing you can do for your power bill.
“When your aircon is on keep all doors and windows closed to trap in the cold air or you might as well be throwing money out the window.
“Standby power use can cost the average household around $100 a year.”
Get your unit checked regularly
Get your air conditioning unit checked regularly.
Ms Gabaji says: “It’s also a good idea to have your air con unit checked – older models are less efficient and more costly to run than newer ones – and regularly cleaned to keep it clear of dirt and bacteria that clog the system.”
Consider the times of day you use electricity
The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water says that the time of day you use the most electricity plays a key role in your electricity bill.
Knowing the time of day you use the most electricity can help you choose the right contract based on when you use electricity.
Switching off your air conditioner during peak times, which are from 5pm-9pm, can help you save money.
Take other steps
In winter, before you turn on heating, try a few less energy-intensive options. Opt for thicker bedding, open your curtains during the day, block draughts and cracks with door and window seals. If that’s not quite enough, only heat the rooms you’re using,
Origin Energy said: “You can reduce the temperature inside by as much as three degrees just by using blinds, drapes or window shades to keep the sunlight out. And, window coverings with white surfaces facing outdoors will reflect the sun and do an even better job at keeping heat out.”
In summer, first try to use a fan before an air conditioner and close your curtains to stop the heat getting in. When temperatures drop outside open doors and windows on opposite sides of the room.
Origin Energy agreed: “While the air conditioner may be your first choice when it’s hot outside, opting for a fan can help you keep running costs down. They’re good at cooling specific parts of a room and use less energy. If a fan alone won’t cut it, running a ceiling fan with an air conditioner can help to circulate cool air around the room.”
Ms Gabaji recommends shopping around for a better deal, too. “One of the best ways to save on energy is by switching your energy provider – Finder analysis shows this could save you up to $219 each year.”
They also suggested tracking your usage by using your retailer’s app so you can adjust your usage if you think it’s too high.