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Cooling Your Home

Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider


Cooling your home can be tricky because air conditioning can cool the home, but can be very expensive. How can you cool your home without breaking the bank? Here are some ideas that will cool the home and save money.

  1. Natural cooling
  2. Types of air conditioning systems
  3. The size of an air conditioning system matters
  4. Save money while cooling your home

Natural cooling

Air conditioning can be expensive because it has to fight hot air coming into the home. The hot air can come from a variety of sources:

  • Direct light through a window will heat the home
  • Poor insulation will allow heat into the home
  • Dark walls absorb heat and transfer it into the home
  • Lack of ventilation

All of these problems can be overcome. If you have direct sunlight pouring into the home through a window or door, consider installing awnings. Retractable awnings may be a good idea because you can adjust them and allow light to enter the home during the winter when the weather is colder.

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Poor insulation is like wasting money on air conditioning. An air conditioning system can't compete with heat coming into the home. Much of that heat may come down through the roof or if the sun strikes the side of the house, the heat will come into the home. It will be worse if the sun strikes dark exterior walls. Light colours will reflect the heat away from the home, but dark colours will absorb the heat and transfer it into the home.

  • Lack of ventilation can be another problem and may force you to use air conditioning on days when a cool breeze could cool the home. Some ways you can ventilate the home include:
  • Finding ways to use cross ventilation to bring cooler air into the home and expel hot air
  • Ceiling fans cost a fraction of the cost of air conditioning and can be perfect when the temperature is not too high
  • If you can expel hot air through the ceiling, your home can be cooler. One way to do this is to install a skylight that can open

Finding ways to naturally cool your home will cost money in the short term, but will save money in the longer term because your air conditioning won't be working too hard to keep the home cool. Good interior ventilation will reduce air conditioning costs since you won't have to use air conditioning every day in the hot summer months.

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Types of air conditioning systems

What type of air conditioning system should you choose? Some of the options include:

  • Portable air conditioning may be appropriate for a small apartment or room
  • Window or wall air conditioning can cool a single room
  • Split system air conditioners are more effective than bulky window or wall units
  • Ducted air conditioning can be either air conditioning alone or reverse cycle air conditioning, which both heats and cools the home
  • Evaporative coolers use water to cool air and the air is pumped into the home

Portable air conditioners are not a good idea for a large space because they will only cool the surrounding air, but not touch the rest of the room. They can be expensive to run, but can be more efficient than larger units in a small space. Window or wall air conditioners can be effective, but only for a single room and they are bulky. A better choice may be a split system air conditioner, which has an outdoor unit connected to an indoor cooling unit.

Ducted air conditioners can be a great way to cool the home, but can also be expensive to run. Better ducted air conditioners can be closed off in some rooms to save energy. Also look at the Star rating on any ducted air conditioning unit. The higher the Star rating, the more efficient the air conditioner will be and you will definitely save money if you choose an air conditioner with a high Star rating over one with a low Star rating. Today, air conditioning can have up to 10 Stars and any air conditioner over six Stars will be far more efficient than one with a lower Star rating.

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Because evaporative coolers use water to cool air, they can be a problem in a humid climate because the air will become even more humid. In a dry climate, an evaporative cooler may be ideal, but you may need to ventilate the room to allow moist air to escape. One advantage to evaporative coolers is that they are less expensive to run than other types of air conditioners. For more information, read What is Ducted Evaporative Air Conditioning -- Ultimate Guide.

The size of an air conditioning system matters

When buying an air conditioning system, the size of the system is going to matter and getting the right size for the interior space will save money. The reason is because a system that is too small for the area will have to work harder and cost more money. While a system that is the right size for an area may cost a little more than a smaller system, you will save more money over time by buying the right size air conditioning unit.

These are some general guidelines for choosing the right size for your home:

  • 9m2 rooms should have a 2.5 to 3.2KW system
  • 25m2 rooms should have a 3.5 to 4.3KW system
  • 30m2 areas should have a 3.5 to 3.7KW system
  • 45m2 areas should have a 6.0 to 7.2KW system
  • 55m2 areas should have an 8.0 to 10.00KW system

If you have high ceilings, you may need a higher capacity air conditioning system and an air conditioning expert can suggest the right size for a room with high ceilings. Also bear in mind that not all rooms in the house will be the same size. Get a system that can cool the largest room in the house and use a zoned system that allows you to turn off the air conditioning in rooms you are not using. There is no sense in cooling a bedroom if it is not being used.

Save money while cooling your home

Natural cooling methods can slash air conditioning costs. Another way to lower costs is to turn up the thermostat on your air conditioning. How cool does the room have to be? By turning up the thermostat just a couple of degrees, you can potentially save 10 to 15 percent on energy bills for every degree you turn up the air conditioning.

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Some other ways you can make the most of your air conditioning include:

  • The placement can be important: if a unit is in front of furniture, it might cool the furniture, but not the house
  • Air conditioning units should be serviced regularly to ensure they are working properly and efficiently
  • Turn off lights and make sure sunlight is not streaming through the windows
  • Use a fan instead of air conditioning when the weather is not too hot
  • If you have ducted air conditioning, you may need to have the ducts periodically cleaned

Ultimately, relying on air conditioning alone to cool your home can be an expensive and possibly unhealthy way to keep your home cool. Look for natural cooling methods and try not to rely on air conditioning every day. Your pocketbook will thank you and you will feel healthier if you use natural cooling methods as often as possible. Save the air conditioning for very hot days and don't make the house too cool. Find the middle ground and save money while still being comfortable in the home.

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