CHOICE tips: stay cool for less

CHOICE says that with the cost of running air-conditioners increasing due to rising electricity prices, people can save hundreds of dollars by looking carefully at the size of the area they want to cool, the type of environment they live in and by using energy efficient cooling strategies.

CHOICE tests show large air conditioners are one of the most costly appliances in the home to run, adding approximately $530 to the yearly 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,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just.

CHOICE tests have found ceiling and pedestal fans to be more economical options, costing between $15-$30 (per fan) a year to run. Ceiling fans and portable fans 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 the type of cooling option that will be the most effective,” says Ms Just.

“Doing some research may save you hundreds of dollars, not just in the initial purchase price of an appliance but also in 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 and how many days of heat you can put up with. For example a fan is an economical option to keep a smaller room cool for a few weeks a year. Go to CHOICE’s cooling calculator to estimate if a fan or air-conditioner is going to be best for your space:
  3. Humid environments work better with a split system refridgerative air-conditioner, evaporative air conditioners work better in dryer climates.
  4. Run the air-conditioner at 24-26 degrees. Increasing the thermostat by one degree can save 15% of the air-conditioner’s running costs.

Read more about how to keep your home cool at

NB: Running costs are calculated at 26c/kWh with electricity usage derived from CHOICE product testing 2011-2012.

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