With much of Australia in the grips of a rolling heatwave, many people are turning to air-conditioning in a bid to stay cool. But with air-conditioning use one of the main drivers of electricity bills over summer, how you manage your use can have a significant impact on your bill.
To help people better understand and manage their electricity use, in November 2018 mozo.com.au conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,001 Australians aged 18 years and over. The survey found the nation’s addiction to air-conditioning could cost Australians almost $2 billion over summer and uncovered some of the guilty habits draining Aussie budgets.
Indulgent aircon habits
When it comes to indulgent habits that are costing Aussies the most, leaving the air-conditioning on overnight so you can sleep under a doona - a habit for 42% of responders - was an expensive way to get through summer, costing households $436.80 over 12 weeks. Applied across the nation, running an air-conditioner for eight hours a day, seven days a week might see Aussie households fork out a staggering $1.53 billion to keep cool under the covers.
Leaving the air-conditioning on when going out for a couple of hours each day so your home is cool when you return was also a costly habit for 1 in 5 Aussie households, adding an extra $54.60 to their bill over summer. Nationally, the practice could wrack up a total bill of $92 million.
Not so cool aircon mistakes
While some air-conditioning practices could be considered indulgent, others could be chalked up to a lack of awareness or a little bit of laziness on the part of sweating Aussies.
Leaving your air-conditioning on while the doors or windows are open is a bad habit for 8.7% of Aussies. Doing this for three hours a day, two days a week over summer could see a household $58.50 out of pocket and it could cost the nation $42 million extra over summer.
Trying to cool the whole house instead of blocking off the rooms that aren’t in use, was a habit for 18% of Aussies. But by just cooling the rooms you’ll actually be using, a household could save $39 over summer. Nationally, if we only cooled the rooms we were in we would stand to save $58 million.
8.5% of people also leave air-conditioning on in empty rooms, which could cost their household $78 over summer and leave the nation with a $55 million bill.
Keeping furry friends happy
Understandably, many Aussies wanted to do everything they can to make sure their pets are looked after - which includes keeping them cool on hot summer days. 1 in 10 respondents left their air-conditioning on for their pet while they went out.
Doing this every weekday for nine hours will keep pets nice and cool, but pet owners would need to budget an extra $156 over summer, while the nation faces a total $130 million price tag.
Appliances that suck (power)
While air-conditioning use is one of the main contributors to electricity costs over summer, how you use big appliances like dryers and fans can also impact your bill.
The survey found 12.6% of people use a dryer for their laundry, even though they could dry their clothes for free on a clothes rack in the sun. Turning on the dryer for four hours a day three days a week could add $62.40 to a household's summer bill, and the nation could rack up a combined bill of $65 million.
Fan use can also heat up your electricity bill with the survey finding 23.8% of people left fans on full blast instead of opening windows to let the breeze in. Leaving the fan blasting for six hours a day, five days a week could cost you an extra $8.78 adding up to a nationwide bill of $17 million.
How to save money on summer air-conditioning
Making some simple changes to your energy use habits can save you a motza on your energy bills. If you were to ditch the bad habits listed above, you could save up to $900 a year! Here are a few tips that can help cool your electricity costs:
Close windows and doors when the air-conditioning is on to keep cool air in. Remember what your dad used to say - “We’re not paying for aircon for the whole neighbourhood are we?”
Kick off the covers and sleep under a sheet instead of blasting the aircon all night. You can even sleep under a damp towel if it’s a really hot night, or if you just can’t stand the heat, a fan is a more budget-friendly alternative to the aircon.
Close the house up and draw the blinds when you go out on hot days to keep rooms cool. Your house will hold heat that builds up during the day, so by keeping it locked down and shady, you can return to a nice cool home without needing to turn the aircon on.
Install cat or dog doors so your pets can find the coolest place during the day. Whether that’s on the bathroom tiles or under a shady tree in the backyard, your furry friends will have the freedom to find a spot out of the heat.
Check the forecast and do your washing on a sunny day to avoid using the dryer. A little bit of strategic planning goes a long way when it comes to drying clothes without a spike in your energy bill.
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Notes on calculations: Nationally representative survey of 1,001 Australians aged 18 years and above conducted by Pureprofile between from November 2018. Cost of habits is calculated based on ‘Switch on Victoria’ appliance calculator hourly cost of a 1900 watt split system unit and an estimate of how much time the air-conditioner might be on for each habit. The air-conditioning calculations are based on estimated hours of use per week of a 1900 watt split system air conditioning unit over 12 weeks of summer. Estimates are also based on number of survey respondents with air-conditioning in their home who said they do the habit.