It can be quite challenging to endure a hot summer day without turning on the air conditioning unit. Often, we let the appliances run for hours to cope with the heat. However, the momentary relief is quickly overshadowed by the electricity bill. The air conditioner is one of the largest consumers of electricity in a household. Few people know that it consumes the most when set below 21 degrees Celsius. With a few tricks, we can stay cool without paying too much at the end of the month.
- Cover the windows – up to 70% lower bills
- Use fans – 30 times less energy consumption than AC
- Efficient use of air conditioning
- Take advantage of natural ventilation
- Check your home’s insulation
- Cover the windows – up to 70% lower bills:
Covering your windows could help maintain coolness in your home while also preventing your electricity bills from soaring. Studies show that covered windows can reduce the heat inside the house by up to 77%. Here are a few examples:
- Drapes or curtains: The heat-reducing capability of drapes and curtains depends on their material and color. Medium-colored drapes can reduce heat by approximately 33%. Another trick is to mount the curtains as close to the windows as possible.
- Blinds: When properly installed, blinds are one of the simplest and most efficient ways to save energy. They should be pulled down throughout the day to work effectively. Install them as close to the glass as possible. Reversible blinds, with one side white and the other dark, can be changed according to the seasons, with the white side reflecting the sun during summer and the dark side absorbing heat during winter.
- Shutters: Unlike blinds, shutter slats can be adjusted to control light and ventilation. When fully closed, highly reflective shutters can reduce heat absorption by approximately 45%, according to studies.
- Reflective film: Silver film, similar to a mirror, is more efficient than transparent colored film. It has a high heat-absorbing capacity when the sun rises and sets. Keep in mind that reflective film is difficult to clean.
- The fan consumes 30 times less energy than air conditioning:
A fan does not produce cold air but simply circulates the existing air in the vicinity. The airflow creates a cooling effect through the sensation of wind, which helps us feel more comfortable but does not change the temperature.
However, fans are a great and cost-effective way to keep cool during the summer. On average, a fan consumes around 50 watts per hour. If used for 5 hours a day, every day for a month, it would cost approximately 6 lei on the electricity bill (calculated at an electricity rate of 0.8 lei per kilowatt-hour). For comparison, an air conditioning unit consumes 30 times more energy based on its power rating.
Here are some approximate energy consumption rates for air conditioning units:
- 5000 BTU – 0.25-0.4 kW per hour
- 6000 BTU – 0.3-0.5 kW per hour
- 8000 BTU – 0.4-0.65 kW per hour
- 12000 BTU – 0.6-1 kW per hour
- 18000 BTU – 0.8-1.5 kW per hour
- 24000 BTU – 1-1.8 kW per hour
- 36000 BTU – 1.5-2.8 kW per hour
Additionally, the fan can be used simultaneously with the air conditioning unit to lower the overall cost. You can set the thermostat of the air conditioning unit 2°C higher than usual and have the fan operating in parallel.
Important to note! Fans should not run when there is nobody at home. Without people around to experience the cooling effect of the wind, fans don’t contribute much but only slightly increase the energy bill.
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- How to use the air conditioning unit to minimize energy consumption:
If you are purchasing an air conditioning unit now, opt for one with a better energy efficiency rating. Although it may have a higher upfront cost, it will ultimately result in lower costs over time because it consumes less energy.
An air conditioning unit with an energy efficiency class of A can consume up to 50% less energy than one with a class of C or D.
The temperature at which you set the air conditioning unit also plays a crucial role. The set temperature should not be lower than 21 degrees Celsius. Choosing a higher temperature, such as 25 degrees Celsius, can reduce energy consumption by up to 20%.
Additionally, the installation location of the unit can have a significant impact on your electricity bill. If you want to avoid high electricity costs during the summer, install the air conditioning unit in a shaded area. If it is exposed to direct sunlight, its consumption will increase by 25%.
By considering the energy efficiency rating, setting an appropriate temperature, and choosing a suitable installation location, you can effectively use the air conditioning unit while minimizing its energy consumption and reducing your overall electricity expenses.
- Take advantage of natural ventilation:
Natural ventilation is a great way to cool your home, both in terms of cost and environmental impact. It utilizes the movement of air from the outside and pressure differences to cool and ventilate a house. Refreshing breezes replace the heat inside a building by introducing cooler outside air, effectively reducing the temperature in the interior spaces.
This method works particularly well during the night. Open your windows and ensure proper airflow, which will provide an optimal and comfortable temperature.
Avoid using appliances that generate heat, such as:
- Computers or laptops: If not in use, turn them off. Even in standby mode, these devices generate heat.
- Oven or stove: Cook in the morning or evening. Avoid using the stove in the middle of the day when temperatures are highest.
- Vacuum cleaner or washing machine: Use them in the evening or morning when it’s cooler.
- Check the insulation of your house:
Insulation is one of the most effective ways to save energy. By improving the insulation in your home, you can reduce up to 80% of the loss of cool air. Up to 15% of cool air in a building can be lost through the floors. In addition, insulation not only helps to save energy but also contributes to reducing condensation, mold, and moisture-related issues that can impact health.
It is important to ensure that the windows in your home are properly sealed so that heat does not enter and cool air does not escape. Here are some ways to check if your windows are losing heat:
- Look for signs of condensation: If you notice condensation forming on the inside or around the edges of the window, it could be an indication of heat loss through the window.
- Use a candle: Light a candle and place it near the window. If the candle flame flickers consistently or is easily blown out, it may be a sign that there is a gap through which heat is escaping.
- Check for tightness: Verify if the seal between the window and the frame is tight. Look for any cracks, gaps, or areas where the sealing gasket may be damaged
- Use an infrared thermometer: You can use an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of the window at different points. Significant temperature differences between different areas of the window may indicate heat loss.
Energy saving is not only important for having a lower bill. Reducing electricity consumption and using energy efficiently can contribute to environmental protection, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, conservation of natural resources, and minimization of pollution. Measures such as using renewable energy sources, thermal insulation of homes, and adopting responsible consumption habits can help reduce our ecological footprint and protect the environment. Especially during the summer, when the climate is rapidly changing and temperatures are increasing, it is important to use air conditioning responsibly. It is preferable to explore alternative methods of cooling homes, such as covering windows with thick curtains and drapes, investing in blinds or shutters, and ventilating rooms early in the morning and late in the evening. By doing so, you are helping the environment, and at the end of the month, you will pay even twice less on your electricity bill.