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Aussies guilty of air conditioner ‘gluttony’

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One thing Australia is famous for – besides snags on the barbeque, great surf, and the cast of Neighbours – is our hot, wild, sunny days.

Sure, there are hotter places on the planet, like Death Valley in the USA, which at one point sported the highest ever recorded temperature (56.7 degrees Celsius, according to Guinness Book of Records). But gosh, Australia sure is consistently steamy, which means many of us like to indulge in air conditioning to keep the dreaded sweats at bay.

In fact, the ABC reports that more than half of Aussies everywhere have air conditioning.1 Air conditioning is a luxury that many Aussies would quickly tell you is an absolute necessity. We can tell you that certain regions of our fair land do warrant some weather intervention.

Which regions require heavy cooling?

How do we know this? The Federal Government tallied up how many hours of air conditioner usage each postcode around the country burned through in a year. Averaged out, suburbs in Australia used their air conditioner to cool themselves down for 1,728 hours in 2015. That’s roughly 72 days of the year!

And when you look at the hours against average temperatures per season, you realise how much these communities need sweet relief…

Sources: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/ & https://data.gov.au/dataset/air-con-climate-data-july-7-2015

The numbers don’t lie; those regions are absolutely ravaged by high heat in Summer, so who could blame them for turning on the air con for comfort. Interestingly, Darwin didn’t record any heating usage throughout the year.

Which residents require warming up?

Not surprisingly, residents living in the southern regions of the country were least likely to require modern creature comforts to stay cool.

Sources: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/ & https://data.gov.au/dataset/air-con-climate-data-july-7-2015

Some of us, it would seem, have difficulty staying clear of their cool comfort. But, there’s hope for the future, with all kinds of innovations potentially leading to a cooler tomorrow.

How much does air conditioning cost?

Keeping cool isn’t always easy in Australia, and many of us think it’s super expensive. This table outlines exactly how much air conditioning costs.

Room size Cost per annum* Appliance energy star rating Power and type of air conditioner
small
(10 metres squared)
$34 Two and a half stars 2.5 kW split system air conditioner
medium
(35 metres squared)
$74 Three stars 5.5 kW split system unit
large
(60 metres squared)
$108 Three stars 8 kW split system unit
whole house
(166 metres squared)
$383 Standards efficiency 20 kW ducted air conditioning
Source: Sustainability Victoria
*Approximate cost calculation determined by: 60% duty cycle for air conditioners, 300 hours of usage, electricity tariff of 28c/kWh.

Of course, the costs never end there. There’s also installation, servicing, and repair expenses you need to account for. All this said, you do have other options available…

  1. Curtains and blinds are going to be invaluable in your battle against the heat. If you purchase ones made of thick enough fabric, they will block out the sun’s rays and keep the room from heating up.
  2. Shut out the hotter rooms. Depending on the orientation of your house, certain rooms will heat up faster than others due to longer exposure to the sun’s direct rays. Shut these rooms off by closing the door to them.
  3. Use the ol’ bucket of ice in front of the fan It’s cheap, and surprisingly effective.
  4. Pick thin, breathable bedding. Think ‘natural fibres’ like cotton, and clean them often.
  5. Minimise usage of heat-heavy appliances. Think ovens, dishwashers, clothes dryers, etc.
  6. Sleep on the bottom floor (because hot air rises). Depending on your house, this can be a simple solution to staying cool.

Long term, investing in better insulation for your home, setting shades/sails across parts of your home susceptible to long hours of sunshine, and finding an efficient air conditioning solution are all great ways to stay comfortable during the warmer months of the year.

You should review your options for reducing either your energy usage or the costs to run these appliances…

Ask yourself these questions…before the heat starts to rise once more.

Sources

  1. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-16/phillips-the-great-australian-air-con/5203068
  2. http://blog.id.com.au/2014/population/australian-population/the-50-largest-australian-cities-and-towns-by-population/

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