The seven myths of air conditioning explained

We all want our home to be at the optimum temperature, while also keeping energy costs low. However, some bad advice could end up costing you more to keep cool or stay warm than it needs to. Here we explore the seven biggest myths of air conditioning and sort the fact from the fiction.

Does setting the temperature low cool the room faster?

Air conditioners work by cooling (or heating) a room to the temperature set and then turn off once they reach that temperature. Setting the temperature too low will result in you having to turn it back up, because you are too cold, and therefore you will burn more energy as your unit is forced to work harder.

Can ceiling fans work just as well?

A fan will only move hot air around and will not actually cool the air like an air conditioner will. The only way a fan can cool the room is when it is cooler outside than inside and you set the fan by the window to draw the cool air in. They can also work well in conjunction with air con units, blowing the conditioned air around further. Fans make you feel cooler by moving the air across your skin, so leaving a fan running when you are out of the room is a total waste of energy.

Are air conditioners expensive to run?

Okay, this is a dubious one as it depends on what you deem expensive and what system you are running. On a whole, air conditioners are not too expensive to run as many modern products are extremely energy efficient.  For a large room (say, 60 sqm) using an 8KW split system will cost you between $108 and $125 annually, when used for an average of 300 hours (and this of course is dependent on your electricity rates). A ducted system used across a whole house will cost you much more, with an average of $2.26 to $2.67 per hour, which equates to $678 to $801 a year.

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Will buying a lower capacity system save money on energy?

If you have a large area to cool, then buying a low capacity air conditioner is actually going to cost you more. If you are running a 2.5KW air conditioner in a 60sqm room, then it’s going to be running harder, for longer, to get the room to the appropriate temperature. What you need to do is choose an air conditioner which is appropriate for the size of room.

Can air conditioners make you sick?

Temperature change actually has nothing to do with catching a cold and setting your air conditioner on a low temperature is certainly not going to start you coughing. In actual fact, many air conditioners offer air purifying technology to keep the air clean by neutralising bacteria and viruses. Panasonic air conditioners are particularly good at this.

Does the air con setting impact running costs?

Being savvy about your air conditioner’s setting is fundamental to saving money on your energy bills. Setting your air conditioner to ‘dry’ mode will not only save on energy but it will reduce the humidity levels in the room. It’s generally considered that 24 degrees centigrade is the optimum temperature for summer cooling. 

Should you turn the air con on and off, or keep it running?

It is more economical to turn the air conditioning off when you feel comfortable rather than keeping it running all day. If you are out of the house it is much better to turn it off completely rather than running it at a lower level as you are running your electricity unnecessarily. If you have a thermostat then setting it to change temperature gradually for when you are home will save you energy as the air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard to cool the room.

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