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How to be energy smart and sustainable this summer

How to be energy smart and sustainable this summer

Even though summer is here, it’s never too late to be smart with your energy use. By making simple changes, you can stay cool, be sustainable and cut your bills starting now.


Photography by Dimas Anggara

CONTROL THE TEMPERATURE

One of the simplest but most effective ways to reduce your energy bill is to turn down your thermostat. Lowering the temperature by 1°C will reduce your energy bill by as much as 10%, says the ACT Government’s ActSmart initiative, which recommends a thermostat setting of 23˚C or above during summer. Most modern thermostats allow you to program your air conditioner to turn on and off at certain times of the day, so use the timer to suit your lifestyle and schedule. Best of all, it will save you from having to remember to turn it off when you go to bed or leave the house, saving you unnecessary energy costs.


Photography by Erik Mclean

CHECK INSULATION

According to ActSmart, cracks and gaps around your home can account for 10–15% of air loss. In summer, inadequate insulation can lead to cool air escaping, making cooling systems work overtime to regulate the internal temperature, leading to unnecessarily high energy bills. Start your insulation checks by assessing that your doors and windows are well sealed. Door gaps can be fixed with weather strips and tubular draught blockers. Window gaps can be addressed with a sealant, or if your budget allows, consider speaking to a professional about your options for double-glazed windows. You can also improve window insulation with close-fitting lined curtains and blinds with box pelmets. When choosing curtains, make sure they go all the way to the floor and wrap to the wall on either side of your window. Likewise, line your curtains with block-out backing or tightly woven materials to trap internal air in.


Photography by Delaney

INCREASE AIRFLOW

A quick way to beat the heat and reduce energy costs is to opt for a fan over an air conditioner. Admittedly, sometimes it’s too hot to go without the AC, but there will be days where a ceiling fan or standing/portable fan is sufficient – and they are cheap to run, too! According to ActSmart, fans only cost between 1 and 3 cents an hour to operate. On hot days, close curtains, blinds, windows and doors during the day, but when temperatures fall, open everything up again and turn the fan on to allow evening breezes to circulate around your home. Ceiling fans with large blades move more air and are effective even at low speeds, which means they’re quieter through the night. In the morning, close everything up again to trap the cool air in.

 
Photography by Bernie Almanz

THINK SMART

There are lots of other small but savvy ways you can slash your energy bill this summer. Here are some you can do straight away:
- Switch off your air conditioner before you go to sleep
- Limit the use of household appliances that generate heat
- Switch off your air conditioner half an hour before you leave the house, rather than when you walk out the door
- Minimise the areas to be cooled across your home by closing doors between rooms
- Opt for lighter bedding in summer to keep you cool while you sleep
- Don’t forget to dress for the season – wear breathable fabrics so you are less likely to turn on the air conditioner.

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