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A Senior's Guide to Cost-effective AC Use

As seniors have an increased risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses, it is of vital importance that heat stress is avoided throughout the summer months. One of the easiest ways for the elderly to keep cool is by using an efficient air conditioning unit in moderation, however the costs associated with running an air conditioner can deter low-income seniors from switching it on even on the hottest days. 

Look at some helpful tips to help you use your air conditioner this summer, without worrying about a spike in your energy bill.

Minimise use

There are simple things you can do to reduce the temperature in your home without having the air conditioner blaring all summer. Consider installing an awning or external blind on windows that face the sun, or have high-quality roof insulation installed to minimise the heat entering the house. When it warms up, pop the fan on first to circulate air around your home—for a cool boost, place a bowl of cold water and ice in front of the fan.

Alternatively, escape the heat by visiting a public building, such as a large shopping mall or library, for a few hours. These places are often kept at an ideal temperature with industrial air conditioning units, saving you money but keeping you cool. When the heat rises and your insulation, external blinds and fan just aren't cutting it, switch your air conditioner on. Do not risk your health and life quality just to save a few dollars.

Check eligibility for subsidies and discount schemes

Each state government offers different energy rebates, subsidies and discount schemes; this can be a great way of minimising the costs associated with air conditioner use. Eligible households living in high heat locations in Western Australia can even receive an air conditioning rebate to help subsidise the costs of operating your cooling system over summer. To determine your eligibility, see the Your Energy Savings website for more details. 

Have your air conditioner serviced regularly

An air conditioner service in spring or autumn can increase the efficiency of your air conditioning unit significantly. A regular service involves cleaning the filters, directional vanes and evaporator coils, a drainage system flush, and a full check of the temperature settings, coolant levels and pressure controls to ensure your unit is operating at maximum efficiency.

If you have ducted air conditioning, have the ductwork cleaned professionally biannually will remove obstructions and help keep evaporator coils unclogged. Many air conditioner maintenance professionals offer a senior discount, so be sure to enquire at the time of booking your service.

Increase your air conditioner's efficiency

While a regular service of your air conditioning unit can lead to a significant increase the efficiency, there are ways to give your unit an extra boost in between services. One of the best ways to help your air conditioner work more efficiently and increase airflow is to clean or change the air filters every month. Regularly cleaning the air conditioner's coils can also drastically increase performance. Consult the user's manual or ask AC maintenance professionals like Air Comfort Co of Australia Pty Ltd to show you how to clean the coils correctly.

Consider erecting a shade sail, or an equivalent method of shading your air conditioning unit, as this will allow the unit to cool the air quicker and easier than if it is in full sun all day. Always keep the air conditioner fan on the automatic setting, as this allows the unit to regulate the temperature in your home in the most efficient manner.