Air conditioning may be liable for 60 to 70% of electricity expenditure at home in the summertime. This year, more than ever, we must become conscious of the importance of using it rationally.
Why? From an environmental point of view, 86% of the energy used comes from gas and oil, highly polluting sources, CO2 generators, and other greenhouse gases. Air conditioning is the most electric (seasonal) appliance in our home. Therefore, the less we use it, the less we will pollute.
What can we do to streamline the use of air conditioning?
The cleanest energy is the one that is not consumed. If we can avoid the use of air conditioning, better. If we are going to use it, here are some helpful tips for reducing consumption and creating more efficient use:
- Use the thermostat between 24 and 26oC. For each degree you lower the temperature, you’ll consume 5 to 8% more energy.
- Over-cooling the environment is harmful to health. Most colds related to air conditioning are due to too low temperatures or a faulty design in the cold air distribution system. The air outlet temperature is usually between 10oC and 15oC, so the grille deflectors should be oriented so that the air spreads throughout the room and not directly over the occupants.
- Avoid sudden thermal jumps. Differences of more than 10-12oC with the outside temperature are harmful to health. A variation of 5o is pleasant and healthy.
- Do not set the thermostat to a lower temperature than desired when turning on the equipment; it will not cool down faster and will result in unnecessary energy expenditure.
- Clean air conditioning filters at least twice a year. A dirty filter reduces performance and increases consumption by up to 10%. If your aircon is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it for a modern AC system.
- Keep the vents free. Check that the air conditioning inlets and outlets are not clogged. This results in a higher airflow coming out of the other grilles and creating a feeling of cold. The grilles should be kept clean and free of dirt, dust, and foreign objects.
- Avoid opening doors and windows of the space you are air-cooling. If you feel cold when the air is on, turn up the thermostat temperature. If you still have to open windows, cover vents, etc., notify the maintenance service, something is poorly designed or not working properly and needs to be corrected.
- The evaporation effect of living plants refreshes the environment. Place them in front of the windows and next to the doors.
- If you live in a house, plant deciduous trees (whose leaves fall in winter) to the north and northwest, for which the house receives shade in summer but let the winter sun pass.
- You must seal doors and windows to prevent excessive air leakage. Use silicone sealer or weather.
- A fan or the same air conditioning fan can be sufficient in many cases to maintain acceptable comfort without having to turn on the air conditioner. The air movement produces a temperature drop sensation of between 3 and 5o C.
- Ventilate the house when the outside air is cooler than the indoor air (early morning and evening).
- If your device has a timer or energy-saving system, use it. Some have a stand-by or waiting mode when they detect the absence of people in the room. If not, disconnect it when no one is around or leave your home for an extended period.
- By installing awnings, closing the blinds, avoiding the entry of hot air inside the house, and adequately isolating walls and ceilings, you can achieve energy savings of up to 30%.
- Polarized glass and reflective films save up to 20% of air conditioning consumption.
- Painting external surfaces with light colours can reduce heat ingress by 75%. Using special paints with ceramic components can reflect up to 95% solar radiation.
- If you’re buying new aircon equipment, evaluate your needs well before choosing a model. Don’t choose larger or more powerful gadgets than necessary, as they are more expensive and energy-wasting. If you need several devices, the best is a centralized installation, which is much more efficient in energy consumption. Thanks to the energy label, buying efficient equipment is essential and easy to identify. There are seven kinds of efficiency, identified by a colour and letter code ranging from green and with the letter A for the most efficient equipment to red and the letter G for less efficient equipment.
If you want to install heating in addition to air conditioning, install appliances with a heat pump, preferably with inverter technology. You will have both functions in a single device and up to a quarter of the consumption compared to heating with a traditional system such as a fireplace or wood burning stove. Concerning this last point, I would like to clarify that an electric air conditioning system is more sustainable than one that uses gas. While today, as we indicated initially, much of the energy is produced using fossil fuels, an electrical system is “future-proof.” We know that natural gas reserves are depleting and that other clean energy sources will undoubtedly replace this source of polluting energy.