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Modern kitchen and dining area with white decor, ceiling fan and dog
Keeping your home at a comfy temperature needn’t cost the Earth. Our eco guide to cooling will help you beat the heat.

 

Playing it cool

During the height of summer, there’s no greater luxury than walking into a comfortably cool room. However blasting old-school air conditioners (also known as a heat pump) take an unnecessary toll on energy bills - and the environment. Luckily, there are other solutions to help.

Invest now to save later

Upgrading your air conditioning can save you money. The Minimum Energy Performance Standards mean a 15-year-old system uses around three times the energy of a new one to cool the same area*. Check the unit’s energy label: the more stars it has, the better.

Match an air-conditioning system to your space. Assess the volume of a room – length by width by height – then factor in insulation, its ability to gain and retain heat and the climate. Use calculators online, or the Bunnings Measure and Quote service* (subject to COVID restrictions).

The eco way to aircon

In summer, the aim of air conditioning is to make you feel comfortable, and not like you’re in the supermarket dairy aisle! For maximum cooling efficiency, energy provider Genesis advises setting your thermostat to 20-22°C. A lower setting won’t cool the space any quicker, but will make your unit work harder. Also, try creating cool zones: rather than air conditioning the whole house, stick to the main living areas.

Turn to technology. Activate devices before the house overheats and switch them off when a room empties. The carrier Wi-Fi controller lets you control your microclimate using Google Home or Alexa, so you can switch it on via your smartphone while heading home, so you have a cool home to welcome you on a hot summer day. 

Use a fan

A fan can make a big difference to your comfort level. They cost about two cents per hour to run and reduce the ‘feels like’ temperature by 2-3°C** – until the mercury hits 30°C; then they just move hot air around. Reserving air conditioning for the 30°C plus days and using fans the rest of the time is a good way to save on cooling costs.

A three blade ceiling fan in a living room

Embrace passive design

At the building stage, orient windows to face north and minimise glass along the west. Position doors and windows to encourage cross-ventilation.

For existing houses, think about replacing solid doors or windows with louvres to maximise breezes and fit flyscreens so you can throw open doors. Open windows to invite in cool breezes in the late afternoon, and then ventilate the opposite side of the house to chase out warm air.

Shade and insulate

Outdoor shading, including awnings and pergolas, can help to block heat, while a green screen of trees is unsurpassed in its cooling effect. (If winter sun is a priority, choose something deciduous.) Use curtains or blinds on the inside, particularly on west-facing windows.

Keeping out the heat – and retaining the cool – also comes down to insulation. If you don’t have any, or if it’s old and ineffective, now’s the time to upgrade, to reap the comfort and ongoing energy savings. (Good ceiling insulation is the place to start.)

A modern living room featuring black blinds, a floor lamp, white lounge and an aircon

Tip: Grants covering 80 percent of the cost for efficient air conditioners are available. Visit Warmer Kiwi Homes tool - EECA tools.

Note: All ceiling fans should be at least 2.1 metres from the floor and at least 300mm from the ceiling. All electrical work must be carried out by a licensed electrician.

*aef.com.au/for-home/heating-cooling/air-conditioner-guide.

**energy.gov.au/households/quick-wins.

*Available in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch.

Looking for more ways to keep some cash in your pocket?

Follow our energy and money saving tips for summer. 

Some photographs feature products from suppliers other than Bunnings.

 

Photo Credit: Brigid Arnott and Getty Images

 

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.