Practical ways to stay cool in summer without using your air conditioner.
As the sun begins to grace us with its rays and holidays hurtle our way, there is little room for doubt: the world is getting warmer and so are we.
This summer, as we familiarise ourselves with beads of sweat and insufferably hot days, the air conditioner will become our greatest ally. But according to government data, heating and cooling accounts for more than 40 per cent of household energy use.
So, in the interests of saving money and being kind to the environment, here are just a few ways to stay cool this summer without flicking the switch on the air conditioner.
Close the house up
According to Finder‘s energy expert Graham Cooke, closing the house up is the most simple and efficient way of ensuring the heat doesn’t permeate every room.
“It might seem simple but closing your blinds can keep out a lot of unwanted heat and save you on your summer energy bill,” he says.
“You can also invest in some blackout curtains if you really want to stop your home from reaching greenhouse temperatures.”
Closing the house up can the simplest way of ensuring the heat doesn’t permeate every room. Photo: iStock
He adds that if there isn’t a breeze, or if your windows aren’t in a position to catch one, you are better off closing your windows altogether.
You might be boasting an array indoor plants purely for the aesthetic but, if you thoughtfully pick a few good ones, they too can help shade the home from the heat.
“Invest in some fast-growing trees or plants to protect and shade the windows. Natives are a great option because not only do they sprout up quickly but they’re also drought-tolerant,” Cooke says.
“This is more of a long-term option, but it’s a great natural way to keep the house cool. Head to your local nursery and chat to the staff about what plants will work best.”
Use a timer app
If the air conditioner is an absolute non-negotiable, pay close attention to how you are actually using it, Cooke says.
“If you find you can’t keep away from your aircon, try and use it more wisely instead. Pair your aircon to an app and have it switch itself on when you’re a few minutes from home. That way it’s not running all day and adding to your summer energy bill.”
He also suggests timing the air conditioner to switch off an hour or so after you sleep to make sure it’s not running through the night.
Opt for a fan instead
As David to the aircon’s Goliath, the humble fan can keep you cool if you’re going about it the right way.
“Aussies are quick to overlook the trusted fan, but if you use them right they can cool you down a lot more effectively than you may have originally thought,” Cooke says.
For example, filling a bowl with ice and placing it in front of a large fan can result in cooler air being spun around the room.
Cooke also argues the fan is underrated thanks to how cheaply it runs.
“Even if you kept a fan blowing for every day through summer, you would still be $590 better off than using air conditioning for four hours per day,” he says.
This one demands a little more forward-thinking, but if you are building a home and living in a warm part of the world, consider how well your home is insulated from the elements.
“There’s no point in getting to a 42-degree day and realising you have no way to keep cool. Make sure you’re prepared before the peak of summer really hits,” Cooke says.
Re-consider the use of certain appliances
And finally, if the dryer doesn’t need to be turned on, why use it?
If you can live without the stove for a day or two, try.
Using appliances that radiate heat only serves to make you feel like you’re living in a furnace.