Advice and News, Hints & Tips •
Summer is most certainly on its way here, and with energy prices predicted to rise again, turning on the air conditioner may feel a little scarier than in past years. A single degree in either direction may affect your bills by as much as 10%, so managing your air con usage is more important than ever before.
If you’ve been asking yourself what temperature to set your air conditioner in summer so you can enjoy those Christmas movies in comfort, we’re here to help! We’ll look at recommendations for specific regions, as well as a few alternatives to help you avoid any bill shock in the coming months.
What to consider when setting your AC temperature
Before you start fiddling with that remote, here’s a few things to think about:
Your individual needs
Where do you live? How big is your home and what is it made of? How many people live there, and what are their specific timetables and lifestyles like? Do you have pets you need to keep safe and cool? All these things can affect the temperatures and the costs you’re going to need to manage over the summer.
Weather forecasts and storm warnings
Not only will this change your usage needs day to day, but as storm season hits certain areas, you may need to prepare for power outages.
Even air conditioners have limits
As a general rule, your air conditioning unit can change the air by around 12 degrees. This means that if it’s in the high 30s outside, you’re going to struggle to reach anything lower than the early-mid 20s, no matter what the number on the front of the unit says. Pushing it beyond its capabilities will keep costs high, as it works hard to try to keep up.
Recommended air conditioner settings for summer
Australia is a large country with a variety of different climates and a vast array of lifestyles. The needs of a household in the Melbourne suburbs will, of course, be quite different to one in Coober Pedy or Cairns. As such, the following recommendations are just a starting point based on location – you’ll need to take your own requirements into account as well.
It’s also important to note that, while these temperatures might seem a little higher than you expect, it’s all about offsetting extremes, and finding a balance between comfort and cost. The maximum you should be aiming for is around 8 degrees lower than the outside temperature, though you’ll obviously see much lower bills if you accept a few degrees less.
Tropical climates – North Queensland, North WA, Northern Territory
To keep things running efficiently, aim for 21-23°C in the summer. Due to the high humidity across these regions, keeping the air con running for longer can help battle any mould issues that come from leaving them off.
South-East Queensland and Northern NSW – Subtropical climate
To keep on top of energy prices, aim for 25°C during the summer. Remaining around the 22-25°C mark should keep you both comfortably cool and less financially stressed.
Central Australia – Arid climate
It’s recommended to run an air conditioner unit at between 21-23°C during the summer. Due to the large quantities of dust in the area, keeping those air conditioner filters clean is especially important to keep things running efficiently.
South Australia and South-West WA – Mediterranean climate
Aim for 23-25°C in the summer months, though be aware of the need to adjust for cold snaps.
Tasmania – Mild temperate climate
Tasmanians should be looking at around 28°C for cooling during the summer months, though the varied weather conditions may call for some quick adjustments.
South-East NSW, North-East Victoria, and ACT – Oceanic climate
Throughout these regions, the recommended air con temperatures sit at between 26-27°C for the summer. As these are inland areas, cold snaps may happen, so be ready to adjust accordingly.
South Victorian – Moderate oceanic climate
Aim for around 24°C in this area. This will set you up both for summer and for any seasonal heatwaves that may appear – staying consistent will keep things efficient.
If you’ve checked out the recommendations for your area and you’re left feeling a little deflated – and in this era of both rising energy prices and rising temperatures, no one would blame you! – then here’s a few suggestions for staying cool without breaking the bank.
Make use of timers
One way to manage your air con usage is to have set times for it to be turned on and off. Many units will have this feature, and newer ones may even have phone apps that mean they be managed on the go. You could also potentially team them with home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, and streamline the entire process through one mobile app. For portable air conditioners, you could look at adding a simple timer or a smart adapter to the plug.
Consider setting a specific time for the air con to turn itself on – say an hour before you come home, so you walk into air-conditioned comfort – and a time for it to turn itself off, perhaps an hour after you go to bed, so you can comfortably fall asleep and not have to worry about switching it off again.
Start a fan club
When you turn off the air con, turn on the fan. Fans are designed to move air around a room, so once the room is cooled, let them take on some of the work. Using fans in conjunction with an air conditioner also means you can likely go up a degree or two, as the fans are already making the room feel a little cooler without the need to take the air con temperature all the way to the teens.
Ceiling fans draw warm air upwards and push cool air down, while a fan beside the bed should be enough to let most people fall asleep in relative comfort. You may even find the gentle repetitive sounds quite soothing! Plus, they’re much cheaper to run for longer periods of time.
No, we’re not talking about a witty comeback – introducing shade into the home is a great way to try and beat the heat, all while keeping air con costs to a minimum. Keep blinds drawn and curtains closed – by keeping as much heat outdoors as possible, your air con won’t have to work quite so hard to keep temperatures bearable.
For a bigger project, consider adding a few trees and shrubs to your outside area. Natural shade AND something beautiful to enjoy for years to come!
Remember, it’s not just you feeling the heat
You might be tempted to blame the air con for any extra summertime costs, but many other electrical appliances will also be working overtime during the warmer months. Not only are they generating heat that you’ll have to account for, but their own cooling systems will be at capacity too, trying to keep themselves functional. Computers, TVs, gaming systems, lights – they’re all feeling the heat too!
Turning off things when they’re not in use and potentially setting time limits for when they can and can’t be used can potentially help balance things out. Lean into outdoor BBQs instead of warming the house up by using the oven, and encourage the kids to play outside rather than gaming in their too-toasty bedrooms.
Maintain your space
Looking after your air conditioner unit is one way to safeguard yourself against any nasty bill surprises at the end of the month. Regular professional maintenance will benefit you and your air con in the long run, keeping it running smoothly and efficiently for longer.
You could also look at your insulation. Organise for any repairs to be undertaken and upgrade where necessary – you might find that your air conditioner and your bank balance have an easier time of it as a result.
But it doesn’t stop there – take a look at the flow through your home. If you’ve got clutter everywhere, large furniture in awkward spots, or simply a few too many piles of laundry, consider rearranging a little. Allow easy access to doors and windows, so they can be thrown open to make the most of any breezes. You should also try to have as much open space as you can in each room, so air – air conditioned or otherwise – can circulate freely.
Changing energy providers could also help you out in the long term. Take advantage of online comparison tools and see if there’s a better deal out there for you. You never know what you might find!
Keep your cool
Ultimately, when it comes to finding those perfect air conditioner settings for summer, the key thing to remember is that the harder your air conditioner has to work, the more power it’s going to need, and the more money it’s going to cost you. Try using the Ergon Energy Air Conditioning Calculator to see how much you could spend (and save!) by changing the temperature by a few degrees, and if it’s looking like it’s time to upgrade, we can get you started with 2022’s most energy efficient air conditioners.
- Jared Mullane, 2022, “What is your air con temperature setting costing you?” Canstar Blue
- 2018, “Top 5 tips to reduce your air conditioning bill this summer”, Daikin
- 2021, “What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner in Summer?”, Metropolitan
- “What Temperature to Set Your Air Conditioner in Australia: Summer & Winter”, Alliance Climate Control
- “What Is The Ideal Air Conditioner Temperature For Electricity Savings?”, Crown Power