Surviving through the winter chill is a struggle, to say the least. As much as you want to turn that heater on – and leave it running on full blast – the thought of ripping open a hefty electricity bill (especially now) is far more unbearable than sitting like a popsicle indoors for a few months.
But when desperation hits, sometimes all you want to do is turn on that air conditioning unit and enjoy being warm without needing to look for cheaper solutions. And luckily, there are ways of doing this.
In an ABC Radio Hobart interview Andre Morrisby, the general manager of an air-conditioning business, revealed that this one trick can help your aircon run more efficiently — and as a result, save you money.
“The filter is probably the one thing that you need to take care of,” Morrisby explained. “The more debris that builds up on [the filter], the less air gets through it and the more expensive your system will be to run.”
“It’s like trying to suck air through a piece of carpet.”
How often should you be cleaning your filter?
“If you clean [the filters] regularly, every two to three weeks, depending on your home… it will increase the efficiency, make the machine run better and you will be warmer,” Morrisby said in the interview.
However, the frequency will depend on each individual’s household. For example, if you have more people living under a roof, pets to account for or spend most of your time at home, you’ll need to clean it more regularly.
At the very least, aim to clean your filter a couple of times a year. Some models also have a purification filter that can be removed and cleaned, and this type of filter will eventually need to be replaced every year or two.
How to clean an air conditioner filter
Your air-con should have come with an instruction manual, but if you don’t have this on hand, you may be able to download a copy from the manufacturer’s website.
Alternatively, you can also find helpful video tutorials on YouTube if you’re unsure of how to clean your filter.
But as a simple guideline, follow the below steps:
- Open the plastic cover on your air-con and remove the filter.
- Take the dust filter outside for a good brush or shake. You can also vacuum it for a thorough cleaning. Just make sure to use the vacuum cleaner’s dusting brush head if you have one.
- If the dust filters are extremely dirty, you can wash them in warm water and mild detergent. Let it completely dry before putting it back in the unit.
- If the dust filters are damaged, you’ll need to replace them. Check the manual or manufacturer’s website for information on where to purchase spare parts.
On top of cleaning the dust filter, you also want to regularly wipe down the unit and any vents with a soft damp cloth, both on the interior and exterior.
Other simple energy-saving tips
If you’ve cleaned out your air conditioning filter and are wondering what other ways you could cut your electricity bills, consider these other small mistakes that could be impacting your wallet.
Use a clothesline
A simple clothesline allows you to dry your clothes for free using the power of the sun and wind.
Set a timer on your shower
As much as we love standing under boiling hot water after a long, hard day, it’s not the most efficient for your electricity and water bill. To ensure you don’t go overboard, set a timer on your phone for five minutes before stepping in to take your shower. This way, you’ll be forced to turn off the water when the timer goes off.
Plug electronics into a power strip
Plug all your electronics into a single power strip and then turn off the strip when it’s not in use.
Clean refrigerator coils
Much like your air conditioner’s filter, your refrigerator condenser coils need to be cleaned, too. When these coils are clogged with dust, pet hair and debris, they can’t efficiently release heat. As a result, the compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to, ultimately using more energy and shortening the lifespan of your fridge.
You can purchase coil-cleaning brushes online, which are bendable and fit into tight areas.
Install heavy curtains
Quilted curtains and heavier shading can increase your comfort indoors and even compensate for drafty windows.
Or, open up your blinds
Use solar energy to your advantage by opening up your blinds when the sun is out. Your electricity bill will thank you for it.
Add a door sweep
Look under your entry door. Can you see daylight coming through and feel a breeze? This is costing you and your electricity bill. A simple way to solve this problem without replacing your entire door is by installing a door sweep, which can be purchased at a hardware store like Bunnings.
If you have more energy-saving tips of your own, share them in the comments section below!