Keeping cool this summer

by Eskom Media Desk

Monday, 16 November 2020

Johannesburg: Air-conditioning offers a refreshing escape from the summer heat, but settling on a temperature to maintain in your home may require a delicate balance between your family’s comfort preferences and your financial bottom line.

Simply put – the lower you set your air-conditioner in summer, the higher your energy bills will be. However, if you work through some of the variables you can settle on a temperature that keeps you comfortable, and saves you money.

So, what temperature should you set your air-conditioner on? On extremely hot days, your air conditioner will run for longer periods at a time than on moderate days. The average recommended setting, while you’re at home is around 23 degrees C or a higher comfortable setting.

A common question that we receive is “How long will it take for my air conditioner to cool down my house?” This is a very complex question to answer, because it involves various factors. The first misconception is that the lower you set the thermostat setting, the faster your home will cool down.  This is not true.  Your home will be cooled at the same rate, notwithstanding the thermostat setting.

Factors that will influence your home’s cooling rate include:

  • Heat and humidity outside. The higher the heat and humidity levels outside, the longer it will take to cool your home.
  • The size of your home. The larger the square meter footage, the longer it will take to cool the space.  The air-conditioner must be correctly sized for the task at hand.
  • The size of your air-conditioner. A system with a larger cooling capacity will cool your space faster.  But be careful not to fall into the trap of oversizing your system, which will be wasteful and will lead to the system switching on an off too often, which can result in comfort level problems and system breakdowns.
  • Heat source inside your home. These heat sources include electronics, lighting, people and appliances being used, which will increase the temperature inside and it will take longer for the air-conditioner to cool those areas.
  • Air leaks and insufficient insulations levels. This can lead to the cool inside air escaping and will also lengthen the cooling down process.

The aim is to effectively manage these factors to shorten the cooling down period in the most cost effective manner.  Plan your cooking on the stove for cool periods of the day, for example. Don’t leave lighting on during the day – rather make use of natural lighting.

If you live in a climate where there are cool nights or regular breezes, take advantage of it. Let the cool breeze in to cool down your home by opening the windows. Only switch on the air-conditioner after 10:00 am and ensure that windows and doors are then airtight to prevent cool air from escaping.

Remember to keep an eye out and respond to the real-time Power Alert messages on SABC, eTV and DStv to help manage the strain on the electricity system. Together we can make a difference and keep the lights on.