Air conditioning and the cost of rising power in Australia

Australian summers can be scorchers, invariably involving many heat waves. This is why having an effective and economical home air conditioner makes all the difference to being comfortably cool and avoiding a high electricity bill. As electricity prices continue to rise, many Australian households are looking carefully at the cost of running all home appliances especially their air conditioner.

Household power bills have risen considerably since the 1990’s and are expected to continue to increase. In fact, Australian residential customers are now paying among the highest electricity prices in the world, two or three times more than American households. *1

Evaporative vs refrigerated air conditioning
In examining air conditioning costs, home owners are also looking at the technology choices on offer. Overall there are two main whole of home ducted options available – evaporative or refrigerated air conditioning. In trying to determine which technology suits a home and lifestyle, the cost to operate each whole of home system should be closely examined in addition to the features and benefits. For example if you do a lot of outdoor entertaining in summer, evaporative cooling has the ability to cool outdoor entertaining areas, perfectly complementing Australia’s alfresco living. On the other hand, open plan outdoor areas can’t be cooled using a reverse cycle air conditioner.

Evaporative cooling running costs
The main reason that evaporative cooling is so energy efficient is that the only power-consuming components are the motor for the fan, the control module, and a small water pump. That means some evaporative cooling products can use almost 90 per cent less *2 energy than refrigerated air conditioning. That’s a huge saving when you consider that heating and cooling can account for as much as *340 per cent of a building’s energy consumption. Innovative evaporative coolers deliver highly effective, energy-efficient cooling, with an added bonus of delivering continually refreshed, 100% naturally cooled air. In terms of running costs, evaporative cooling is by far the most economical to run.

New technologies helping to manage power use
Seeley International’s range of evaporative coolers have a smart electronic controller to further help reduce power consumption. Depending on the brand and model it may mean an evaporative air conditioner can be set up with a seven-day program. For example the Breezair sophisticated and intuitive MagIQtouch controller with touch screen technology allows you to program each day into four time periods. By reducing the time the evaporative cooler operates this minimises power consumption and power bills.

Easy maintenance helps to keep costs down
Easy and regular service by a qualified technician from time to time will ensure that an evaporative air conditioner continues to run at its peak efficiency and maintain low evaporative cooling costs. Australia’s own Breezair, Braemar and Coolair ranges have locally designed and manufactured cooling pads specifically aimed at maximising cooling in our harsh summer climate.

To make things easier and also improve efficiency, some evaporative air conditioners also have automated pad rinse technology and seasonal maintenance alerts. It helps too that evaporative coolers are also made of a hard wearing, easy to maintain, highly durable and non-corrosive plastic outer casing, are light weight, easy to install and maintain. These hard wearing non-corrosive casings will not rust or corrode contributing to their long life and in turn contributing to savings on not having to replace the casing.

What is the average cost of purchasing an air conditioner installation?
The approximate cost for full evaporative air conditioner installation including ducting will vary depending on the size of your home, number of ducts and unique features of the unit. It is important to keep in mind that while installation costs for an evaporative or reverse cycle air conditioner may be similar, the running costs will be vastly different. The simple way to find out exactly how much an evaporative air conditioner would cost for your home is to request a quote from a qualified and certified dealer who specialises in this type of air conditioning installation. Please contact a Climate Masters of Seeley International expert on heating and cooling:

*1 According to the Financial Review ‘Australian households pay highest power prices in world’ 
*2 Based on approximate running cost figures sourced from publicly available data. Assumes a whole house area of 166 square metres, with 300 hours usage, 60% duty cycle for air conditioners, and an electricity tariff of 28 cents/kWH. Note that evaporative coolers also use water. Correct at time of publishing. 90% running cost saving based on a Breezair 16kW costing $37 per year to run compared to a reverse cycle 20kW costing $383 per to run (not zoned standard efficiency).
*3 Australian Bureau Of Statistics – According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics heating and cooling can account for more than 40% of a household’s annual energy consumption


Electric power lines at sunset