1st Published May 2012
We have been asked countless times ’what is the best way to run our air conditioning without it costing the earth’. The principle of air conditioning is quite simple, it is the moving of warm air from inside of a building to the outside, and this system is very efficient. However if it is not used properly it can be costly to run. The majority of expats here come from the UK and over there you don’t really need air conditioning so we are not really educated in the way it works or how to get the most from it. The majority of people here use their air conditioning by switching the air conditioning on and then set it to the lowest temperature possible, then either leave it running all night at 16 deg, or run it for a few hours to cool the room before bed. Neither of these options is efficient or very comfortable.
Running the unit on the lowest setting will mean that the outdoor compressor will be running all the time and rarely switching off, this can be expensive. Cooling the room down before bed does work for many people, however for some it usually means waking up in the night feeling hot and then fumbling for the hand set to switch it on again.
We recommend that you set your air conditioning units to about 5 or 6 degrees cooler than the outside temperature, so if it is 30 degrees outside then the ideal setting should be around 25 to 26 deg for the inside. This will allow the compressor to switch off when the room has reached its desired temperature saving you money on your electricity bill. The main problem with running your air-con on full is that when a room cools down too quickly the humidity isn't taken away efficiently. When a room is allowed to cool slowly the humidity has time to condense inside the unit and run down the condense drain and away. Slowly cooling a room also helps to stop the drain from being overwhelmed which is the main cause of dripping units. Quite often people run a unit with the fan blowing at full speed and at the lowest temperature setting, this can cause a spraying effect out of the unit as the water that forms on the cooling coils it is dragged away by the force of the air being drawn through it.
If your air conditioning has been poorly maintained and is low on refrigerant, trying to cool a room too quickly can cause the formation of ice on the cooling coils inside the unit. I have seen it where a holiday guest had run a unit for so long on the coldest setting that a very large chunk of ice had formed jamming the rotary fan and causing considerable damage to the unit.
During the night your body naturally cools down so if you have set the air-con to 16 deg you will wake up freezing in the early hours of the morning, by setting the
temperature level higher you won’t feel so cold and it will save money too.
Another great way of saving money and feeling cooler is to install ceiling fans or simply have a stand fan blowing over you. The chill factor that this provides will allow you to set the air con temperature even higher to maybe 28 deg and still feel cool enough to sleep.
Air conditioning modes
Most air conditioning units have a timer mode which will switch the air-con off after a set period of time this is useful for getting off to sleep. This is also useful if you are using a fan for secondary cooling because it can be used to switch off the air-con after a few hours.
The sleep mode is a handy feature because it will slowly increase the room temperature over a period of time. For example if you set it to 22deg it would increase the temperature by 1deg per hour eventually getting up to it’s maximum temperature of usually 30 deg. These modes are useful for the months leading up to the full heat of the summer when you could do with a little bit of cooling but not the whole night through.
We will go into air conditioning modes in next month’s issue
Written for Cyprus living by Steve Holloway from Cyprus HomeCare