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Tips for cooling a single room in your home

Tips for cooling a single room in your home

8 April, 2022

We're elbow-deep in another hot Aussie summer — and trying to stay sane and cool at home can be a challenge.

If you're renting, or if you own an older fibro house, you might be limited in what appliances you can install.

What you can do is concentrate your cooling efforts to one single room in the house. Here are a few tips and tricks to try.

Air conditioning is your best starting point

Stephen White is the energy efficiency leader at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

First and foremost, he says, the best way to cool a single room is with air conditioning.

"If you need the temperature down, you need an air conditioner," Dr White says.

"A typical air-conditioning system sucks heat outside of the occupied space and dumps it outside.

"If you're air conditioning rooms or indeed your entire house, then you want an efficient system and the higher the star rating, the more efficient the air conditioner."

When it comes to energy consumption, the temperature setting on your system plays an important role according to Tania Urmee, an associate professor at Murdoch University's department of engineering and energy.

"Increasing the temperature to say 24–27 degrees will use less energy," she says.

"Every degree warmer can reduce the running cost of your appliances by 10 per cent."

What about portable air con?

If a ducted or split system air conditioner isn't something you can install in your home, a portable air conditioning unit can provide some relief.

Dr White says that while the portable units won't be as efficient, they can be effective at spot cooling.

"If you're sitting at a desk for long period of time and need to cool that little desk area, air conditioning a very small space could be a reasonable way of going about it," he says.

"If you want to reduce your energy bills and you're going to be occupying a particular part of the home, then shut the doors and only air condition that area rather than the whole house."

The placement of a portable unit is also important, Dr Urmee adds.

"A portable until should be set up in the coolest part of the room, but that's not always possible as it needs to be located next to a window," she says.

What about fans?

"The same goes for a [pedestal] fan — set it up in the coolest area," Dr Urmee says.

Any kind of fan will be a much cheaper way to move air around than an air conditioning unit.

"The fan only uses 1 per cent of the electricity that the air conditioner uses. So, if we leave the fan running for a full 24 hours, it will use less energy than 15 minutes of running an air conditioner," Dr Urmee says.

What other small changes can I make to cool things down?

Dr White says preventing sunlight and heat from entering a room is the best way to keep it cool.

"If you can stop the sun coming in through the window, that would be a good thing to keep your house cool," he explains.

"External blinds would be more effective than internal blinds. When you've got internal blinds, the sun has already come in through the window."

Dr Urmee agrees and says 76 per cent of sunlight that enters into the house turns into heat.

"Keep your blinds down and curtains closed, and sometimes there is a white plastic behind the curtain which is actually very good as it will reflect the heat," she says.

"Check the door gap too, sometimes a weather seal is an inexpensive option to use."

Being aware of the outside temperature and any wind or cooling breeze can make a big difference too.

"When operating my own house, I think about the weather," says Dr White.

"If it gets cool overnight, I open up the windows and let cool air in and once it starts to heat up during the day, that's when I shut the windows pull down the blinds and things like that."