CoolComfort Tips
Practical ideas so you can reduce energy use in heating and cooling

Hi [[firstname]],
Welcome to this edition of 'CoolComfort Tips'.

A short newsletter giving practical advice on minimising your energy for heating and cooling focusing on low cost easily implemented ideas.

If buying a refrigerative air conditioner don't forget to check the size required by using a SureCool Air Conditioner Selector

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"Free" heat from your oven.

Normally it uses less energy to cook something using the microwave or stove-top rather than an oven. However if you intend heating the room anyway, then you can get double use out of the heat you use for the oven. First of all the heat cooks the food, then it heats the room, so you can cook that yummy roast (or heat up that frozen pizza) with a clear conscience!

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Is "Electricity Demand Management" the answer?

You are going to hear the term "Electricity Demand Management" (or "Electricity Demand Side Management") a lot over the next few years. In a nutshell it involves turning off an item of equipment (or part of the item) when electricity demand is high.

An example is a recent experiment by ETSA Utilities (South Australia's power distributor) . In this experiment the air conditioner compressor was switched off for short periods of time, but the circulating fan was kept running. Similar experiments are underway in other areas. In this experiment it was claimed that people generally didn't notice the effect.

However, I don't believe this can save a lot of energy, as if the percentage off time is large people will object. In fact in South Australia the most recent summer was relatively mild and I am not sure that the results are that conclusive. Because the summer was mild, the homes started off cool, and so the slight upward drift in temperature wouldn't have been noticed. During a hot summer on the other hand, the house starts out hot, and switching the compressor off, even for a short period of time would allow the temperature to rapidly rise to an unacceptable level.

I think this will reduce peak electrical demand slightly but it will generally only be accepted by people who either have well designed homes or have oversized air conditioners.

Nevertheless as part of a coordinated package, this type of demand management has a place. Other measures that are required at the same time however are more efficiently designed houses, alternatives to conventional air conditioning and more efficient air conditioners

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Winterise your home now.

If you haven't already done so, it is time to get your house ready for winter.

If you have an evaporative cooler it is time to get it cleaned and shut down for winter. If you have a reverse cycle air conditioner, clean the filter (unless you have cleaned it in the last month). Also check the outdoor unit to ensure there is no buildup of leaves or other debris on the heat exchanger and that plants haven't grown close enough to restrict air into the air conditioner. If you have a gas heater that needs servicing get it serviced before the rush. For any flued gas heater check that the flue is clear of any combustible matter (trees etc.) If it is an outdoor gas heater, inspect it to ensure there is no buildup of leaves or other debris around it and that plants haven't grown close enough to cause a fire hazard.

If you use a fuel that is delivered by truck or collected yourself, (wood, oil or LPG) it is time to check your supplies and order now.

It is also time to remove temporary shading. External blinds or awnings can be rolled up (or even removed completely if they are bamboo.) Removable shadecloth should be removed and stored for next summer. In addition now is the best time (from an energy saving perspective- you may have to modify it slightly depending on the plant) to prune plants that are shading windows. All these actions are designed to increase the sunlight into your house during the winter months so you can use the 'free' heat from the sun. In a well designed house on a sunny but cold winters day, you should need at most a little top-up, rather than having the heater going full bore.

Cleaning windows could in many cases allow more sunlight in.

While you are doing this have a think if there are any ways of getting more free heat, or stopping the loss of heat. Examples are replacing some sheets of iron in a wide verandah or carport with translucent sheeting if the verandah is shading a window which would otherwise get sunlight, weather-stripping, adding insulation if required.

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