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.

Sponsored by COOLMAX, the lowest energy use way to cool a 45m2 room.

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How can colour save you energy?

The colour of your roof can make a difference to both energy consumption and comfort. The lighter the colour the less heat absorbed. For most of Australia where cooling is more important than heating, this means that lighter is better. Currently there is a trend to darker roof colours. From an energy conservation point of view this is unfortunate as it leads to higher energy use for cooling. One thing to be aware of is that the difference is reduced if the roof gets dirty. Although I am not suggesting that you clean your roof, this does mean that if you live in a polluted area, there is probably not much benefit in going for a light colour. If you have a dark colour or dirty roof then make a point of going for thicker rather than thinner insulation if you are insulating.

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Productivity Commission Inquiry into Energy Efficiency

To quote from their press release "The Commission is to examine and report on the economic and environmental potential offered by energy efficiency improvements which are cost-effective for individual producers and consumers..." The commission's mandate covers all areas of energy use, and I will keep you updated with brief summaries of items relevant to building energy use. The commission aims to encourage actions which are cost effective. This is certainly a worthwhile goal and there are plenty of cost effective things we can do to keep building energy use down.

The commission is looking at a number of issues, with the most important (in my opinion) being the barriers and impediments to implementing energy savings. One of these barriers is lack of information, and you are attempting to minimise that barrier by reading this newsletter!

Submissions have already been made and are available for reading on their website (see below). If you would like to make your own submission, you will need to be quick.

I have made a submission to the inquiry which in a nutshell argues as follows: Air conditioners tend to be all on at the same time and in much of Australia this determines how much electricity generating capacity is required. The high price of electricity is mainly due to the fact that a person can spend $500 to buy an air conditioner and require the electricity generator to spend $2,800 on new generation and distribution plant to power that air conditioner, even though that air conditioner may not run for many hours each year. The generating authority has to recover this cost by charging higher electricity prices. From 1990 to 2000 there was a 50% growth in air conditioner energy use so this problem is rising fast. One solution which is applicable in the evaporative cooling areas of Australia, where over 7 million Australians live, is to encourage evaporative cooling use in lieu of refrigerative air conditioning. Evaporative cooling can save up to 80% of the energy used by refrigerative air conditioners. This will even help people in most non-evaporative cooling areas, because the electricity systems are interconnected. Read my submission at

One interesting submission relating to energy use in Buildings was prepared by Dr Terry Williamson from the School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Adelaide. The most relevant point (for this newsletter) that he makes is that the behaviour of the occupants has a dramatic impact on energy use. If you remember that heating and cooling can be very big users of energy, and act accordingly you can make a big difference. (I will give some advice on just what behaviours will have the biggest impact for the least effort over the next few issues.) The main thrust of his paper is that a lot of the policy initiatives currently under way are not based on evidence of actual energy saving, but are based on theoretical results. Although I think the current initiatives are better than nothing, I agree that we need to link the policies to what actually happens in the real world. This means we need more research into what influences energy use in the real world.

More information can be found at

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Help! my air conditioner is struggling!

This is the time of the year when you find out whether your air conditioner still cuts the mustard! If it is struggling, try the following ideas. In fact most of these ideas are worth considering even if the air conditioner is not struggling, as they will save money and increase comfort.

I recommend you print this issue out and put it with your air conditioner instruction book, so you have it when you need it.

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Clive Blanchard, Consulting Mechanical Engineer
78 West St

Web page:

Phone (08) 8354 1062