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Five Reasons Why You Should Minimise Your Use of AC

One of the reasons why I think that ceiling fans are such a great addition to Australian homes is that they can help you to cut down on your use of air conditioning. Now, air conditioning is a wonder of technology and it is certainly here to stay, especially as average temperatures rise and summer temperatures become more and more uncomfortable. It’s amazing that we’ve learned to use refrigerant to remove heat from relatively cool areas (like our houses) and discharge it into relatively hot areas (like our gardens). Air conditioning is clever and effective, but it’s not without its disadvantages.

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1. Air Conditioning is an Energy Hog

If you have air conditioning, on average it’s responsible for five to 10% of your total electricity use, even though you only switch it on occasionally. Ceiling fans vary in their efficiency, but if the temperature is in the range where ceiling fans can cool effectively, then they can do the job far more efficiently than air conditioners can.

2. Duct Systems Can Be Wasteful and Dirty

Did you know that you’re probably losing at least a third of the cool air from your air conditioner through duct leakage? Ducts can also become dirty or even mouldy, negatively affecting air quality. Ceiling fans work well with open windows. That means high ventilation rates and plenty of healthy, fresh air.

3. Refrigerants Are Bad for the Environment

Today’s refrigerants are better for the environment than the refrigerants of 25 years ago, but they’re still toxic and they still produce plenty of greenhouse gases. It’s best to minimise the use of refrigerants.

4. Sustainability Means Working With the Weather

There are some days when it’s so hot or so cold out that you need to seal off your house and use your mechanical systems to condition the air. There’s no doubt about it. However, there’s more and more evidence that working with the weather is healthier and more sustainable than trying to force indoor spaces to be the same temperature all the time. That means dressing for the weather and not turning on the heat or AC until it gets truly uncomfortable. Ceiling fans work well with that philosophy.

5. Limited Effectiveness at Very High Temperatures

Your air conditioning may not stop working entirely until it’s almost 50°C, but it starts to lose effectiveness well before that. On those super-hot days, water and a nice breeze—from ceiling fans and other types of fans—might be the only things that can make conditions tolerable.

Ceiling fans really shine when you only need a little cooling and when you need a lot. At the lower end of the cooling spectrum, they’re a good value as a substitute for air conditioning. At the higher end, they can provide an effective form of cooling when it’s so hot that the AC is losing its effectiveness. That’s why ceiling fans have been a classic addition to Australian homes and gardens in the past and will continue to be far into the future.