Part 2b/10 Saving the Planet by Cooling Less

This is Part 2b of a 10 part series of blogs in support of the 10:10 campaign  initiated by Franny Armstrong’s team to complement the documentary on global warming, “The Age of Stupid”. It is to enable each one of us to take action to reduce our carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.  Download the 10 point family checklist from the campaign here.

The Checklist lists “Saving 10% on heating” as Step Number 2.  I’ve modified this for warmer countries and included this section on reducing cooling bills from airconditioning.  Here are the things you can do to reduce your cooling bills and the related carbon emissions from energy use.


1.  Choose the airconditioner that is sized correctly for the room. If it’s too big or small for the room in terms of cooling capacity, it won’t not be efficient. Learn more about AC sizing in the US Department of Energy website under “Sizing Heating and Cooling Systems”

2.  Unblock the condenser unit by clearing any debris or obstruction that may restrict the airflow. Ensure the condenser unit is not under direct sunlight. You can save about 10% of your AC bill by keeping the condenser unit in the shade.

3. Close doors and windows when air-conditioning is on, to prevent warm air from coming in. Make sure the seal between the air-conditioner and the window frame is airtight to prevent cool air from escaping outside. Use drapes and blinds to keep too much direct sunlight out.

4.  Use a ceiling or standing fan instead of an air-conditioner. This can lead to huge energy savings. Make sure the fan is blowing down. If it faces up, it is only pushing back warm air from the ceiling back to the floor, and won’t give a cooling effect. When the air is cool outside, open the windows and let the breeze in.

5.  Don’t overcool the room. Set temperature between 24 to 25 degrees Celsius. Adjusting your thermostat just two degrees higher can save hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide through reduced electricity consumption.

6. Service your air-conditioners regularly.  Cleaning both the evaporator coils (indoors) and the condenser coils (outdoors). Also check the refrigerant level which is the fluid enabling the cooling. Check that the compressor, fan, and all the electrical fittings inside are working properly. Clean air conditioning filters regularly, once a month preferably, to remove dust and allow for proper air flow. Unclog the drain channels of the airconditioner.

7.  Choose the right air-conditioner settings. Instead of an “outside” air setting (which brings in warm air from outside) choose a “re-circulate” air setting which re-cools indoor air. A “high speed fan” setting helps save energy by blowing cool air into the room quickly. Keep your air-conditioner on “fan-mode” and use a ceiling or standing fan to supplement. This saves energy.

8. Use air-conditioners with Inverter technology.  These vary the speed of the compressors, so when indoor temperatures reach a certain temperature level, the compressors are operated at low speeds to maintain the temperature. This saves more than 40% of energy costs compared to conventional air-conditioners which use the on/off technology. So Inverter systems are quieter, more energy efficient and place less stress on the equipment.

9. Use heat-resistant panels on windows. They keep indoor temperatures at 30°C even on extremely hot days. Reflective blinds also help to keep the room cooler.

10. Install a radiant barrier made of aluminium foil-like material on the underside of your roof (especially if you live in a house with a roof, or the top floor of a building). This blocks heat that falls on the roof, and keeps the top floor or attic cooler.

11. Install an attic fan on the roof of the house.  Hot air tends to get trapped at the top of the house. The attic fan acts as an exhaust to help expel the hot air especially in multi-level establishments.

12.  Switch off the airconditioner if you’re not going to come back to the room within half an hour or so. It’s not necessary to keep the house constantly cool. If you leave the AC on throughout the day, it is constantly absorbing heat which it has to cool, and this wastes energy.

13. Reduce heat sources. Conventional light bulbs give 10% light and 90% heat, which has to be cooled by the AC. Instead use compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) which give off about 80% less heat, and use about a quarter of the energy. 

Also make sure that while cooking, shut the kitchen door. The hot air from the kitchen won’t reduce the AC’s cooling effect this way.

14.  Plant trees outside the house if you have a garden. They have a natural cooling effect on the house.

15.  Choose or build a house with north-south orientation, as this absorbs less heat, as less direct sunlight falls on it.  Preferably use light paints on your walls, rather than dark colours which absorb more heat.


The ideas are from the free e-book which will be made available soon on this website called, “A Quicklist of 1001 Steps to Save the Planet”



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Posted by on Sep 26 2009. Filed under Carbon Footprint, Climate Change, Energy/Renewables. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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