What’s the Ideal Air Conditioning Temperature for Winter?
You can take the recent cold snap as a good indication that it’s time for your reverse cycle air conditioning to be switched from cooling to heating. Now, the million dollar question is: how do you set the air conditioner to a temperature that pleases everyone and doesn’t cause energy bills to skyrocket? Well, you don’t need to phone a friend or even settle for 50:50. The answer, regardless of climate, is 24 degrees during the day and then a little lower during the night. Here’s why:
Why It’s Important to get Temperature Right
This may seem obvious, but it’s imperative that you get your indoor air temperature right throughout the winter months, and the reasons go well beyond comfort. They include:
Virus & Disease Prevention: Too much exposure to cold air reduces the effectiveness of your mucous membrane. These membrane cells work to protect your body from pathogens and viruses. Without adequate protection, you can become more susceptible to common colds, the flu and other serious health concerns.
Asthma: When the winter air is too cold, its water content won’t evaporate as effectively, leading to higher humidity in the home. Asthma sufferers won’t need to be reminded that humidity can impact breathing. Breathing in humid air can trigger asthma as nerves in the lungs narrow and tighten the airways making it difficult to breathe.
Humidity also brings allergens, diminishing air quality through pollen, mould and dust – all of which can affect asthma.
Overheating: Setting the air conditioning temperatures too high can lead to overheating, especially at night when there’s the added warmth generated by bedding. Being overheated can cause sweating, exhaustion, dehydration, heat rash and heatstroke in severe cases.
The elderly are at a much higher risk of overheating in the home as the aging body can no longer regulate temperature effectively.
Running Costs: The harder your air conditioner has to work, the more energy it consumes. Setting to a high of 30 degrees in winter or a low of 18 degrees in summer may seem appealing, but it won’t be efficient. The additional energy required to achieve these results would cost more money than if you had settled for a comfortable middle ground.
Environmental Impact: Hardworking systems can be detrimental to the environment. They consume a lot of electricity. The more electricity used, the more greenhouse gases vent out into the environment. So when it comes to heating and cooling, an AC unit that has to work harder or one that’s not energy efficient will leave a more substantial carbon footprint.
What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner in Winter?
So what is the best temperature for air conditioners in winter? The answer will differ throughout the day.
The ideal temperature for winter nights according to Healthline is between 15.6°C and 19.4°C for adults and between 20°C and 22.2°C for babies. These temperatures take into consideration sleep attire and winter bedding, so set the thermostat accordingly.
Of course, the best temperature for everyone is slightly different. Some people can run hot, and others run cold. So the ideal temperature for comfort will always differ. Your best course of action is to discuss it with your family to achieve a happy, efficient medium.
If your primary concern is running costs, Origin Energy suggests that you should never set your thermostat below 24°C during the day, as every additional degree consumes 5 per cent more energy. So setting your air conditioning to 20 degrees would use 20 per cent more power than an AC set to 24°C. Other sources go so far as to claim that every degree lower uses an additional 10 per cent of energy.
With heating and cooling being the heaviest hitters on your energy bill, sticking to the recommended temperature will improve energy efficiency and increase savings on your next electricity bill.
What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?
The temperature indicated by the thermostat doesn’t necessarily represent the current temperature of the rooms in a home. It’s possible to set your air conditioning thermostat to 24°C only for the room to become hotter or remain colder.
If this is the case, your air con may be the incorrect size – as in, too powerful for a home of that size or not powerful enough. Here are the best air conditioners per room size:
If you currently rely on a correctly sized system and are not achieving the desired results, you may want to consider improving the heating efficiency of your home.
How to Improve Heating Efficiency
Modern homes are designed with thermal efficiency in mind, as stipulated in the Building Code of Australia. Contemporary guidelines were implemented in the last few decades, so if your home was around for Mad Max, the moon landing or even the Melbourne Olympics, then you may need to take some further steps to make the house retain its warmth. Here are a few tips and suggestions:
Clean the filters: The simplest thing you can do to improve the performance of your air conditioner is to clean its filters. It doesn’t take long for them to become clogged by dust. Every three months, remove the filters, brush off the dust, wash them in warm water before air drying, and return them to the air conditioner.
Improve Insulation: Around 25 – 35 per cent of heat enters and exits a house through the ceiling. Fitting the interior of your roof cavity with batts or loose-fill foam can trap that desirable warmth in the winter and stop a significant portion from entering during the summer.
Seal draughts: That undesirable chill can enter through cracks and gaps around doors and windows. It’s not so much a problem for modern homes but can be an issue for heritage housing. Consider sealing gaps, and as an additional 10 per cent of heat enters and exits through floorboards, insulating under the floor wouldn’t go astray.
Windows and Curtains: Another 10 per cent of heat enters and exits a home via the windows. You can take advantage of this during the day by opening the curtains and letting the sun’s heat transfer to your home. After dark, close the curtains to help keep that heat from escaping.
Book an air conditioner service: Having a technician go over your air con once a year can make sure it lasts the distance, runs smoothly and operates safely. During the AC service, a licensed technician will ensure all internal parts are working efficiently, chemical clean the unit, catch minor faults before they become major ones, check refrigerant gas levels and top up if required.
And with that information, you should be well on your way to improving the heating, comfort, health and savings of your winter air conditioning. If your system needs a service or you would like to explore the possibilities of a new system with improved energy efficiency, call us today!
Published: 23 Apr, 2021