Pet owners who keep their aircon on in the hot summer months
Pet owners who keep their aircon on in the hot summer months

Aussies keep aircon on for pets, even under the doona

EXCLUSIVE: Keeping the family pet cool and sleeping under the doona with aircon on to cope with Australia's extreme heatwave conditions is set to cost households $2 billion this summer.

New figures revealing the scale of the sting have emerged as Energy Minister Angus Taylor moves to introduce a new energy rating label to help consumers know the most cost-efficient air conditioners.

Mr Taylor expects the new label to come into effect in March this year following a short consultation process with industry and endorsement by state, territory and New Zealand officials. It would then be mandatory by April next year.

If approved, the current stickers will would be replaced by a "zoned energy rating" label that will show what air conditioner works best in Australia's different climate zones, along with the star rating used in the existing system.

News Corp understands the proposed new label would divide Australia into three climate regions, with models then rated by how efficiently they work within each zone.

The move comes after the COAG Energy Council agreed in December last year to reform the energy efficiency regulation of air conditioners and bring in a new label.

 

The current Australia/New Zealand specific energy rating label. Picture: Energy Rating website
The current Australia/New Zealand specific energy rating label. Picture: Energy Rating website

 

The proposed Zoned Energy Rating label. Picture: Energy Rating website
The proposed Zoned Energy Rating label. Picture: Energy Rating website

It also comes as the International Energy Agency's prediction that global energy demand from air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050.

"The new label will make it easier for customers to make an informed choice of which air conditioner works best in their climate zone, reducing their power bills," Mr Taylor said.

His comments come as new data obtained by News Corp from comparison website Mozo revealed 42 per cent of Australians keep the aircon on while under the doona.

That is an increase of 14 per cent compared to three years ago.

The cost to an average household sleeping in the cool is $436.80. This is based on running aircons in three rooms for eight hours every night during summer.

The national bill would be $1.53 billion.

Other results showed:

• 20 per cent of people leave their aircon on when they go out to cool their home before they return. Two hours of this every day costs $54.60 - with a national cost of $92 million.;

• 10 per cent of pet owners also leave one aircon on for their pet while they are out. At nine hours a day in a five-day week, this costs $156, adding a further $130 million to the collective bill;

• Nearly 24 per cent left fans on full blast instead of opening windows to let air in. At six hours a day, five days a week this added $8.78 to power bills - adding another $17 million;

• 18 per cent admitted to using aircon in the whole house instead of blocking off empty rooms. Five hours a day, four times a week, added an extra $39, or $58 million collectively.

• More than 12 per cent said they use dryers to dry laundry in summer. At four hours a day for three days a week, this costs an extra $62.40 or $65 million nationally.

The data was collated from more than 1000 Australians and is based on the estimated hours of use per week of a built-in 1900 watt split system airconditioning unit over 12 weeks of summer.

Industry research by Origin Energy shows portable airconditioning units, which may be cheaper to purchase, but they can cost anywhere between $68 to $201 a year more to run than a split-system or ducted unit.

Consumer site Canstar Blue finds split system air conditioners are generally the most energy-efficient as well as the most popular for their quiet operation and effective cooling.

Mozo director Kirsty Lamont warned homeowners not to wait for bill shock. She said they should make changes to their aircon habits, compare plans and consider switching providers.

Sarah Prgomelja, 30, and fiance Jamie Hayman, 29, who have a French bulldog named Edgar, 5. Picture: Richard Dobson
Sarah Prgomelja, 30, and fiance Jamie Hayman, 29, who have a French bulldog named Edgar, 5. Picture: Richard Dobson

'IT'S A NECESSITY WITH OUR DOG'

Jamie Hayman, 29, and his fiancee Sarah Prgomelja, 30, from Darlinghurst have their air conditioner turned on everywhere in their three-bedroom house when it's above 25C.

Mr Hayman told News Corp Australia they leave it on for 12-16 hours a day for most of the working week.

"We sleep in the attic and all the heat rises up there and we'd prefer to have a more comfortable sleep than leave the door open as Sydney has a big mosquito problem," he said.

He said the air conditioner has definitely added to the cost of their power bill, which was $1200 last quarter. It has doubled from their previous bill of $600.

Mr Hayman said they have to have their air conditioner on for their french bulldog Edgar, 5, who sleeps in their living room.

 

Sarah Prgomelja, 30, and fiance Jamie Hayman, 29. They leave the aircon on to keep their dog Edgar cool and sleep with it on when it’s hot. Picture: Richard Dobson
Sarah Prgomelja, 30, and fiance Jamie Hayman, 29. They leave the aircon on to keep their dog Edgar cool and sleep with it on when it’s hot. Picture: Richard Dobson

 

"I feel like it's a necessity with our dog, he's a Frenchie and the heat affects him three times more than any other dog," he said.

"When we walk him we need to go to a cool house and he needs to cool down.

"I have to be vigilant with how he lives or it can become quite dangerous.

"That's the only reason we really consider it now … it's all about Edgar, that's our number one priority."

But the couple said aircon was still a "luxury item" for them.

"We also have a pond with about 10-12 Koi fish in it that's around 4-5 metres, so that takes up a lot of power too," he added.

"But when we are not home, we try not to have it on."

 

'WE WANT TO MAKE THEM COMFORTABLE'

Anna Morris, 20, and her fiance Ben Dawborn, 20, leave their air conditioner on for the comfort of their two rescue cats Noodles, 11, and Snippy 9.

The Williamstown couple told News Corp Australia both of their cats don't live outdoors as they are prone to skin cancer.

"If it's a hot night, we leave it on a low setting for them while we are sleeping in our bedroom and they sleep on our bed," Ms Morris said.

 

Anna Morris, 20, and fiance Ben Dawborn, 20 leave the aircon on for their cats Noodles and Snippy. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Anna Morris, 20, and fiance Ben Dawborn, 20 leave the aircon on for their cats Noodles and Snippy. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

 

"Both have recovered from skin cancer on their ears which had to be cut out before we got them, and Snippy had a cancer on the nose."

"If they didn't have aircon I think they'd be okay, but we want to make them as comfortable as possible, as they were strays for a while and the harsh elements took a toll on their bodies.

"With the skin cancers and everything, they've been through a lot."

Mrs Morris said they only use aircon in their bedroom, while they have a doona or blanket on at the same time in their one bedroom unit.

She said their power bill had increased with the use of aircon, which they see as a "luxury item" they use for a third of the day in hot summer months.

This month they paid nearly $300 on their energy bill, which doubled from being $150 in August last year. She said 80 per cent of the bill was from their air conditioner.

"The bill has definitely skyrocketed this summer, and if we aren't home we leave it off," she said.

 

Anna Morris, 20, and fiance Ben Dawborn, 20 leave the aircon on for their cats Noodles and Snippy. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Anna Morris, 20, and fiance Ben Dawborn, 20 leave the aircon on for their cats Noodles and Snippy. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

 

"But we're really good at saving money on other things, we don't like to spend a lot on luxuries as we're saving for a house."

Ms Morris said they're environmentally conscious and recycle and reuse items where possible.

They only do one load of washing a week and use a washing line as they don't have a dryer.

"We have gas on the stove and are paying for that as well as electricity which is annoying but we cook a lot of things and don't order in," she said.

"We're both vegans and foodies and love to make own stuff so we know what's in it. We make our own bread, yoghurt and pasta to save on plastic packaging too."

 

HOW TO KEEP COOL IN THE HEAT

*Set the temperature on your aircon to between 25 and 27C: even one degree higher can save between 5 and 10 per cent on your energy use

*Consider a programmable thermostat for your air conditioner to set it to suit your schedule

*If your air conditioner has an outdoor compressor, try providing it with shading

*Clean air conditioner filters regularly

*Close windows, doors, curtains and blinds in the room/s being cooled down to avoid heat being lost

*Portable and ceiling fans cost a fraction of running an air conditioner for the same room, but turn them off when the room is empty

*Draught-proof by sealing gaps around windows and doors to keep cool air in and hot air out

*Shade exterior windows (especially north and west-facing ones) using blinds inside and awnings or pergolas outside. Deciduous trees, bushes or vines will also provide heat protection

*Check insulation in ceilings and walls so cool air stays where it's needed most

*Turn appliances off at the wall as many give off heat

*When temperatures drop outside open your home up to the evening breeze to cool it down.

Source: Energy.gov.au