It is that time of the year again when the temperature is climbing regularly into the high 30s and even into the 40s on some days.
Spain’s warm and sunny climate is a major attraction for residents and tourists alike. However, the scorching summer heat can often make indoor living uncomfortable. This is where air conditioners come to the rescue, providing cool relief from the outside temperatures. But using your air conditioner wisely in Spain is not just about staying comfortable – it’s also about conserving energy and saving on your electricity bills. In this blog post, we’ll explore some smart strategies to help you strike a balance between comfort and efficiency.
1. Set the Right Temperature
Choosing the right temperature setting on your air conditioner is crucial. While it might be tempting to set the thermostat to a very low temperature, it can lead to unnecessary energy consumption and higher bills. A recommended indoor temperature for optimal comfort is around 24-26°C (75-78°F). This not only keeps you comfortable but also helps save energy.
We have ours set to 24°C and find it very comfortable. Setting it to something like 16°C is not going to make it work faster by having a more challenging target to aim for! Remember, the air conditioner unit also removes humidity which is the factor that makes extreme heat more unpleasant. High humidity stops your body sweating as efficiently, so making you feel hotter. My suggestion is try 24°C and see how well it works for you – chances are you will not need to drop much below this.
2. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Investing in a programmable thermostat can be a game-changer when it comes to using your air conditioner wisely. This technology allows you to schedule temperature adjustments throughout the day, so you can raise the temperature when you’re not at home and cool it down before you return. This way, you can enjoy a comfortable environment without wasting energy cooling an empty space.
When our air conditioning was installed we opted for the wifi module which allows the units to be controlled with an app, or even by Google Home / Alexa. You can create schedules for when to come on or switch off. Even better, you can create rules so if you forget to switch the air conditioner off and then go out, the app will turn it off for you. The app even allows you to switch it back on remotely. Handy if you are coming home from somewhere, you can put the AC on so it is nice and cool on your arrival!
3. Practice Proper Insulation
Before relying solely on your air conditioner, ensure your home is properly insulated. Good insulation prevents cool air from escaping and warm air from entering, reducing the workload on your AC unit. Seal any gaps around windows, doors, and other potential air leaks to maintain a consistent indoor temperature.
4. Utilize Natural Ventilation
During the cooler parts of the day, like early mornings and evenings, take advantage of natural ventilation. Open windows strategically to let in fresh air and create cross-ventilation, which can help regulate indoor temperatures without relying heavily on your air conditioner. Even when the day time temperature is in the high 30s, it can drop to 22°C at night. Use a fan near a window to suck that cooler air in and blow it around your home.
5. Maintain Your AC System
Regular maintenance is key to keeping your air conditioner operating efficiently. Replace or clean air filters as dirty filters obstruct airflow and make the system work harder. Spain is a very dusty place, you will see your filters get clogged up very quickly. If you have ceiling fans, you will know it only takes a couple of weeks for them to get caked in dust.
Another part that is often neglected is the outside condenser unit. This is the noisy bit that blows hot air when the air conditioning is switched on. Make sure this is not obstructed, and the metal heat exchanger is not dirty. Give it a treat and brush it every few months.
Finally, schedule annual professional maintenance to ensure all components are in optimal condition.
6. Opt for Energy-Efficient Appliances
If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner, consider investing in an energy-efficient model. Look for units with a high Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating, as they consume less energy while providing the same cooling effect.
DC inverters are the most efficient types to look for. These allow the “speed” of the air conditioner to be varied to maximise efficiency when maintaining a set temperature. The older units are either on or off. This makes them more noisy as well as less efficient.
All modern air conditioners also have the option for app control. I can highly recommend this as it gives you a lot more flexibility in how you use the system.
7. Create Shade
External heat sources, such as direct sunlight, can significantly heat up your home. Strategically placing blinds, curtains, or shades on windows that receive direct sunlight can help reduce the need for excessive cooling.
If you have windows shutters, use them in the daytime to keep the glare of the sun (and heat) outside.
We have also installed limo tint on some of our windows that get more sunlight than others. This does make the room darker, but drastically cuts the amount of heat that gets in. You can buy rolls of limo tint from Amazon or nearly any “Chino bazar” type store in the automotive section. A sheet costs around 10€ and is very easy to fit. Just use plenty of soapy water and have a sharp craft knife to cut the film cleanly.
9. Opt for Fans
Ceiling fans and portable fans can be great companions to your air conditioner. Fans help circulate cool air more efficiently, allowing you to set the thermostat slightly higher while still feeling comfortable.
Using your air conditioner wisely in Spain involves more than just cooling down your living space. By adopting these strategies, you can enjoy a comfortable environment while reducing energy consumption and lowering your electricity bills. Striking a balance between comfort and efficiency not only benefits your wallet but also contributes to a more sustainable future for both you and the planet.