Do you want to help the planet? Think of the issues around temperature control. Heating and cooling our homes, workplaces and vehicles is a big energy guzzler. A lot of thought goes into keeping warm in winter, but keeping cool in summer is another big issue. Do you use your aircon responsibly?

You may not have control over the aircon in your place of work, but you do have options in your car and at home. Vehicle air conditioners are a bigger issue than most of us realise. In hotter climates it’s estimated that their use accounts for up to a third of a car’s fuel consumption. Do the math – that’s a lot of fossil fuels going towards keeping people cool. There was also a lot of concern after studies showed that a commonly used refrigerant CFC-12, also known as R-12, was contributing to destruction of the ozone layer. Newer refrigerants and cooling systems are much improved but leaks into the atmosphere during servicing are still an issue.

It’s a fact that being in a vehicle that’s like an oven in midsummer is unpleasant. No-one wants to arrive at their destination drenched in sweat. But there are alternatives. Start by parking in the shadiest place you can find. Opening a sunroof or all windows just a couple of inches can do wonders. If you’re one of those people who has the aircon on and the windows open – that just defeats the object of the exercise. Does it matter if you perspire a bit on the way home? That cold shower will be even more refreshing, and a way to help the planet.

Because its so easy to flick a switch, using the home aircon can be the default option when temperatures soar. It may be unavoidable but you can minimize it’s use with simple measures. Drapes and blinds will delay the home heating up, as will double-glazed windows, that will also keep you warmer in winter, and are a great investment.

If life is unbearable without the air conditioning there’s still the big question about how to use it. Can you leave a window or two open? The answer is no – it overloads the system, which has to deal with more fluctuations in temperature and moisture. Do you leave it on at a constant temperature all day? Or do you let the home heat up and then cool it down with the aircon? The experts suggest that the more economical strategy is to switch it off when you’re not at home.
If you want to help the planet then just cutting a few minutes a day off the time you’re tempted to use the aircon can make a cumulative difference over a season. Combine that with upping your tolerance and other measures to keep the home or car cool, and you will be making a difference.

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