At home

Cooling systems

Keeping your home cool in summer doesn't have to be expensive. Choose the right cooling system and you’ll not only save energy, you won’t be wasting your money either.

You can also prevent heat entering your home through simple measures such as making use of ventilation and shading opportunities, and with effective insulation and draught proofing.

What’s the best type of cooling system?

The best cooling system is a well designed and well oriented home – one that optimises natural breezes and shading. However, if extra cooling is required, you should take into account climate, the size of the area you want to cool and the temperature you want to maintain.

Fans are the most energy efficient method of cooling. As well as being the cheapest to purchase and run, they operate quietly and are suitable for rooms of all sizes.

Evaporative coolers absorb heat from the air and blow cooler, moister air into a room. They are generally not recommended east of the Great Dividing Range, as they require low humidity to cool effectively.

Refrigerated air-conditioners remove hot air from inside the home and transfer it outside. They have the highest purchase and running costs, and are best suited to very hot climates where the required comfort level can't be provided by other cooling options. Reverse-cycle models also provide heating in winter.

Running costs

Room size

Suitable cooler type

Energy star rating

Annual cost ~

Small room
(10 m2)

Electric split system air-conditioner 3 kW output




Portable or ceiling fan



Medium room
(35 m2)

Electric split system air-conditioner 5.5 kW output





Portable or ceiling fan



Large area
(60 m2)

Electric split system air-conditioner 8 kW output




2 x portable or ceiling fans



Whole house
(166 m2)

Ducted air-conditioning 20 kW (not zoned)




Evaporative cooling 16 kW



4 x portable or ceiling fans



~ Approximate annual running costs, based on 500 hours usage per year (over a 10-year period) at 65 per cent capacity, with NSW household electricity prices at July 2013, and on a comparison of one and 3.5 star rated air-conditioners with a power output of approximately 5 kW.

Comparative costs


Cost of purchase & installation

Running cost
(per hour)

Portable fan

Up to $100

Less than 1 cent

Ceiling fan

$70 -200

1 cent

Portable evaporative cooler*

$200 -400

1-3 cents

Fixed evaporative cooler*

$1000 -1300

4 cents

Ducted evaporative cooler*

$2000 -3000

8-12 cents

Portable air-conditioner

$800 -3000

6-8 cents

Window or wall mounted air-conditioner

$500 -3500

22-30 cents

Split system air-conditioner

$2000 -5000

20-28 cents

Ducted air-conditioner


40-60 cents ( per 150m2)

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Page last updated: 10 December 2015