Energy Efficient Air Conditioners
Air conditioners are one of the modern inventions that truly make life more comfortable. There is nothing like being able to relax indoors and take a break from the sweltering summer heat. Fortunately, AC units have progressed a long way and now you can enjoy a cool home without having to deal with skyrocketing utility bills. Air conditioners are more energy-efficient than ever before so that you can enjoy more value for every dollar you spend. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about energy-efficient air conditioners.
What to Look for in an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner
The first thing you will want to determine is the right size air conditioner for your home. If your AC system is too small, it will have to work harder to cool your space, which will shorten the life of the system and run up your energy bills. At the same time, a unit that is oversized based on the square footage will cool your home, but it won’t be able to remove humidity and cool the air at the same pace. This will cause the air to feel clammy and damp and will also shorten the life of the unit. To maximize performance and get the best return on your investment, you will need the right size unit.
Air conditioners come with British thermal unit (BTU) ratings that will help you find the right amount of output for your home. Technically, a BTU represents the amount of heat it takes to raise the temperature of “one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.” The range of BTUs you will need to cool your home will depend on the size of your home and the type of climate you live in.
For example, as a general rule, you can expect to need 20 BTU for every square foot of space. If you live in a 1,000 square foot home, you will need an air conditioner with around a 20,000 BTU rating. It is also important to take into consideration where you live. For homes in northern states where the summers are more mild, you will be fine purchasing a model that is on the lower end of your BTU range. However, in southern states where the summers are hot and sticky, you will want to invest in a more powerful model.
Types of Air Conditioners
Split air conditioners. This type consists of an exterior compressor and a fan system that pushes air through the ducts. Since the compressor can be noisy and produce heat, it is placed outside the home.
Central or packaged air conditioning. This air conditioner is often referred to as packaged air because it is used in situations where there is both heat and air conditioning. It operates much like a split air system and pushes cool air throughout the duct work to cool your home.
Ductless mini-split. You don’t necessarily have to have existing duct work to enjoy air conditioning. A ductless mini-split system has an exterior compressor and an interior section that can be mounted on the wall. It can be placed high and out of the way and adjusted using a remote control. These types of air conditioners are used in situations where it would be too expensive to retrofit the room with duct work. Models are capable of cooling spaces from 200 to 2,000 square feet and are great for home additions.
Window units. These self-contained units can be permanently installed in the window or only placed in there when needed. If you rarely need air conditioning or you only like to use it when you are sleeping, this could be a good solution for cooling your space. They come in a variety of sizes and cooling capacities.
Portable air conditioners. Oftentimes, portable air conditioners look like dehumidifiers and come in a cabinet that can be wheeled around. The main thing that you need to know about this option is that it will need to be vented to the outdoors and should come with a kit that will help you achieve this.
Energy Star Air Conditioners
The easiest way to identify an energy efficient air conditioner model is to look for a blue Energy Star label. This certification means that the product has met strict guidelines that are detailed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These certified air conditioners have a higher SEER rating and use 8% less energy than other models.
If you aren’t familiar with the term SEER or seasonal energy efficiency ratio, this is basically a number that indicates how efficient an air conditioner is. A higher SEER rating means that you will save money each month on your utility bills. Of course, more efficient equipment means more of an upfront investment, so you will have to weigh these factors as you shop for the right model.
Today, the lowest SEER rating you can have with a newly manufactured air conditioner is 14. If your unit is 15 years or older, it could have a SEER rating of under 10. As technology has progressed and our understanding of environmental impact has increased, air conditioners have become more efficient and the standard has been raised. Every year, the maximum SEER rating increases and now it is easy to find an AC model with a SEER rating well into the 20s.
As you look at AC prices, it can be tempting to go with a lower SEER rating to save some money, but it is important to think about the long term. Going with a 16 SEER model over a 14 SEER will provide you with around 13% more efficiency. Another way to think about it is that for every extra $100 you spend on your AC unit, you will save $13 a month on electricity. That can certainly add up over time.
All the important information about the AC unit can be found on the yellow energy guide sticker. This is where you can find out about BTUs, SEER ratings, energy-star certifications, and other details.
High-Efficiency Air Conditioner
In addition to SEER and BTU numbers there are some other features that you may want to look for in new air conditioners.
- Programmable settings. Today, even window units come with digital controls and displays that make it easy to set the temperature. There are also models that will allow you to schedule the AC to lower or completely turn off when you are at work or out of town.
- Energy-saving setting. This setting means that both the compressor and the fan will turn off once that space has been cooled. This is another way to conserve energy and operate more efficiently.
- WiFi. If you enjoy having a smart home that allows different devices to communicate with each other, you will love a WiFi enabled AC. This will allow you to control the AC using your smartphone, Alexa, or Google device. By fine tuning your energy usage from anywhere, you can enjoy great savings and a super adjustable system.
2 Stage Air Conditioner
Another option for improving overall energy-efficiency is to purchase a two-stage cooling system. These types of air conditioners or heat pumps come with a compressor that operates at two separate levels. It will run on high on hot summer days and switch to low when the temperatures are more mild. The low setting is enough to cool the home about 80% of the time.
A one-stage air conditioner really only has one gear. It will either be running at 100% or be completely off. While this is still an effective way to cool the home, it isn’t nearly efficient as a two-stage model. In addition, the starting and stopping can be noisy throughout the day. The main advantage of a one-stage model is the cost. If you are on a budget, this may be the best option for you.
Two-stage models do offer quite a few advantages that go beyond efficiency. While they do come with a higher price tag, you will save money over time on utility bills. They will also help you maintain a more constant temperature in the home and prevent highs and lows. Finally, the longer cooling cycles mean that the air conditioner is much quieter.
Variable Speed AC Unit
When it comes to air conditioner performance and efficiency, variable speed units are the top of the line. A standard air conditioner will kick into gear when the temperature goes above the temperature indicated on the thermostat and will turn off when the home has been properly cooled. A variable speed unit constantly runs at a low speed to maintain the air temperature. It is able to ramp up and down based on how much cool air you actually need. This means that for most of the time, it is only running at 40% of its total capacity.
It is important to remember that your AC uses the largest amount of energy when it is turning on and off. Eliminating this need altogether significantly improves efficiency. Another benefit of constantly moving a small amount of cool air is that the AC can better remove humidity. Your home will be more comfortable and more efficient on several different levels.
Typically, variable speed units come with a higher SEER rating, but even if you compare a 18 SEER standard one-stage air conditioner with a 18 SEER variable speed unit, you will have a vastly different experience. Variable speed units are simply more efficient, quieter, and better at removing humidity from the air.
It is also important to remember that the SEER rating is an indication of the maximum performance of a unit when all the conditions are just right. It is similar to the miles per gallon (MPG) ratings on your car. Your car runs more efficiently on the highway than in the city where there is more stop and go. MPGs can also be impacted by your own driving habits. If you have a tendency to stomp on the gas instead of gradually speeding up, you will consume more gas.
In the case of air conditioners, the actual SEER can be lowered based on a lot of factors. For example, if the unit wasn’t installed properly or there are loose joints in the duct work, you won’t be able to maximize performance.
Because a variable speed ac unit is the high-quality and most efficient option on the market, it also costs the most. It is a huge improvement over a one-stage unit and will provide you with significant monthly energy savings. However, if you are on a budget, a two-stage unit is a solid compromise that will improve efficiency and help keep your home cool.
Superior Customer Service
Our technicians also have a clear commitment to providing superior customer service. Again, having to deal with AC repairs can be stressful, but we want to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Our friendly technicians will answer all your questions, leave your space cleaner than they found it, and make sure that you have a positive experience.
At Comfort Caddies, our goal is to exceed your expectations and simplify the AC repair process for our customers. We are creating a new standard when it comes to service and we think that you will notice the difference. Contact us today for the best in AC repair services throughout the Naples, Florida, area.