How Does an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner Work?
Everyone wants to save money on their energy costs, but when summer rolls around and the mercury starts to rise, they have a different priority: keeping cool. Those two need not be mutually exclusive, though. With the advent of new, energy-efficient air conditioner systems, it’s possible to stay comfortable throughout the heat of the summer without breaking the bank.
The idea of an energy-efficient air conditioner might go against everything you thought you knew about cooling technology, though, so you understandably may want to learn more. In this article, we’ll detail how it’s possible to air condition your home while still making energy efficiency your priority.
How Your Air Conditioner Cools Your Home
Air conditioners do their jobs thanks to a family of chemicals called refrigerants, which sport unique properties. These refrigerants can absorb heat energy and are also what allows refrigerators to keep your food from spoiling. As hot air passes over the refrigerant, the liquid inside expands, utilizing the energy in the air to change its state to a gas and causing the air itself to condense as well. When the air condenses, it cools down. This now-cool air can be pumped through your home with the use of a fan and a system of ductwork.
So while the refrigerant itself is fairly unsophisticated, the actual cooling process requires a lot of motors, fans, and other mechanisms—and that means a lot of electricity—to do what it does. For this reason, years of research and development have been spent on the attempt to reduce the energy needs for air conditioning units.
What Does It Mean To Be Energy Efficient?
The term energy efficient is thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? It simply means to achieve the same effects while using less energy. But figuring out whether your air conditioner or other device is energy efficient is a more difficult question.
What makes measuring the energy efficiency of air conditioners difficult is the fact that temperatures across the country vary so widely. An air conditioner that is used in Minnesota may not have the same energy requirements as one in New Mexico. So it’s not enough to simply measure the electricity that is being used across the country.
That’s why researchers have created a system called the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER. This rating calculates the cost to run your energy-efficient air conditioner by multiplying the capacity with the number of hours it runs and the rate of electricity. The average of these numbers gives you the SEER rating. To receive the government’s ENERGY STAR designation, the SEER rating must be at least 15.
The Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER, is also measured to determine the energy costs of an air conditioning unit. This ratio is calculated from a base of an outdoor temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The EER rating must be at a minimum of 12.5 to receive the ENERGY STAR designation, indicating an energy-efficient air conditioner.
How to Improve Energy Efficiency
There are several methods that energy-efficient air conditioner systems utilize to reduce energy expenditure. The first thing that should be done is to ensure the rest of the home is properly sealed. Even a small air leak in a window somewhere can dramatically increase the cost of cooling. Windows and doorways should be properly sealed so that air can flow freely. Insulation should also be optimized. If your attic is poorly insulated, it won’t matter how efficient your air conditioner is. You will end up wasting energy anyway. Get an HVAC professional to come into your home to ensure that your energy bill isn’t needlessly high due to poor seals or poor insulation.
The next step is to opt for a more efficient air conditioning system. Needless to say, more modern systems will always be more efficient. If your air conditioner is 12 years old or older, consider replacing it so that you can save some money throughout the year. Even better if you can find an AC unit with the government’s ENERGY STAR rating. These models are designed to save as much power as possible.
The most energy-efficient air conditioner models are devices like heat pumps. Heat pumps utilize much less energy than other methods of cooling because they transfer heat energy from the home to the outside. They can also double as heaters, utilizing ambient heat from outdoors to warm the house. Another benefit of these types of air conditioners is that they can cool only the rooms that are currently occupied. They don’t waste energy cooling down rooms that no one is using. This alone can also save you a great deal of money. Replacing a traditional HVAC system with a heat pump can save you up to 50 percent on your energy bill, a proposition that is well worth considering.
How to Have an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner Installed
The first step in having an energy-efficient air conditioner installed is to find a knowledgeable technician in your area. This means spending some time doing your research. A simple online search may not be enough. You may have to read reviews, check references, and talk to other customers. Ask around to see if other customers have been satisfied with their work. If so, you can then discuss prospects for having a new HVAC system installed.
If you live in the Longview-Portland-Vancouver area, contact Entek. We have over 75 years of experience in the industry. We also keep up with the latest developments in the business to ensure that we are always at the cutting edge of HVAC technology. Contact us to discuss maximizing the energy efficiency of your air-conditioning system to reduce your bill and keep your home comfortable while saving money in the process.