Energy efficient air conditioners have an important role to play when it comes to responsible cooling. That’s because air conditioners cost homeowners across the United States more than $29 billion every year. In fact, 6% of all the electricity produced in the entire country is used by them. To make those numbers sound a little more personal, consider the following: in 2010, cooling accounted for more than 22% of the average US household electric bill, and Americans continue to spend more money cooling their homes than any other nationality in the world.
That being the case, you might be looking for a way to cut down on the amount of energy you use to cool your home. It’s better for the environment, and it will certainly be better for your bank account. Did you know that one of the easiest ways to cool your home for less money is through buying an energy efficient air conditioner? An energy efficient central air conditioner may use 30% to 50% less energy than older, less efficient units, according to the Department of Energy.
If you’re thinking about investing in an energy efficient air conditioner, you might be looking for some additional information. Not to worry; we’ve put together a guide to help you. Read on to discover more about shopping for energy efficient air conditioners, so that you can purchase one with confidence and stay cool for less.
Comparing Types of Energy Efficient Air Conditioners
Not all energy efficient air conditioners are central systems. In fact, there are several different types of air conditioners with energy efficient models. The following are some of the most common:
Central Air Conditioners
These air conditioners use a system of interconnected ducts and vents to circulate air throughout your home. They are favorites among many homeowners because they are generally unobtrusive, quiet, and simple to use. They are also usually more efficient than room air conditioners.
However, a central air conditioner must be properly sized and installed in order to function efficiently. If you are going to purchase a central air conditioning system for your home, be sure to have it installed by a licensed contractor who is capable of performing an accurate Manual J load calculation.
Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Ductless mini-split system air conditioners are commonly used in houses that do not have the ductwork required for a central air conditioning system. These air conditioners come in small wall-mounted units, several of which can be installed in any given room. It is generally impractical to use ductless mini-split air conditioners for the entirety of your cooling needs, since each unit is only capable of cooling a small area efficiently and running many at a time is unlikely to be cost-effective.
However, they are excellent for single rooms in homes where the ductwork does not exist or cannot be extended, as well as for small apartments.
Room Air Conditioners
While ductless mini-split systems offer a certain degree of flexibility, room air conditioners are explicitly intended to cool individual rooms in the spaces where they are used. They are generally less efficient than central air conditioners when comparing specs directly. However, when a room air conditioner is sized properly and used to cool a single room, it is considerably less expensive to operate than a central AC unit. Room air conditioners need to be sized properly to be effective, just like central systems. While the rule of thumb for size alone is to buy a system with 20 Btu per square foot of living space, the number of additional factors involved normally require the assistance of a licensed professional.
Understanding Efficiency: EER and SEER
The type of energy efficient air conditioner you purchase depends largely on your space and your habits. For example, small apartments or dwellings where the occupants spend most of their time in a single room may be best matched with room air conditioners, whereas larger dwellings with more occupants will probably want to consider a central system, or the use of mini-split systems if they cannot install ductwork. However, it’s important to understand more than just the difference between AC types. You should also know something about the way efficiency is measured.
There are two acronyms with which you should be familiar before you go AC shopping: EER and SEER. EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. It measures the efficiency with which the cooling system will function at a set outdoor temperature of 95 degrees. Higher EER ratings mean the system will be more efficient during peak day operations. However, SEER is also important, especially for systems in the central US. It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and measures cooling efficiency for a given system during the seasons when AC is most likely to be used.
One easy way to find energy efficient air conditioners with high EER and SEER ratings is to look for ENERGY STAR certified products. ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program designed to help consumers save money and the environment by purchasing quality energy-efficient products.
Choose According to Your Needs
When it comes to energy efficient air conditioners, different products will work best for different people. You should consider the space you need to cool and your personal habits when deciding on a type of system, and be sure to contact professional installers who can offer suitably efficient products. Then, choose an ENERGY STAR certified model with high EER and SEER levels, so that you can count on it to provide you with inexpensive cooling season after season.