Energy Efficiency is a big topic when it comes to air conditioning. Austin residents want the best performance possible for the cooling and heating systems in their homes but there are so many options and factors, sometimes it can be difficult to make the right choice. How efficient is your current air conditioner? How much could you save by switching to a newer one? If you did switch, how should you choose a new air conditioner? How can you increase the energy efficiency of your current machine?
These are all important questions to consider. To help you consider them, read the overview below about energy efficiency in air conditioning, from what it means and how air conditioners are rated, to how to choose the right AC or increase your energy efficiency.
What is Energy Efficiency?
At its most basic definition, energy efficiency is the goal to reduce the amount of energy that is used to provide a service. Energy efficiency is measured by how much output you’re getting for the amount of input. Imagine you have two air conditioners. One draws a lot of energy and outputs a lot of cooling power. The other draws much less energy but also put out much less cooling. These air conditioners might be doing very different things but they have similar levels of energy efficiency. But if you have another air conditioner which takes less energy to give out the same cooling power, you’ve got an energy-efficient machine.
Energy efficiency isn’t an absolute descriptor. It’s relative. So, an energy-efficient air conditioner is just an air conditioner that is on the higher side of energy efficiency compared to the market average. That’s why picking an energy-efficient air conditioner is a little more complicated than just choosing one labeled energy efficient. You have to decide how efficient is efficient enough for you.
Why strive for greater energy efficiency? There are two reasons. The first is that it saves you money. This should be fairly intuitive. The less energy you’re using, the more money you’re saving on your monthly electricity bill. If you can use less energy and achieve the same level of comfort in your home, you’re golden. The second reason is that it’s better for the environment. By reducing the amount of energy your home draws from the grid, you’re reducing your carbon footprint. The way most of the world’s electricity is generated these days is still through non-renewable sources such as coal. The generation of electricity comes with the creation of greenhouse gases, so on an individual level, the less electricity you use, the less you’re contributing to environmental damage.
How Air Conditioners are Rated
There are three different rating acronyms you should be aware of when it comes to air conditioner energy efficiency ratings. The first, most common, and most important is SEER. SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. The ratio is the amount of energy that an air conditioner uses over one cooling season compared to the amount of cooling power it outputs. The reference outdoor temperature used in this calculation is 82 degrees. This is the most common number you’ll see when shopping for an energy-efficient air conditioner. Before 2006, the government minimum SEER rating for air conditioners was 10. It was raised to 13 in 2006 and 14 for most types of air conditioners in 2015.
EER is another important rating. In fact, it might be more important for some people. EER stands for energy efficiency ratio. EER is a more constant and universal measurement and will more likely be used by a technician or an engineer, whereas SEER is more of a marketing term. The EER is calculated using an outdoor temperature of 95, an indoor temperature of 80, a humidity level of 50%, and the amount of energy the air conditioning unit uses to keep it that way. In that way, EER is more objective. It can be used to compare any two air conditioners in any part of the country. SEER is more applicable in places with moderate summers and becomes less accurate in hot places like Austin. Air conditioning service means more efficiency for less money, and that can be defined with either a SEER or EER rating.
The last rating used to describe energy efficiency in air conditioning systems is the HSPF, which stands for heating seasonal performance factor. This is a similar calculation to the SEER rating, except that it is specific to heating power, as opposed to cooling. It is used specifically for air source heat pumps.
How to Choose an Energy-Efficient AC
If your air conditioner is ten years old or older it is generally recommended that it’s time to pick out a new replacement. Air conditioners that are ten years old or older almost certainly have very low energy efficiency compared to today’s top models. Over time, you’ll save money with the lower energy bills you’ll be getting with a new and more efficient model. Choosing the right air conditioning unit for you is not the simplest task. There are many brands, and each brand has many different models. There are different sizes to choose between and different types. Luckily, when it comes to energy efficiency, there is one simple sign to look for when choosing an air conditioner, Energy Star.
Energy Star is a program set out by the government’s Environmental Protection Agency. Its job is to test and rate as many categories of energy-using appliances as possible for their energy efficiency. They give products that meet certain standards of energy efficiency their blue Energy Star label. This makes it easy for consumers to take advantage of their extensive research and buy products that they can be certain meet a high standard of energy efficiency.
To give you an idea of what is out there as far as particularly energy-efficient machines go, here is a list of some of the top-rated air conditioners of 2016 for energy efficiency, according to Energy Star:
- Coleman Echelon Series: This series has SEER ratings of about 18.5 and EER ratings of about 14.5. They also include technology that reduces the amount of noise.
- Daiken Enhanced Capacity Series: This series has SEER ratings of 20 and EER ratings of about 13.5. They also include flexible wireless options for greater control.
- Lennox XC20: This unit series has SEER ratings from 19 to 20 and EER ratings from 13 to 14. This is a variable cooling system that will further help your energy efficiency.
- LG LAU/LAN: This series has SEER ratings ranging from 22 to 27.5 and EER ratings ranging from 12.5 to 15.7.
How to Increase Your Energy Efficiency
There’s more to energy efficiency than just getting a highly rated energy-efficient system. Your air conditioner has to be regularly cleaned and maintained in order to stay as efficient as it can and to operate at a peak performance level. On top of AC maintenance, there are other tricks you can do to keep your energy bill low without sacrificing any comfort.
Maintaining a steady airflow within the ducts of your house is the number one thing you should be doing in order to maximize energy efficiency. This means two things, changing air filters, and clearing ducts of leaks and debris. Vacuum the opening of your air ducts in order to clear away excess dust and debris. Next time you have an Austin air conditioning service company give you a regular maintenance check, ask them to check your ducts for leaks that can be sealed. And, of course, change your air filters regularly to preserve your air conditioner's energy efficiency.
If your air conditioner is damaged in any way, its energy efficiency is going to drop significantly. So, if you do notice a sudden rise in your electricity bill, even if there are no other symptoms, it might be worth checking if you need air conditioning repair. Austin has many AC repair companies capable of delivering top-notch service, for example, AC Express!
There are a number of other things you can do to easily improve the energy efficiency you’re getting out of your system. You’ll want to makes sure the area around your outdoor unit is clear of leaves and other debris that could clog and block the airflow. Keep lamps and other small sources of heat away from your thermostat. They can trick your thermostat into thinking it’s warmer than it is, causing your AC to run needlessly. Don’t use your oven or dryer during the hottest hours of the day. Both will heat up the house and cause the air conditioner to have to work harder to keep the house at the same temperature. Use fans in rooms that have them to improve circulation and take some of the cooling effort off your air conditioner. Keep your curtains and blinds closed during the daytime, as this will block heat from the sun from making your air conditioner have to work harder.
Efficient ACs and AC Repair in Austin
We know getting the most out of your air conditioning is important to you. There are so many options these days when it comes to air conditioners. From window units to whole house conditions, from two-stage systems to inverter systems and everything from the size to the SEER rating, the number of factors to consider is great. Luckily, you don’t have to be alone in this matter. AC Express is an Austin AC repair and service company that wants nothing more than to get you the best deal possible, the best air conditioning solution for your home.
With our expertise, we can help you make the best decision when it comes to energy-efficient air conditioning, whether that means just cleaning or repairing your current AC unit or choosing a highly rated, and energy-efficient new machine. When you want to increase your energy efficiency or you need any kind of repair on any model of air conditioner, call AC Express. We do same-day AC repair for all of those in the Austin area, whether that is Buda and Kyle or Round Rock and Georgetown. Call today!