When it’s hot outside, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of stepping into a cool, comfortable home. But did you know that your air conditioner can be one of the biggest energy gobblers in your home? That’s why it’s important to choose an energy-efficient air conditioner that will help you save money on your energy bills.
If your cooling system is more than 15 years old, you can save lots of money on your utility bills by looking for a system with a high SEER rating.
One way to choose an energy-efficient air conditioner is to look at the SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it’s a measure of how efficiently an air conditioner uses energy. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner.
For example, an air conditioner with a SEER rating of 16 will use about 16% less energy than an air conditioner with a SEER rating of 13. So, if you’re looking to save money on your energy bills, it’s worth choosing an air conditioner with a high SEER rating, ranging from 16 to 26.
What is a SEER Rating?
In the HVAC industry, the SEER rating is calculated by dividing the cooling output by the power output in a typical cooling season. A higher SEER rating is better, so look for a rating over 16.
The Department of Energy, or COE, requires all new air conditioning systems to meet minimum SEER requirements, which you can find (usually) on a sticker somewhere on the exterior of the device. There is another type of rating called an EER rating, or Energy Efficiency Ratio, which reflects instantaneous efficiency and cooling power delivery, rather than measuring it over a season. This rating is mainly used to measure the efficiency of window units, as they might not cool over the whole season.
The higher the rating, the less you’ll end up paying monthly for electricity, since the SEER rating directly correlates to the amount of power a unit uses to cool your area. The standard for the northern states since 2015 is 13, so every unit you purchase needs to have a minimum SEER (or EER) of 13, and the DOE will change it to 14 this year.
The minimum in the South and Southwest is higher because of the scorching temperatures in these states. If you live in these areas, look for a sticker that shows the SEER rating is 15 or above. Here are a few other tips for choosing an energy-efficient air conditioner:
Get the Right-Sized Air Conditioner
An air conditioner that’s too small won’t be able to cool your home effectively, and an air conditioner that’s too large will waste energy. Not only that, overly large air conditioners are noisy, and the extra humidity can lead to moisture and mold problems.
Make sure that your HVAC technician goes by the ACCA (Air Conditioner Contractors of America) manual, which allows for one ton (12,000 BTUs) of cooling ability per 400 to 500 square feet of living space. This calculation doesn’t take into account local climate variability or the degree to which your home is insulated and sealed, so you can count on one ton per 800 to 1,000 square feet of space.
Choose a System with the Right Features
It’s important to ask the right questions before installing a new AC unit. Some air conditioners come with features like variable-speed compressors and smart thermostats that can help you save even more energy. Climate control is a work in progress, and there are differences between units with various ratings. Here’s a breakdown:
- 13 to 18.5 SEER rating: Single-stage ACS cycle from on to off, and remove less humidity as they function. They’re usually combined with single-stage or multi-speed blowers.
- 16 to 20 SEER rating: The next rung for quality climate control, these units usually have two stages – low and high. High runs at 100% and low is 35% or 40%. To enhance indoor comfort, most AC units in this range have multistage blowers.
- 19 to 26 SEER rating: These units are top-of-the-line and have variable capacity compressors, which allow you to program them to use 15% of its cooling power or 100% at the highest setting. With consistent climate control, you have less of a chance you’ll develop a mold problem.
The final assessment comes to this – not only does the higher-rated units save you money down the line, but the consistent climate control avoids future problems. Even if you live in a climate in which you only use the cooling capabilities of your HVAC system for a couple of months, you should still consider a variable or two-stage capacity unit that has a higher SEER rating. The downside is that the more complicated the device, the more expensive it will be to fix it if it breaks down.
Install the Air Conditioner Properly
Make sure your air conditioner is installed by a qualified technician to ensure that it’s running efficiently. If you try to install it yourself, or you do a poor job, you could be creating larger problems down the lines.
There’s a lot of HVAC tips & advice out there to help, but following these tips should help you to choose an energy-efficient air conditioner that will help you save money on your energy bills and keep your home cool and comfortable all summer long. To find an HVAC service provider in your area, contact At Home Pros first; our professionals will help you find a seasoned local expert.