Think Energy Star When Upgrading Air Conditioning

Published on: July 25, 2012

Created in 1992 by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Energy Star program makes it easier for consumers to identify and buy energy-efficient products without compromising on features and performance. Many Energy Star products, including cooling and heating systems, carry an Energy Guide label as well as the familiar Energy Star logo. The yellow Energy Guide label shows the product’s annual operation costs as compared to non-Energy Star models.

To be awarded an Energy Star label, a product must meet specific efficiency standards as established by the EPA. When it comes to AC installation, one of the most important requirements is an assurance that if the air conditioning systems costs more than less-efficient systems, consumers must be able to recover that additional cost through monthly savings on energy bills. This allows you to choose an Energy Star AC installation with confidence, knowing that you’ll recoup your investment within a reasonable amount of time.

The EPA uses product-specific criteria to develop Energy Star standards. For room air conditioners to earn the Energy Star label, they must operate at 10 percent better energy efficiency than their non-Energy Star counterparts. For central air conditioning systems, criteria is more complex. Overall, they must be around 14 percent more energy efficient than standard systems. To reach that standard, systems must have high SEER and EER ratings

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) compares the system’s cooling capacity, as measured in BTUs (British thermal units), to the electrical power needed to run the system, as measured in watts. It’s similar to the miles-per-gallon rating given to cars. The Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) measures the efficiency of a system when the air outdoors is at a specific temperature. By choosing an AC installation with an Energy Star label, you’ll ensure that the system will save energy throughout the cooling season and will save energy on particularly hot days as well.

Air conditioning systems earn Energy Star ratings with energy-efficient components, including highly efficient compressors. Compressors are what makes the refrigerant in an air conditioning system cool. Variable-speed compressors compress the refrigerant according to the temperature of the air outside, working at full power only on extremely hot days. Because this allows the air handler more time to rid indoor air of humidity, the system provides a more comfortable environment while saving energy.

Energy-efficient products save you money on energy bills. Whether you’re looking for a new room air conditioner, a new central air conditioning system or a split system that provides forced-air cooling without ductwork, Energy Star labels and guides provide valuable information about the product’s energy efficiency.