Why Today’s AC Systems Are More Efficient

Published on: August 26, 2014
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Air conditioning systems represent one of the milestones of human achievement. Their innovative technologies make it possible for people to work and live comfortably even when outdoor temperatures are unbearably hot. It takes a significant amount of energy to operate them, however, and since 1992, the Department of Energy (DOE) has required HVAC manufacturers to meet specified energy conservation criteria. When it comes to better energy efficiency, government-established standards are only part of the story. Read on to learn why today’s air conditioners are far more efficient than those produced a generation ago.

Consulting the SEER

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the rating system that manufacturers use to calculate air conditioner efficiency. A SEER rating represents the system’s cooling output over a standard cooling season divided by the amount of electricity it takes to operate the air conditioner. The higher the SEER, the less you’ll pay on monthly energy costs. The minimum SEER allowed by law is 13, and an AC unit must have at least a 14 SEER to qualify as an Energy Star product. The latest generation of high efficiency central air conditioners includes systems with SEER ratings of 20 or higher. Ductless systems can have SEER ratings as high as 30. Your trusted HVAC contractor can help you compare AC options to find the best air conditioning replacement for you.

All About Comfort

Consumer demand for better comfort has also driven energy efficiency advancements in the HVAC industry. Old-fashioned cooling systems are often faulted for delivering periodic blasts of air, leaving you feeling either too cold or too hot. Air conditioners equipped with features like two-stage compressors and variable-speed motors monitor room temperatures and operate on high only when outdoor temperatures demand it. Under more favorable conditions, they produce a gentler, more even delivery of cooling comfort. This eliminates uncomfortable fluctuations in temperatures and allows your AC to operate more efficiently too.

Whole-Home Efficiency

Today’s modern homes boast design features that also improve air conditioner efficiency, including improved insulation and tighter building envelopes. There are many energy saving home improvements that you can make to your property as well:

  • Sealing Strategies. Use weatherstripping and caulk to seal gaps around drafty windows, doors and utility outlets to keep cooled air inside.
  • Add Insulation. Attic temperatures can top 150 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. Check your attic and add more insulation if floor joists are visible.
  • Programmable Thermostats. These smart devices let you program your AC to run at lower temperatures when you’re asleep or away from home, saving you money on energy costs.
  • Use Ceiling Fans. Because ceiling fans make you feel cooler, they allow you to dial up the setting on your AC up to four degrees with no loss of comfort.
  • Landscaping. To reduce solar heat gain, landscape your property so that trees and shrubs provide shade for your home during the heat of the day.

A NATE-certified HVAC contractor is an excellent source of information when you want learn more about how to choose an air conditioning replacement. The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) organization offers a training and certification program that ensures contractors are qualified to install, repair and service today’s high efficiency cooling systems. As the premier directory of air conditioning services in the Southeastern United States, AirConditioningSouthEast.com makes it easy to find a contractor you can trust to install a high efficiency system that will save you money for years to come.