An air conditioner is one of the most crucial elements in determining the level of comfort within our homes. Particularly in regions where temperatures are prone to rising like a roller coaster speeding up to its high point. However, as an air conditioning system begins to get older, it introduces a new feature that makes otherwise comfortable homeowners squirm in their seats. High energy bills. This is where the most high-efficiency air conditioner comes in. With its advanced technology, smart features and enhanced performance capabilities, a high-efficiency AC introduces you to the next-gen way of cooling your home. But as with everything new, there’s a whole lot you need to know before you decide to make a purchase. This blog will provide you with everything you need to know about high-efficiency air-conditioning systems to help ensure you make a well-informed purchase decision.
How do you identify a High-Efficiency Air-conditioning System?
There’s a proverb that goes “A picture can speak a thousand words”. Well, when it comes to air-conditioning systems, it’s a number that can speak volumes. Look for the SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) which you’ll find listed on any central air conditioning model you see out there. A SEER rating, in simple words, is the equivalent of ‘miles per gallon’ when it comes to rating the high efficiency air conditioners. As per current industry standards, a SEER rating of over 13 is considered as high-efficiency performance.
The difference between high-efficiency and low-efficiency air conditioning
1. Consistent performance with minimal energy
With more advanced compressors, a high-efficiency AC is able to maintain optimal comfort unlike conventional ACs that subject you to random bursts of cold air. A high-efficiency AC uses minimal energy to keep the temperature consistent without switching on and off while a low-efficiency AC causes temperature rise and drops with higher consumption of energy.
2. Better filtration for cleaner air
Best high-efficiency ACs come with media filters that have an accordion style design to provide a larger surface area. The extra surface area ensures there’s less dirt in your AC system and more cleaner air circulating through your home.
3. More quiet, less wear and tear
Older technology ACs switch on and off frequently creating noise and scope for wear and tear of components. Higher-efficiency ACs on the other hand, operate on a continuous blowing principle that allows them to operate a lot more silently and reduce the risk of early breakdowns. In fact, some models of high-efficiency ACs can bring down the operating sound to as low as 58 decibels with compressor sound blankets and upgraded fan blades.
4. Smart controls for optimal comfort
Today’s advanced air conditioning systems have evolved the function of cooling to a whole new level. Gone are the days when all your air conditioner did was work up a noise and then blow out cold air. The air conditioning upgrades available today come with humidity and temperature controls that allow the unit to alter its cooling performance as per the climatic fluctuations in your region.
The types of high-efficiency air-conditioners
1. Split Systems
A split air-conditioning system is half outside and half inside your home. The part outside is the compressor and the part inside is the air outlet unit. The split system is one of the most common types of air-conditioning systems found in homes, because of their multiple advantages.
- A split system doesn’t require ductwork and is therefore a perfect option for homes with no ductwork installed.
- If you’re looking for an air-conditioning system that individualizes itself to specific spaces, the split system is an ideal option because it provides the maximum degree of cooling comfort within a limited space.
- Another advantage is, you can expand a split system with multiple indoor air outlet units to match your spaces. Each unit will have its own individual thermostat for individualized temperature control.
- The indoor units are known to be ultra-quiet and be ideal for sleep or work areas.
- The outdoor compressor needs space which may be a problem for homes that have limited outdoor space in their yard or balcony.
- The compressor unit can generate undue noise if not maintained properly.
- The installation cost can escalate if the outdoor and indoor units cannot be placed in proximity.
- A split system only circulates the air inside the space and does not bring in fresh air from outside.
- Only a technician who’s properly licensed can install a split system which needs to be integrated seamlessly with a home’s electrical system.
2. Hybrid Split Systems
A gas based system can throw your life in disarray when you run out of fuel. An electricity-based system will create no such inconvenience unless of course, a storm or any other factor takes out the power in your neighborhood. Well, a hybrid split system will function flawlessly in both scenarios, because it’s designed to operate with electric power in conjunction with fossil fuels such as propane, fuel oil or natural gas.
- You have the flexibility to choose your power source – gas or electric, depending on considerations of cost, easy availability and installation convenience.
- A hybrid system will allow you to bring down your average monthly energy costs by up to 30 to 50%.
- With a hybrid system, you can use the heat pump when the temperature is higher or even milder and the combustion furnace when the temperature’s at its lowest.
- You have the assurance of all year round performance, because even if one of the systems fails, you have the other to back you up.
- Since a hybrid system will neither use a substantial amount of electric or fossil fuel power, you can reduce your carbon footprint and therefore, your overall load on the environment.
- Since a hybrid system comes with two heating systems as compared to traditional heating systems that come with only one, they come with higher installation costs.
- Maintenance can be cumbersome and expensive because you’ll have two sets of components to maintain.
- A hybrid system may not be suitable for all regions and climates. For instance, a single heat pump would suffice for a warm region with mild winters.
3. Mini Split Systems (Duct Free)
Mini splits are a preferred choice in homes or buildings that lack the ductwork necessary for central heating and cooling systems to operate. The ‘mini’ comes from the fact that the individual units are smaller than traditional cooling and heating options while the ‘split’ originates from the system being composed of individual outdoor and indoor units.
- They are highly efficient in performance with SEER ratings that can go over 30, as compared to central air conditioners that would max out at 22 – 23.
- They are ideal when you want to cool or heat specific spaces and not your entire home.
- Since there’s no ductwork involved, your technician won’t need to labor with the installation as much as he would with a central unit.
- The independent units mean homeowners can control temperature settings in the spaces they want without changing the settings of other spaces.
- They save a significant amount of energy because of the limited areas they operate in.
- The indoor unit of a mini-split is obvious and will be in your line of vision, which could be a distraction or an unwanted addition amidst your home’s décor.
- They require regular cleaning and maintenance to be able to last their expected span of 12 to 15 years.
- The cost of repairs can be expensive.
How much can you save by switching to a high-efficiency air-conditioning system?
As with all expenses, the costs of energy too are steadily increasing over the years. And keeping with the laws of inflation, it’s a rise that’s neither going to reverse nor slow down in the near future. One way to combat this regular rise in energy bills is to cut down on energy consumption. But here, there’s a contradiction. How often can you turn that air-conditioner off in the middle of a scorching summer? The US Government has a solution that’s not only practical but also serves to shift the paradigm of purchase when it comes to energy guzzling appliances like air-conditioners. Shift from old to new, from power-hungry to power saving, low-efficiency to high-efficiency air-conditioning systems.
Now, let’s do a little math with an element called the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The average SEER of an older generation, low-efficiency air-conditioning system would be around 10 whereas the average SEER of a new generation system is around 13, with the best ones scaling 20 and way beyond. Upgrading an older 10 SEER system to a minimum 13 SEER system would result in energy savings to the extent of 23% per year. Increase the SEER by one point to 14 and you’re looking at savings of up to 29% per year. Increase the SEER further to say 16, and you bump up your energy savings to 38%. If you want an even clearer scenario in dollar terms, consider this. If your current low-efficiency air-conditioning system costs you roughly $670 per year in energy bills, a new, high-efficiency system would cost you in the vicinity of $419 per year. That’s a $250 dollar saving right away, which will only increase each year as energy prices continue their steady climb. Alternately, at a conservative $250 per year, you’re looking at a minimum $2500 worth of savings over 10 years. The figure could be even higher depending on the SEER that you actually go for.
How to choose the right air-conditioning system for your home
1. Pick the right size
The size of the AC unit should be the first thing you look at. A system that’s oversized for your space will cool the air but leave it damp. Besides, you’ll also end up paying for cooling power you don’t actually need. An undersized system will fall short on cooling capacity and therefore, will need to work hard to cool your spaces to your desired temperature. This will reflect in higher energy bills.
2. Check the SEER value
The SEER tells you clearly what to expect from an AC unit in terms of energy efficiency and overall performance. Higher efficiency ACs begin from a SEER of 13 and go up to 20 and beyond. Make a choice between 15 and 18, to get the best balance between efficiency and affordability.
3. Programmable temperature settings
Look for ACs that come with this feature as standard. This feature allows you to set the temperature that works best for the comfort of your family and the AC unit will control its air flow to ensure this temperature is maintained throughout your day. You can even schedule your cooling unit to turn off when you leave home and switch back on when you return.
4. Energy saving setting
This is a feature you’ll love having in your AC unit, a distinct advantage that wasn’t available with earlier generation, low-efficiency models. Once your space is cool and the ideal temperature is achieved, your AC unit will turn off both the compressor and the fan, helping you conserve energy.
Ways to maximize your gains with a high-efficiency air-conditioner
Most homeowners think once they install a high-efficiency AC unit, all they need to do is switch it on when they want to feel cool and switch it off when they don’t. And magically, the energy bills will come down drastically. The truth is, while an advanced energy-efficient AC system will play a significant role in helping your home conserve energy and save on expenses, there are still some things you need to do in order to maximize the efficiency of your brand new AC unit. Here are a few ways you can ensure, you get the best value and the most savings out of your new cooling unit.
1. Set the ideal temperature
During summers, program your ideal thermostat temperature to 78 degrees to get the optimum combination of cooling and savings.
2. Let night time be switch off time
Nights are comparatively cooler and if you give it a try, an open window may be comforting enough for you to get a good night’s sleep.
3. Turn off things when unnecessary
The more lights and appliances you leave running, the more heat your home generates. This puts a load on your cooling unit, making even an efficient AC work harder than it normally should.
4. Raise the temperature when the home’s empty
Program your thermostat to increase the temperature by a few degrees, when no one’s home. This will help decrease the load on your AC.
5. Use ceiling fans
A ceiling fan uses far less energy than an AC and also circulates air more efficiently. Using a ceiling fan by itself or even in conjunction with your AC will help you keep your home cool with less effort and energy usage.
6. Do monthly cleaning
Routine cleaning of vents and filters will keep your AC unit or units running smoothly and at their efficient best.
7. Ensure proper and full insulation
Make sure to completely seal any point where an AC unit or a part of your AC system enters your home. Any gaps or flaws in sealing will let in hot air, which will increase the work of your AC and reflect in higher energy bills.
We trust this comprehensive read will give you everything you need to know about high-efficiency air-conditioning systems. In case, you have any clarifications or would like any further guidance for high efficiency HVAC system or air conditioning ducts, please feel free to speak with our experts at Boyle Energy. We’re a family run business that’s been serving homes in and around Havertown since 1937. We’ve helped hundreds of homeowners in not only finding the right cooling solutions for their homes but also in keeping their AC units running smoothly without problems. Do give us a call at your convenience and we’ll be more than happy to introduce you to the Boyle way of service.