Energy Efficiency: Is Your Air Conditioner Blowing Your Money Away?

It is estimated that homeowners spend $11 billion every year on cooling. When you want to beat the heat, there's nothing better than the crisp breeze of central air conditioning. During the sweaty months, ensure that your AC is fully energy efficient and getting you the coolest for your buck.    

How does an AC work?

As a part of a central cooling system, an air conditioner functions by drawing out warm air, heats liquid refrigerant to a gas that cools the air before returning to a liquid, then redistributes cooled air throughout the home via a network of ducts. There are two main kinds, a split system, and a package system. The two parts of a split system include and indoor portion and outdoor portion. The indoor portion contains the evaporator coil and a usually a furnace or heat pump while the outdoor portion contains the condenser and compressor. With a package unit, the system is installed on the roof or on a block of concrete outside the home. The condenser, compressor, an evaporation coil, and an electric heating coil or gas furnace all exist in one unit.

What makes an AC energy efficient?

Newer models of air conditioners use up to 50 percent less energy to meet cooling needs than they did 30 years ago, creating a 30 to 40 percent cost savings. Technology is always improving so even if your unit is only about 10 years old you could still greatly benefit from replacing the system. A unit must be properly installed and sized correctly in order to show any benefits of efficiency. If the unit is too large, it may have trouble dehumidifying the air causing the room to still feel warm. A unit that is too small will not be able to adequately cool the building. An installed unit that complies with the Indoor Environment and Energy Efficiency Associations quality standards will be properly sized, the duct work will be sealed correctly, and the unit will be properly insulated and located to ensure the effectiveness of the unit.

How can I ensure my AC is energy efficient?

Many homes have an air conditioning system already installed when a new owner moves in. To be certain that your system is functioning at the best possible standards, consider these circumstances: Your AC is more than 10 years old, your boiler or furnace is more than 15 years old, some rooms are not being cooled, your heating and cooling system is noisy, or your AC needs constant repair and your energy bills keep going up. If you have any of the preceding issues, it may be time to replace your unit. 

Air conditioners are rated on their seasonal energy efficiency ratio. Today's standards require a SEER rating of 13 while many old units have a rating of 6. In a split system, it is possible to see a benefit from only replacing the outdoor unit, however, for complete energy efficiency and to maximize your buck, replacing the entire system is wisest.

How to find the right AV Service Provider?

Common issues to plague AC units involve refrigerant leaks, dirty conditioning coils, thermostat room sensors, or inadequate drainage. A yearly maintenance check, costing about $70 to $100, can keep your AC running smoothly for years to come. The right service provider can save you a world of time and money. The ACCA , or Energy Efficiency Association, contains a searchable database of certified HVAC Contractors to connect you with the proper professionals (such as those from A One Heating & Air Conditioning).