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Today's high efficiency air conditioners use 30 to 50 percent less energy than those installed 20 years ago.
Even if your HVAC system is 10 years old, you could save 20 to 40 percent on your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a high efficiency model. (Source: U.S. Department of Energy)
Your home's HVAC system accounts for up to 30 percent of your overall energy use. Here are some tips to help you improve efficiency and comfort while you save energy and money:
Here are some quick tips to increasing energy efficiency in your home:
- Replace your A/C system's filter regularly.
- Have your system's refrigerant charge tested and adjusted, if necessary.
- Have your condenser coils cleaned regularly.
- Have your home's ductwork tested for leaks and sealed, if necessary.
- Talk to an approved A/C Quality contractor about an ongoing service contract or maintenance agreement to keep your equipment running smoothly.
- Set and lock your thermostats to the maximum acceptable set point.
- Install timers or program thermostats
- Consider installing the most energy efficient appliance when purchasing new equipment.
Annual maintenance is one of the most cost-effective ways to maintain your comfort, save money and ensure that your new A/C system stays in working order. An improperly maintained HVAC system is more likely to work harder and develop significant problems that reduce comfort and decrease energy savings. The Quality Maintenance Program recommends Preventive Maintenance Agreements that include a minimum of two visits a year.
In addition to an annual Preventive Maintenance Agreement consider these helpful tasks.
- Dirt makes HVAC equipment work harder. Debris and dirty filters block air flow and increase energy use. By keeping the area around your HVAC equipment clean and by replacing dirty filters, you will save energy and lower costs. And, you can do these simple things yourself.
- Check your filters once a month, and replace when needed. This simple task is one of the easiest and least expensive ways you can save energy and money.
A central air conditioning system works by removing heat from inside the home and transferring it to the outside. Cooled air is then added and circulated throughout the home by a fan. Since moisture evaporates when heat is absorbed, and moisture condenses when heat is released, air conditioners use a compressor to cause pressure changes between two compartments.
There are two types of central air conditioning systems:
- Split System: Condenser and compressor are outside the home; evaporator coil is inside, typically as a component of the furnace. All components must be compatible for them to work in this type of configuration. Split Systems are the most common HVAC systems used in homes.
- Packaged System: The evaporator, condenser and compressor are housed in one cabinet. The air supply and return ducts pass through the home's exterior walls to connect with the A/C unit, often located outdoors.
This compressor pumps refrigerant into the low-pressure compartment (the evaporator coil). There, low pressure causes the refrigerant to evaporate into a vapor, releasing heat. In the condenser coil, refrigerant vapor is compressed and forced through a heat exchange coil, where it condenses into a liquid, expelling the heat previously absorbed from the cooled space. A heat exchanger in the condenser uses a fan blowing outside air to cool it.
A central air conditioning system's efficiency can be measured using the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) and the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER).
SEER is the Department of Energy's measure of energy efficiency for how efficient central air conditioning equipment and heat pumps operate over a cooling season. The higher the SEER rating the higher the efficiency of the equipment. SEER ratings range from 6 or 7 on equipment installed 30 or more years ago to 17, which is the most efficient unit available, offering the highest level of energy savings. The SEER rating for a piece of equipment can be found on the Energy Guide sticker, which is attached on the outside unit of your air conditioner.
EER is a measure of how efficient a cooling system will operate at a specific temperature level. EER is commonly used in Southern California as our cooling season is much different than the national average. Once again, the higher the EER rating the higher the efficiency of the unit.
Southern California Edison and A/C Quality participating contractors recognize the added energy savings that customers can enjoy by moving to premium efficiency equipment with SEER of 14 or higher.