What to Look for in an Energy Efficient Central Air Conditioner
When shopping for a new or replacement central air conditioning unit, there are a number of things to consider. From the initial cost of the unit and installation to the complexity of ongoing maintenance, making a decision purely on price is a mistake you’ll pay dearly for down the road.
Whether you are a Wisconsin resident of Washington or Ozaukee County - or you live in another state, with rising electric costs, energy efficiency is always a factor. A low cost air conditioning unit may seem affordable now, but if it is not energy efficient, higher utility bills will quickly eat up those initial savings.
What you need to know if Your Air Conditioning Unit is 10 Years or Older
If your AC unit is 10 years or older, it’s a good idea to replace your air conditioner sooner rather than later due to a Freon phase-out mandate by the EPA that began about 25 years ago.
Here’s the full story…
The R22 refrigerant (also known as Freon) is being phased out and by 2020, it will no longer be produced since it has been established by the EPA as being harmful to the ozone. Many people are just learning about this due to the way the phase-out system works:
• In 2014, 50 million pounds of R22 Freon was produced.
• In 2016, 18 million pounds was produced.
• In 2018, 10 million pounds will be produced.
• In 2019, less than 5 million pounds will be produced.
• R22 production will completely stop in 2020.
With these statistics in mind, it becomes increasingly obvious this creates a supply and demand problem for homeowners with AC units 10 years and older. The EPA intentionally designed the phase-out this way to push homeowners toward more energy efficient units.
Since 2000, air conditioning units have been produced using an environmentally friendly replacement Freon known as R-410A. Unfortunately, it is not possible to simply swap out R22 for R-410A, since this would be the equivalent of running diesel through a gasoline engine.
Since the price of R22 Freon is already expensive and is expected to continually rise in cost through 2020, there is no better time to upgrade your AC unit than now.
The Benefits of Newer, More Energy Efficient Air Conditioning Units
There are many reasons to choose an energy efficient air conditioning unit. Since more than half the energy used in an average home is devoted to heating and cooling, choosing a more efficient unit means less energy use and a lower carbon footprint for your family. There are also other advantages such as:
1. Cost savings - Many older AC units operate at less than 65% efficiency, meaning that 35% of the money you use to cool your home is wasted. Newer systems are far more energy efficient, and that means less wasted energy and less money spent.
2. Better comfort control – New, energy efficient AC units are easier to control, with simpler temperature settings and more consistent cooling.
3. Programmable thermostat compatibility - With a new AC unit in place, you can install a programmable thermostat to keep your home comfortable at all times, day or night.
4. Better airflow - Newer AC units have better airflow than older, less efficient units. This reduces energy usage and eliminates common bottlenecks.
5. Quiet operation - Older AC units are often noisy, but newer, energy efficient central AC units can be nearly silent.
AC Efficiency Terms You Need to Know – Understand the Lingo
High efficiency, energy efficiency, BTUs, SEER rating, ENERGY STAR – what does it all mean?
When shopping for a new air conditioner, the acronyms and different ways to distinguish a good unit from a lesser unit can be overwhelming.
Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know to make an educated decision on the best, most efficient air conditioning unit for your home:
• What is a SEER Rating?
A high efficiency air conditioning unit is defined by its SEER rating. This measure of efficiency is technically known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it represents the volume of cooling divided by the amount of energy used.
Many older central air units had a SEER rating of less than 10, while newer high efficiency air conditioning units can be twice as efficient. That higher level of efficiency means lower energy costs and greener operation for Wisconsin area homeowners.
As you shop for a new or replacement central air conditioning unit for your home, you will want to first become familiar with the SEER rating of all units you are considering. The SEER rating is designed to rate the efficiency of air conditioning units and this gauge will be very helpful as you shop.
• What is the Best SEER Rating?
The best SEER rating will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your home and the required energy efficiency of the unit. SEER ratings go up to 20, and a SEER rating of 20 simply indicates the highest level of efficiency that particular air conditioning system is able to achieve.
• Energy Efficiency vs. High Efficiency – What’s the Difference?
At first blush, an energy efficient air conditioner and a high efficiency air conditioner may seem like the same thing, but there are some key differences to be aware of. An air conditioning unit may be rated as energy efficient, but its efficiency still may not be enough to meet modern standards.
It is important to not only review the projected energy consumption of a central air unit before you buy, but you also need to understand the SEER rating. Buying a unit that meets or exceeds the required SEER rating for the state of Wisconsin is a good place to start, but in general, the more efficient the unit, the better.
• How Do You Know If an AC Unit is Energy Efficient?
If you purchased your central air unit more than a few years ago, it may not be as energy efficient as it should be. Standards are changing all the time, and advances in the industry mean that the newest units are also the most energy efficient.
When gauging the energy efficiency of your central air unit, take notice of how quiet the system is and how high your utility bills are. If you have noticed a spike in your cooling costs, your old unit may no longer be efficient or powerful enough for your home.
• What is the meaning of BTU in Air Conditioners?
BTU is the acronym for British Thermal Unit, and it is simply a unit of measurement for energy usage. One BTU is the amount of energy that would be required to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
When you shop for a new or replacement central air conditioning unit, you will see its power rated in BTUs. The higher the BTU rating, the greater the cooling capacity of the system. It is important to choose a central air system that is properly sized for your home, and just as important to avoid a unit that is either too large or too small.
• ENERGY STAR - What is it and What Does it Mean?
No doubt you’ve heard this term before, but do you really know what it stands for?
The ENERGY STAR system is a government-backed gauge of energy efficiency, and it is one of the most trusted symbols of efficient operation.
This rating was designed to serve a number of purposes, including reducing greenhouse gases, cutting down on energy consumption, and protecting the power grid during times of peak power usage. The ENERGY STAR rating is a very important thing to look for when shopping for a new air conditioning unit for your home.
• What is the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard for Air Conditioners in Wisconsin?
The requirements for energy efficiency in the state of Wisconsin changed at the beginning of 2015. As of January 1st of that year, the standard for energy efficiency was changed to reflect regional requirements, and for northern states like Wisconsin, air conditioning units must now carry a minimum SEER rating of 13 for split systems and a minimum of 14 for single package central air conditioning units.
Knowing the minimum energy efficiency standards for air conditioning units in Wisconsin is very important. After all, those Wisconsin summers can get pretty hot, and you need to know your AC unit will keep you cool and comfortable.
Keep in mind, however, that the minimum may not be enough, and it is important to choose a central air conditioning unit that is properly sized for your Wisconsin home.
Jackson Hardware Heating & Air Conditioning is the area's leader in top quality air conditioning installation and repair, with a full range of Lennox equipment to enhance your summer comfort.
Lennox has long been the recognized leader in the world of air conditioning, with 5-star ratings and top quality design. If you have been looking for an exceptional air conditioning unit at a great price, Jackson Hardware Heating & Air Conditioning is the perfect place to start shopping.
Call us today at (262) 677-3477 with questions and we’ll help you find the perfect air conditioning unit for your home.
Final Tips before Purchasing a New High Efficiency Air Conditioning Unit
There are many things to think about when choosing a new or replacement central air conditioning unit for your Washington County or Ozaukee based home. Here are some timely tips to help you get the biggest bang for your air conditioning buck.
1. Choose the Right Size for your Home
Buying an AC unit that is too large for your home means spending more money than you need to. In addition, you’ll be missing out on the right level of energy efficiency for your home.
An AC unit that is too small might not be able to keep up with peak demand and you’ll find yourself running the unit all the time – once again, missing out on achieving optimal AC performance for the size of your home.
2. Choose a Quiet Unit
Noise level is a very important consideration when choosing a central air unit, and living with a noisy system can be quite trying. A properly sized unit should operate quietly and efficiently; if you can hear the unit running, it might not be as efficient as you think.
3. Should I Repair my Existing System or Buy a New One?
Repair or replace an AC unit – it’s a common question…for good reason. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether to replace an existing unit or purchase a new one. From the difficulty of maintaining an old system to the expense of a new unit, there many things to think about.
Jackson Hardware Heating & Air Conditioning can help you with this decision.
We are the leading specialist in HVAC repair and replacement in Jackson, WI, and all of Washington and Ozaukee counties.
As your certified Lennox dealer since 1919, we are the leading authority on the industry’s best and most energy efficient heating and cooling products. Our goal is to repair or replace your system in a timely manner, with as little disruption to your day as possible.
For priority service or emergencies, call us at (262) 677-3477. No matter what time of day you call, you’ll always speak with a live person!
If your old central air conditioning unit is not as efficient as you would like, it might be time to retire your current system and take advantage of recent improvements in HVAC technology.
Replacing your old and inefficient central air unit with a newer high efficiency unit can lower your cooling bills, keep your family cool and comfortable and even improve the state of the environment.
No matter what size of home you own, when you need HVAC repair or replacement in Jackson and surrounding areas, contact Jackson Hardware Heating & Air Conditioning!
We’ll help you choose a new central air unit that is efficient, affordable and easy to use. For priority service or emergencies, you can reach us by calling (262) 677-3477. We are available 24/7.