Choosing an Air Conditioning Unit
Central air conditioners are more efficient than room air conditioners. In addition, they are out of the way, quiet, and convenient to operate. Today’s best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid-1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Proper sizing and installation are key elements in determining air conditioner efficiency. Too large a unit will not adequately remove humidity. Too small a unit will not be able to attain a comfortable temperature on the hottest days. Improper unit location, lack of insulation, and improper duct installation can greatly diminish efficiency.
What to look for
When buying an air conditioner, look for a model with a high efficiency. Central air conditioners are rated according to their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). SEER indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. The minimum SEER allowed today is 13. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label for central air conditioners with SEER ratings of 13 or higher.
New residential central air conditioner standards went into effect on January 23, 2006. Air conditioners manufactured after January 26, 2006 must achieve a SEER of 13 or higher. SEER 13 is 30% more efficient than the previous minimum SEER of 10. The standard applies only to appliances manufactured after January 23, 2006.
• variable speed air handler for new ventilation systems
• unit that operates quietly
• fan-only switch, so you can use the unit for nighttime ventilation to substantially reduce air-conditioning costs
• filter check light to remind you to check the filter after a predetermined number of operating hours
• An automatic-delay fan switch to turn off the fan a few minutes after the compressor turns off
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