Tips for buying energy-efficient air conditioner
By Joe Brooks, Contributing writer
Why should you consider buying an energy-efficient air conditioner? There are at least two very good reasons. For one thing, an efficient unit will save you considerable money over time. Another consideration is that, in our age of depleted fuel reserves and stress on the environment, every bit of energy saving is important. While it does cost upfront to make the change to a modern highly efficient air conditioner, the savings in dollars over the life of the unit will justify the expense.
When contemplating the purchase and installation of a new AC, there are some numbers and terminologies to keep in mind. One simple thing to consider is time. Roughly speaking, if your air conditioner is 10 or more years old, it is a prime candidate for replacement with one of the new high-efficiency models. Not only have the years of operation taken their toll on the older unit, but the modern models are far superior in efficiency. The new one, properly installed and maintained, will likely provide 10 to 20 years of high efficiency cooling.
Other numbers and terms related to cooling efficiency are the ratings applied to the unit. You will see cooling capacity in Btu, and ratings expressed as SEER, or EER. It is important to have a basic understanding of these terms. Btu stands for British thermal unit, and indicates the cooling output of the AC. SEER and EER are related, but are not quite the same. EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio, and compares the cooling output of a unit to the input in energy required to operate it. SEER, on the other hand, stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and sets the standard for a normal year of operation for the unit in a certain location.
As they apply to the AC shopper, these terms and values enable the shopper to choose the best model for their money, and even to get an idea of the break-even point, when your cash output equals your savings over time. The SEER and the EER should be as high as your dollar will stretch to cover, for they will pay off in time. The Btu rating is something that needs to be evaluated according to your space. Having an AC with too small an output, no matter how high the efficiency, will not achieve the cooling level you want. A unit that is too large for your home just costs more and is a waste of money and energy.
You should do your research, at least glance over the formulas, and learn to recognize the terms and read the big yellow stickers on appliances. An air conditioner is a major purchase, and you want to be an informed shopper. Most likely you will not be installing the unit yourself, so you will be well advised to shop for an air conditioning company as well. A local specialist will know the conditions in your area, so will be able to understand that SEER rating, and explain it to you as well. That qualified professional will be able to evaluate your home space, and determine the Btu rating required.
There are other important considerations when buying your new high-efficiency air conditioner. The installation need to be done properly, by a qualified professional. The duct-work is critical, and must be adequate or your efficiency will be lost. All-in-all, the combination of a smart, well-informed shopper with a highly qualified professional HVAC expert will be the perfect combination. Together you can plan and install a modern, high-efficiency air conditioner that will keep you and your family cool and comfortable, and save the planet as well, for years to come.
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