Is Your Air Conditioner Energy-Efficient? How To Tell

Have your electricity bills been over the roof this summer? If yes, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit (HVAC) could be the reason behind your enormous electricity bill. The scorching summer heat causes many people to turn on their air-cooling units for long hours during daytimes. With the HVAC unit running a day, nearly half of your electricity bills are spent cooling your living spaces. The average air-cooling unit consumes about 3.5-kilowatt per hour, making it one of the biggest power consumers in many homes

If your HVAC is a few years old, chances are it’s not as efficient as it used to be when new. Components that functioned well may now lag due to wear and tear. Besides the high-power consumption, an old HVAC unit might be inconsistent in how it goes about your home’s cooling. One part of the house may be freezing, while other rooms might have a well-balanced temperature. If you notice any of the above signs, it may be time to switch to an energy-efficient air conditioner (AC).

Here is a detailed guide on how to tell whether your HVAC system is energy efficient. The guide also explores factors you should consider when purchasing a new air-cooling unit to ensure you don’t compromise on energy efficiency.

How to tell if your HVAC unit is energy efficient
Having an energy-efficient cooling system is essential for many reasons. An efficient system not only saves you money but will make your home more comfortable while posing a minor threat to the environment. How do you tell if your current HVAC is functioning correctly?

Check the SEER ratings.
The seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, abbreviated as SEER, is a rating that measures how well an air-cooling unit converts electric energy into cooling power. The SEER rating gives you an idea of your HVAC cooling output divided by energy consumption in watt-hours during a standard cooling season. You can trace the SEER rating in the user manual or somewhere on the AC unit, mainly at the bottom of the rear side.

Modern AC units will have a SEER rating ranging between 12 and 32. Generally, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient an AC converting electricity to cooling power. However, the U.S Department of Energy has set a minimum SEER rating of 14 for all AC units on sale. If the SEER rating on your AC falls below the required energy star rating, consider replacing it with a more efficient unit.

However, your current unit could still be inefficient even when its original SEER rating is above 14.5, especially if it’s been in use for over a decade. Ageing, poor maintenance, wear, and tear can reduce your AC’s effective SEER rating. One way to confirm your AC’s effective SEER rating is to compare your cooling bills over the years. If your bill keeps growing each year even after accounting for any rise in electricity costs, it could indicate that your AC is losing its efficiency.

Call a technician if you suspect your AC is no longer energy efficient. The technician will conduct an airflow inspection and a motor draw test to determine if your AC needs repair. If there’s a significant decline in performance, your technician will recommend upgrading to a more efficient unit, preferably one with a SEER score of 20 or higher.

Watch out for other signs of inefficiency.
Besides the SEER rating, you can also gauge your AC’s energy efficiency by tracking its day-to-day operational efficiency. If your AC no longer cools your living spaces evenly, chances are it might be inefficient. If you have to use a lower AC’s thermostat setting to achieve the desired cooling needs in your home, then it may be time to call in a technician or replace the unit altogether.

How to improve your AC’s efficiency
Besides purchasing an AC with an excellent energy rating, there are things you can do to improve your old unit’s cooling efficiency. The tips below will help you reduce cooling costs and extend your unit’s useful life.

Regular Air duct inspection
Gaps in your AC’s air duct system can introduce inefficiency because most of the cool air gets lost before it circulates through your home. As a result, the Air conditioning unit has to work harder to compensate for the cool air loss, leading to more energy consumption. Call a technician to inspect and clean your air duct system at least once in three months. A regular inspection and air duct clean-up ensure your AC circulates cold air with maximum efficiency.

Keep up with regular AC maintenance.
Your air conditioner needs regular repair and maintenance to function optimally like other household appliances. Technicians recommend a thorough inspection and tune-up of all critical components at least once annually, even when there are no signs of inefficiency.

Install a programmable thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is one way to cut down heating and cooling costs over the summer. Smart thermostats give you more control over room temperatures during the day. Its adjustable settings automatically allow you to adjust your home’s temperature when away or asleep.

Many smart thermostats come with smartphone compatibility allowing you to tweak your home’s cooling remotely. For example, you set your AC to a high temperature when away from home and designate hours when cooling is necessary. A smart thermostat makes home cooling more efficient and convenient.

Replace the air filters regularly
Your AC’s air filters help sieve out dirt and any unwanted debris that may clog the system. The risk of clogging is highest during hot summer months when your AC runs for long hours. Remember to pay attention to the air filters during the peak summer months and replace them at least once every two months to maintain cooling efficiency.

Clean your AC’s air vents
The Air vents are responsible for funnelling out cold air into your home. However, just like the filters, the vents are susceptible to clogging and obstruction from dirt and debris. Regular air vent clean-up ensures that cool air circulates freely, thus making your Westchester air conditioning more energy efficient.

Choose a good location for your AC
The positioning of an indoor air cooling unit within a home significantly influences its performance. Cool air has a high density which causes it to settle at the bottom areas of a room. To achieve efficient home cooling, place your indoor AC unit at a slightly elevated position to allow it to circulate the hot air outwards.

A general rule of thumb is to place your AC on your premises’ east or north side. Placing the unit under direct sunlight will cause your AC to work harder to achieve the desired cooling and may increase your electricity bill by as much as 40%.

Homeowners should provide adequate shade protection for their outdoor units. Shielding your outdoor AC unit minimizes the risk of overheating, which severely impacts the performance and longevity of the unit. Keeping the outdoor unit cool enables the AC system to perform its duties efficiently.

Choose a spot with enough space when installing the outdoor unit. The outdoor condenser requires enough space to suck in fresh cool air and release hot air from your premises.