Here in Arizona, central air conditioning is as crucial to a home as doors or windows. And while there’s no doubt about how much our air conditioning units do to make us more comfortable during the hottest parts of the year, we tend to curse its very existence every time the energy bill comes around.
That’s because most HVAC units are known to scarf up energy like nobody’s business, especially during periods of heavy use.
Well, the good news is that these worries are largely going away for a lot of people thanks to advancements in air conditioning technology. And while one model has always tended to top the next in terms of efficiency, the last couple years have seen the most significant advancements yet.
For instance, an older air conditioning unit could easily use more than 5,000 watts of electricity per hour. On the other hand, a brand new unit can cool an average size home using less than 1,800 watts per hour, a huge advancement in efficiency.
The increases in efficiency can be attributed to several technological advancements, most notably compressors, fan blade shape and a new form of refrigerant. All these advancements have added up over time to make air conditioning units quieter, more reliable and able to cool larger areas using less power.
How Do You Find the Most Efficient Units?
The best way to determine of the air conditioner you are considering is efficient is looking at the SEER rating. This stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. The higher a SEER rating is, the more efficient the unit will be. Here in Arizona, all new air conditioning units must have a SEER rating of 14 or above to be legally sold and installed.
Many manufacturers offer units with a SEER rating higher than 14, but there are other factors that will contribute to efficiency.
Sizing: The art of determining what size air conditioner will work best for your home involves much more than simply measuring the square footage. It also means factoring in layout, insulation quality, exposure to the sun and leakage areas. This sizing should always be performed by an experienced professional.
Temperature Control: Setting your thermostat to a single temperature through the season will not provide you with optimal efficiency. Ideally, you will use a programmable thermostat to ensure your unit is cycling on less frequently, and only during times when you are at home and need to keep the house cooler.