Are New AC Units Really That Much More Energy Efficient?
When it’s time to consider an AC replacement for your Albuquerque home, it’s always a big decision. We know that a new AC unit is not a small purchase, so you want to make sure you’re educated on the decision. And, we know that energy efficiency is probably a factor on your mind. This blog post will talk about new AC units and explain how and why they are more energy-efficient than older units.
AC Replacement Offers Better Construction
Just in general, you can think about how much technology has changed in the last 10-15 years, and the same is true of HVAC. Advances in manufacturing, including better motors and smaller parts, allow AC units to run better than they used to. You might notice new AC units are taller and thinner than older models. This new design is a part of the energy efficiency too. The better construction means they also run a lot quieter than older units.
Compressors are Key to Energy Efficiency
The biggest reason new AC units are more energy efficient is the new design for compressors. New compressors have a variable speed (or multi-stage) compressor. In older units, there were basically only two functions for the compressor—on and off. So when the AC was running, the compressor was working full blast, no matter what temperature you were cooling your home to.
New AC units take advantage of a variable speed compressor, meaning it can drop to a lower capacity when the home doesn’t need as much power to cool it. To give you an idea, some models can run at anywhere from 40-100% capacity. Imagine how much energy (and therefore money) can be saved when your compressor can run at 40% some of the time instead of 100% all of the time!
More Constant Air Flow—Updated Blower System
Because of how new compressors work, new AC units do not have to cycle off and on as often as old ones do. The model of cycling on to cool the air, cycling off, and then letting the temperature rise until it cycles back on again is not a very efficient model. With the updated blower systems, air blows more constantly and at a lower capacity, making airflow steady and quieter.
What’s a SEER Rating Anyway?
With all of these updates and promises of more efficient AC units, you still might be wondering how we can prove it. And you may have seen SEER ratings as you’re perusing Home Depot, but what do those really mean?
Well, the SEER rating system was established by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute. It stands for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio.” When a new ac unit hits the market, the AHRI assigns the unit a SEER rating based on the cooling capacity during a given cooling period divided by the total electric energy input in that same period.
At this point, AC units made in the U.S. are required to have at least a 13 SEER rating, and the most efficient ratings are currently around 24 or 25. If your AC unit is older than 2006, it’s possible that your AC unit has an even lower SEER rating, considering the previous requirement from the government was only a 10 SEER.
If a unit runs in the top 25%, it can qualify for an ENERGY STAR label—something else you’ve probably seen as well. These units are where you’re really going to see a big change in your cooling bill.
The SEER rating of an air conditioning system is the primary way you can tell the unit is going to save you money and be better for the environment. This isn’t a sales gimmick, a non-biased group assigns it.
AC Replacement Will Save You Money
Yes, replacing your AC is a big investment, which is why we offer financing. But, what you spend on an upgraded unit you will make back over time with savings on your cooling bill over time. The AHRI recommends you talk to your trusted HVAC professional to calculate the cooling cost of a new unit.
And, we understand why some people wait for their AC to die completely to replace it. But we recommend if your AC is between 10-15 years old that you replace it even before it bites the dust. It will save you the inconvenience of being out of AC and get you on the energy efficiency train sooner!
Have questions about what an AC replacement could look like in your home? Contact us today!