Having an energy efficient AC system in the summer goes a long way toward keeping your expenses down. There are easy ways to determine an AC unit’s inherent efficiency, and there are simple things you can do to help it maximize its performance.
You can find the systems’ energy-efficiency rating as manufactured by looking for a metal label on the outdoor condenser. It will give a lot of specifications, but the one you are looking for is the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). It will have a value starting in the single digits and going into the 20s.
Each increase in the SEER rating means that the unit uses 10% less electricity. Cooling systems manufactured after 2015 are required to have a minimum SEER rating of 14 for our region. A unit with a SEER of 14 vs one of 10 uses 40% less electricity. If your unit has a SEER below 10, it’s probably time to consider upgrading to a new, more energy efficient cooling system.
Besides learning where your system stands in terms of older or more recent equipment, how you take care of it will make it a more energy efficient AC system or detract from its performance.
The most common ways that homeowners will lower the efficiency of their equipment is by:
- Neglecting professional maintenance. Your system works hard to keep your home comfortable all year long, and it needs attention at least once during the spring/summer months and again during the fall/winter months. The technician will go through all the components, inspecting, cleaning and making any needed adjustments as required to keep the system working at its peak performance.
He or she will change the air filter, replacing it with the type the manufacturer recommends. The pro will also clean the outdoor condenser, including the coils and the fan blades.
- Crowding the condenser. It can be tempting to leave objects around the condenser or place things on the top or too close to the unit, but that will also lower its energy efficiency. The condenser needs a minimum of 1 – foot on all sides as the absolute minimum for shrubbery and the back of the unit facing the house.
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