Now that air conditioning season has emerged, keeping your unit working is a top priority. The fact is: there’s a good chance that your air conditioner will breakdown. So, how can you remain cool without breaking the bank? Here, we’ll offer 4 key terms you should become familiar with in order to save money on cooling costs.
- Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a measure of a system’s efficiency. The more efficient the system, the cheaper it is to operate. Energy efficient systems are also better for the environment. According to the United States Department of Energy, the absolute minimum for a SEER rating should be 13 in modern day appliances, in comparison to older units that have a SEER rating of 6 – which clearly illustrates the difference in energy efficiency. In fact, according to research, replacing your old air conditioning unit with one that has a SEER rating of 16 can save you over $300 per year. SEER models can be pricey, so it’s important that you find the best fit for you. Consider factors such as your residence and how often you use your air conditioner.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. The more BTUs an air conditioner cranks out, the stronger its cooling power. But, the problem is: most American consumers don’t know how to translate BTUs into the square footage of a room. People often buy a unit that is too large for the space they wish to cool. A unit that is too large wastes energy, raising the utility bill. A properly sized unit may take slightly longer to initially cool the space, but it will maintain a more comfortable temperature and humidity level, while using a lot less energy. The chart on page 3 of this helpful ENERGY STAR document translates the area you want to cool into BTUs per hour. For example, an air conditioner with a rating of 8,000 BTUs can cool a room that's 300 to 350 sq. ft., or one that measures about 18 ft. x 18 ft. Of course, you still have to measure your room and apply this formula: Area equals length times width. For irregularly sized rooms, it’s okay to estimate.
- Variable Speed or Modulated
These two terms mean the same thing, and they are associated with air conditioning units that are cheaper to run. A modulated or variable speed air conditioning unit gives you an even temperature, meaning that it does not run when it is too cold and doesn’t allow your home to become too hot. In addition, it helps control humidity levels in the space. If humidity levels are lower and under control, you may not need to set your air conditioner to such a low temperature. This can help reduce energy consumption levels, which could save you over $600 per year.
Humidity is moisture in the air that can reduce or increase your heating and cooling needs. The humidity of the air inside your home determines how much heat the air can hold. So, the higher the humidity at a given temperature, the more heat the air can hold. The evaporator in an AC system catches humidity, thus cooling the air. In the winter, your heating system will work hard to maintain a comfortable temperature inside. If the humidity in your home drops too low, your furnace will need to work even harder to maintain comfort because air with low humidity can not hold as much heat. Humidity affects home energy savings because heating and cooling systems work to overcome the negative effects that too much or too little humidity causes. When humidity is at the proper level, you won’t need to run your furnace or air conditioner as long to remain comfortable, thus saving on energy and money.
Knowledge of these 4 terms will help you cut cooling costs and make better investments that you’ll truly appreciate when you’re comfortably chilling in your home.
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