Getting the Most Out of Your Air Conditioner

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Getting the Most Out of Your Air Conditioner

Choosing the right air conditioner for your home can involve several factors, including budget and energy efficiency.

While the initial purchase price obviously plays a role in most people’s decision, the right unit that’s more expensive but also more energy-efficient might save you money in the not-so-long run. Here are a few tips for choosing the best A/C unit for your home’s cooling needs while minimizing impacts on the environment and your electric bill.

Match Unit Size to Home or Room Size

Air conditioning needs are usually determined by the amount of space to be cooled. This requires knowing the square footage of the space, and checking the cooling capacity of the unit in question. Cooling capacity is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs, and generally you should have about 20 BTUs per square foot of space to be cooled. The unit’s written documentation should include an actual square footage range, or you can ask an HVAC installer for advice.

Professional HVAC installers take a more sophisticated approach, assessing more variables to make a more accurate determination of how much air conditioning a home or business requires. Home Comfort Experts employ project managers who perform a load calculation on your home that uses an algorithm that takes into account window size, direction and r-factor; home materials, insulation, and square footage; number of people in the home; and several other data points.

RELATED READ: Load Calculation-What you Need to Know

Don’t buy an oversized unit thinking that bigger means better. Running an oversized unit less often will not provide the energy savings of a correctly sized unit. And definitely avoid buying a unit that’s too small, as you will have to run it far more often, straining the system and likely causing it to fail much sooner than the expected 10-12 years. Poorly chosen equipment at the start will negate energy savings over the lifetime of your home and reduce the appliance’s lifespan.

Buy an Energy-Efficient Model

Purchasing the right size unit isn’t the only way you can make sure your air conditioner is as energy efficient as possible. In the United States, the Energy Star program certifies products that are the tops in class for energy efficiency. Room air conditioners and whole house units are both available with the Energy Star certification.

Hooking an Energy Star-rated whole-house air conditioner up to an energy inefficient furnace or air handler can negate some of the benefits of buying the unit. Consider replacing the old furnace or air handler with an efficient model at the same time.

 RELATED READ: SEER Ratings-What are They and What Do They Mean?

Set Your Thermostat for Savings

After you purchase the right size air conditioner with an Energy Star certification, the energy efficiency is handed over to you as the homeowner. Using the thermostat correctly can keep your bills low and minimize wear and tear on your unit.

If the home or room is too hot, turning the thermostat all the way down will not cool the space more quickly. Just set the thermostat at the desired temperature – it will get there at the same rate, and you won’t have to adjust the setting later, after you get too cold.

Programmable (timer-operated) thermostats are a great way to maximize the efficiency of central air conditioning. Set a higher temperature for the times when you’re out of the house to minimize A/C usage, and have it kick in 20 or 30 minutes before you normally return from work or school. That’s enough time for most units to make the home comfortable, and it will save hours of unnecessary electricity usage.

 RELATED READ: Your Life Runs on Schedules, Your Thermostat Should Too.

Do you need help selecting whole-house air conditioning or want to the most energy-efficient unit for your home, with professional installation by trained service technicians? Home Comfort Experts has you covered in Michiana. Contact us.

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