If you’re thinking about upgrading your central air conditioner, two realities may help guide the decision-making process: (1) Cooling costs are high now. (2) Next year, they’ll be even higher. To stay ahead of the curve, every opportunity for efficiency gain should be considered. SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) ratings measure the cooling output of a new A/C unit in relation to its electrical consumption. By federal law, SEER 13 is the required minimum, widely available in basic, low-cost systems. High-efficiency units — SEER 15 and above — have steeper upfront cost but return greater dividends in energy savings.
For each number you advance up the SEER scale, you may gain nearly 10 percent in efficiency. SEER ratings for central air now climb into the high 20s, so large leaps in energy conservation and the lower cooling costs that go with it are attainable. Higher-efficiency equipment also incorporates technology not included in the bargain units — nor invented when your old-school unit was manufactured — that extends its expected service life. A longer service life with energy savings from day one can offset the higher initial price differential.
In addition to efficiency gains, high-efficiency air conditioners offer features such as these, not usually available on minimum standard units:
- Dual-stage compressors. Single-stage compressors run flat out all the time, no matter the cooling load. Since full compressor output is necessary only on the hottest days of the year — roughly just 15 percent of the time — the rest of the time a single-stage compressor is wasting energy and shortening component life. Dual-stage compressors automatically cycle between low and high output modes, reducing wear and noise.
- Free circulation. The fan-only option on high-efficiency units permits circulation of air without running the compressor. This is useful at hours when the house is cool such as overnight or in the early mornings.
- Quieter operation. Sound suppression technology utilized in the outdoor components of the system include vibration isolation for the compressor and thick noise-dampening insulation. Energy Star high-efficiency air conditioners produce less than 75 decibels of noise outdoors.
- Longer Life, Longer Warranty. The technology that produces high SEER ratings also extends service life. This is reflected by the longer warranties — generally 10 years — not available on basic equipment.
Comfort Systems keeps Wichita area homeowners comfortable through all four seasons with experienced sales, service and customer support personnel. Let us help show you the way to higher cooling efficiency and lower cooling costs.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about cooling costs and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.