Given our long the cooling season in the San Joaquin Valley, choosing high-efficiency air conditioning systems for your home can increase your indoor comfort and lower your electric bill. The minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ration) for new air conditioners and heat pumps stands at 13 in the United States. The SEER rating gives you a good idea of how efficient an air conditioner is over an entire cooling season. Some features of cooling systems increase the SEER number, including:
- Electronically Communicating Motors (ECMs). These motors run the fan in the air handler. They use less electricity, run more quietly and slowly, removing more humidity, helping your home feel cooler. The operate according to the specific climate needs of your home at any given time, rather than running full-speed all the time. This type of motor raises the SEER number for A/C systems and heat pumps.
- Multi-Staged compressors. These also raise the SEER. The compressor runs at top speed only when it’s hottest outdoors, saving electricity during the spring, fall and the cooler hours. Like an ECM, this compressor raises the SEER number.
- Thermal Expansion Valves (TXV). High-efficiency air conditioning may have a TXV with an EER (energy efficiency ratio) rating over 11.6. The valve allows more refrigerant to flow when the weather is hot.
- Air filter sensors. Although the presence of a sensor that alerts you to check or change the filter won’t raise the SEER, it’s an important feature. When too much dust collects on the filter, the airflow slows, increasing the time it takes to cool your home. Filters trap particles that could enter your air handler, hampering the ability of the evaporator coil to cool your home quickly.
- Fan-delay switch. This feature doesn’t raise the SEER, but it does exhaust all the conditioned air from your ducts after the compressor is turned off. This way you enjoy the benefits of the air your system cooled.
- High EER rating. Although cooling systems must indicate their SEER numbers, high EER ratings go hand-in-hand with system efficiency for our area, given our high summer temperatures.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about high-efficiency air conditioning and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
|Air Conditioner image via Shutterstock|