Replacing an inefficient air conditioner (AC) with a more efficient model could significantly reduce your electric bill. A new AC unit is 20 to 40 percent more efficient than one from the 1990s. Replacing an aging system now, before summer starts, could help you avoid delays. How much money you save by replacing your current AC unit depends on how often your AC runs and your comfort settings. We are in a hot
climate and if you keep your home’s comfort settings in the low 70s, your cost of cooling will be substantial and so will the potential savings from replacing your old air conditioner with an efficient new one. 83259001
The best way to determine possible savings is to have an in-home assessment conducted by a qualified heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) professional or a certified energy auditor. Your contractor needs to size the system to your home. Units that are too small will not cool your home to the levels you want. If it’s too large, it may not dehumidify your home sufficiently, and it will cycle on and off more frequently, which can increase wear and tear on the system and shorten its life significantly.
In order to size the system, the contractor will need to look at the efficiency of the home by checking insulation levels. If you add insulation where it’s most needed, you may be able to install a smaller AC unit and enjoy greater comfort and lower cooling costs. The HVAC contractor you hire should also assess your ductwork, which is often poorly designed, leaky or inadequately insulated.
As you talk to your contractor, it’s good to know there are several air conditioning options suited to different situations. It may or may not be practical to change to a different type of system. 14069011
• Central air conditioning is generally one of two types: either split or packaged. A split system, which has the cold coils inside the home and an outside unit exhausting heat, is the most common. Packaged systems, which are sometimes installed because of space constraints, combine these functions into one box located outside the home.
• A ductless mini-split heat pump can be an efficient way to cool up to four zones inside the home. If your existing ductwork is in bad shape or poorly designed or if you have an addition or bonus room, this could
be a good solution.
• Window units are much less efficient than other options, but they can still be effective for cooling a single room. It’s worth paying a little more for a new ENERGY STAR-compliant unit, rather than the dusty $80
unit from the yard sale or auction that wheezes its way through the summer.
Replacing an aging air conditioner is a great way to improve comfort and reduce energy costs.
This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Amy Wheeless of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information please visit: www.collaborativeefficiency.com/energytips