If you are planning on purchasing a new air conditioner, efficiency is probably one of the most important factors on your list. That’s great! After all, a new energy-efficient air conditioner can be beneficial for both your wallet and the environment.
But what makes an HVAC system efficient? Should you just focus on the HVAC’s SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating? The higher the SEER rating the more efficient the system is, right? Well…kind of, but there is more to it than that.
While SEER is important, other factors can impact the efficiency of your HVAC unit. Learn more from our HVAC pros at Integrity Home Solutions!
What Does the SEER Rating Mean?
SEER is just one indicator of an air conditioning system’s efficiency. Currently, the lowest SEER rating for most residential AC systems is 14. The highest for split systems is 25, though mini-splits are even more efficient.
But it is important to remember that like the miles per gallon number for your car, these SEER ratings are not guaranteed.
The highest SEER rating will only apply if the unit is operating under ideal conditions.
Ultimately, SEER describes the efficiency that the AC unit can provide, not what it will always provide. It’s more of a guideline than a hard and fast rating.
What Other Factors Impact AC Efficiency?
When considering AC efficiency there are several factors to consider including:
- Temperature set point
- Air duct conditions
- Poor airflow
- Dirty AC coils
- Annual maintenance
Let’s take a closer look at each.
#1. Temperature Set Point
The efficiency of your air conditioner can also be influenced by the temperature set point that is programmed into your thermostat. Maintaining a specific temperature can be taxing on your air conditioner, especially when it is hot outside, therefore for each degree of separation between the exterior temperature and the interior temperature, the unit must use more energy.
Setting your cooling system to around 76-78 degrees is a good compromise between comfortable temperatures and efficiency.
Avoid lowering your thermostat below 76, and never try to cool your home down as quickly as possible, doing so can deplete the AC’s efficiency resulting in higher energy costs.
Pro tip: Try setting the thermostat a few degrees higher when you leave your home. This allows your air conditioner to rest a bit and boosts its efficiency without having to work too hard when you return home.
#2. Air Duct Conditions
If your air ducts are clogged or are in poor condition, your air conditioner won’t be able to distribute air properly and will lose efficiency over time.
Cleaning and patching air ducts can be effective in ensuring that they function effectively. Plus, doing so will increase the system’s overall cooling efficiency allowing for better temperature control and circulation.
#3. Poor Airflow
If your air conditioner can’t “breathe”, your air handler will have to work harder, thus consuming a lot of power. Poor airflow can be caused by:
- Clogged air filters
- Blocked condenser unit
- Problems with your ductwork
Make sure that you change your air filters every 30-60 days and clear the area around the condenser unit to avoid poor airflow. Have your system inspected by a certified HVAC technician if your energy bills are unusually high.
Learn More > When to Change Your HVAC Filter
#4. Dirty AC Coils
When dirt and debris build up on your condenser or evaporator coils, it can affect how they transfer heat. This can make it impossible for your air conditioner to remove heat from your home, resulting in a massive energy drain.
Keep your coils clean by getting your system cleaned and keep track of your air filter replacements. Installing a higher-efficiency air filter can also help in minimizing dust build-up throughout your system.
#5. Annual Maintenance
Your air conditioner, just like your vehicle, needs regular care and maintenance to run smoothly and effectively year after year. Small issues can become big ones if they are not addressed, and the efficiency of your system can plummet dramatically, costing you more on your monthly energy bill.
Make sure to put HVAC maintenance on your calendar once in the spring and again in the fall. A professional tune-up can do wonders for your HVAC’s efficiency, so don’t neglect it!
Learn More > 8 Ways to Improve HVAC Efficiency
Boost Your HVAC System Efficiency
Whether you are in the market for a new HVAC or want to maximize the efficiency of your current unit, a little maintenance and TLC can go a long way. And while SEER ratings are important, they are just part of the efficiency equation, so it is important to do your due diligence to keep your system running at peak efficiency.