If you’ve been shopping around, you’ve probably run across one of the largest sticking points with picking a new air conditioner unit: efficiency ratings. What system is the most efficient? What does efficiency even mean, and is it actually all that important? Follow along with the team at Bovio Rubino Service while we dive into these common topics!
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Why Is AC Efficiency Important?
You’ve heard it before. The term “efficiency” is thrown around in every HVAC discussion you’ll have. However, it’s far more than a buzzword. The efficiency of your cooling system essentially tells you how much power it needs to get its job done, helping you understand the utility needs of the system, and by extension, how much you can expect to save/lose when it comes to your monthly costs.
Modern Cooling Systems Efficiency Ratings
The efficiencies of modern cooling equipment can vary wildly, using a rating system called “SEER”, or the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This is the baseline measurement used in the industry, and though there are other measurements to be used as well, we’ll stick to SEER for simplicity’s sake.
The higher a SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioning system. For example, Carrier’s Infinity Series line of air conditioners offers SEER ratings of up to 21! These units are built for full home comfort and remain one of the most efficient air conditioners on the market today.
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Because SEER ratings are available in broad ranges for all system types (for example you can find an 18 SEER central system and an 18 SEER heat pump), it’s better overall to understand how each cooling system works, and which tend to be the most efficient overall.
Standard central air conditioning systems are the bread and butter of the cooling world. They are purchasable at a relatively low price point, are quite powerful, and tend to last around 10 years with proper maintenance. However, they also tend to operate at the lowest efficiencies overall.
Heat pump systems remain quite popular as well, and as a system that can achieve efficiency ratings that exceed 100%, are a strong contender for one of the most efficient options available. Though they boast a higher than average initial cost, this is somewhat offset by the system offering both heating and cooling, saving you the cost of buying each individually.
Ductless systems and zoning AC systems are the big new thing in the HVAC industry and offer excellent efficiency ratings not only on their own, but also through the power of home zoning. This means you can cool different determined sectors of the home independently (great for those that like a chilly bedroom but a warmer living room, for example). This ability helps you shave down on costs in areas that don’t necessarily need to stay all that cold, saving you additional cost in addition to the good efficiency rating of the system.
Inverter air conditioning systems are closely related to the normal “split” AC’s mentioned above, except for one factor — their compressor. Instead of starting and stopping like a normal air conditioner, the technology in an inverter air conditioning unit drives the compressor at speeds that vary with the temperature. In doing so, it lowers the amount of electric power it consumes and saves energy.
Which AC System Is the Most Efficient?
Inverter AC units are designed specifically to be energy efficient and will use the least amount of power while keeping your home cool. But before you call up your trusty AC contractor, you need to consider more than just overall efficiency.
Because each system type offers distinct advantages, disadvantages, and different budget and home requirements, what system is the best for your needs is going to depend. Additionally, it is actually possible to have too much efficiency, or essentially it is possible to hit a diminishing return in which higher efficiency will not benefit your home further for the price you’re paying.
All of this together means that it is imperative that you work with an AC service company that is trained, certified, and puts your needs above all else.