Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Post by Darin Hansen

How to get the best efficiency out of your air conditioning system this summer

When it comes time to crank up the cooling power of your ac system this summer there are some things to consider in addition to simply keeping your family comfortable! Given the state of the world and environment there is no shortage of people that are interested in getting the best efficiency out of your ac unit. While these are similar whether you are a home owner with a central air conditioning system or use a portable / window air conditioner to stave off the heat, there are some differences so I will touch them separately. Given that the average US home will spend $1,000 in cooling costs this summer it can help your pocket book significantly in addition to helping the environment.

How to improve the efficiency of your central air conditioner system

Perhaps no piece of HVAC equipment has undergone a larger improvement in efficiency in the past decade than the central air conditioner. What was common to be an 8-10 SEER unit the last time you bought an AC system, you can find units up to 20+ SEER these days. This is one way to get more cooling for your utility dollars. To be fair this would involve scrapping a unit that maybe already works, but it is a way to use less energy.

The best ways to get the most out of a central AC unit without replacing are to ensure that there is nothing stopping airflow. If you have a air filter that is more than a month old you likely need to replace it. In addition, your outdoor condenser tends to gather debris on the outside and should be cleaned with either a hose or an air compressor. Doing just these can have a significant impact on your energy usage this summer.

How to improve the efficiency of your portable or window air conditioner system

Much like a central AC system, the efficiency of newer models is much better than the older units that many have. If you have the money to spend this is a great way to lower your footprint. Again, to be fair you would be adding another unit to our landfills so it isn’t a complete win-win situation. Make sure you get R410a as the refrigerant, it is quite a bit better than the old R22 which some units still use.

Thankfully there are also ways to ensure that your portable or window unit gets more bang for its buck. With a portable system finding a way to get the exhaust air to the outside of the room your cooling is paramount. Often a hose leading outside it preferable. Another great way to conserve energy is to cool only the areas you are in at the moment. As opposed to cooling the entire house or apartment, cool only the room that you are in. With a window unit, similar to a central ac system, you need to make sure that the outside part of the AC unit is clean of debris which will sap more energy.

When it comes to staying cool and conserving energy you can see there are some ways to go about lessening your footprint on the world. Try a few this summer and reap the benefits.


Darin Hansen is an HVAC veteran who has seen just about every side of the HVAC business from web wholesaler to the manufacturing floor. You can read more about all things HVAC related on his site including a long list of HVAC reviews from just about every major manufacturer.

3 comments :

  1. We have "air" conditioning - meaning we open our windows and doors :-D -- no AC here and I'm so glad! Course we live in Maggie and it's cooler in the cove with our creek.

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  2. Darin-
    Great post. I live in Houston, so air conditioning is a must. We'll be sure to change our filters monthly, right now I think we only change them every 2 months or so. I'll check with the hubs. Anything to do to ensure a long life of the AC and lower bills :)

    Smallftpts - Thought of you today. I'm drinking organic carrot/apple juice whilst roaming around my house turning off unused lights. The little things you are teaching me:)

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  3. @ Kathryn - that is the best way of all to reduce your footprint! LOL

    @ Nicki - One thing I forgot to add to my list for both central and portable AC units is that closing your window blinds during the day in the heat helps immensely. As for extending the life of your AC unit regular maintenance is the best way outside of changing your filter regularly.

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