Energy efficiency is one of the most important factors when installing a new air conditioning system or replacing your existing AC. Running your air conditioning is always somewhat expensive since ACs use so much energy. This is where investing in a high-efficiency AC system can provide major benefits by cooling your home while using as little energy as possible. In this guide, we’ll explain what the most energy-efficient AC options are to help you make a more informed decision on which is the best for your home.

Two-Stage Air Conditioners

The term two-stage refers to the fact that this type of AC system has two cooling speeds or stages: high and medium. That makes it different from standard central AC systems that only have a single stage and always cool at full speed. One of the main issues with single-stage ACs is that they cool so quickly that they typically only run for 15-20 minutes at a time. Since the temperature inside the house quickly increases as soon as the AC shuts off, it leads to the system turning on and off a few times per hour. This is an issue in terms of efficiency and energy because it takes around three to five times as much electricity to turn the system on compared to how much power it uses when running.

When a two-stage AC turns on, it always starts running at the medium setting. That means it requires much less energy for it to turn on. The system will then only switch to the high setting and run at full power if the temperature in the house doesn’t start to drop after a certain period of time, usually around 10 to 15 minutes. When cooling on the medium setting, the system works much more efficiently and uses around 30%-40% less energy than when running on high.

Most two-stage ACs will only run on high around 20% of the time, which greatly reduces their energy consumption. Essentially, the high setting is only used on much hotter days or in situations where the AC turns on and your home is much hotter than you want it to be. The medium setting is then used on milder days, evenings and basically any time your home is within a few degrees of your desired temperature.

Whenever a two-stage AC is running on the medium setting, it will stay on for longer since it doesn’t cool as quickly. This is actually a good thing since it limits how often the system cycles so that it doesn’t use extra energy by frequently needing to turn back on. It also allows the system to provide more even cooling throughout the home since it will generally always run long enough to ensure every room is fully cool.

Variable-Speed Air Conditioners

Variable-speed air conditioners are even more efficient than two-stage systems and are the most efficient type of central air conditioning. Instead of only having two cooling stages or speeds, variable-speed systems typically have several hundred. Most systems can slow down to where they only use around 25%-30% of the power they would when running on high. This type of system also uses a variable-speed blower that can automatically adjust how fast it runs and thus how much energy it uses.

A variable-speed AC will usually run continuously throughout most summer days. It will then only shut off at night when the temperature outside drops enough that you no longer need air conditioning for your home to stay cool. Even though a variable-speed system will run for many more hours a day than other types of ACs, it will still use far less energy overall. That’s because it will always run as slowly as it can without the temperature in the home starting to increase, which ensures it works as efficiently as possible.

Cooling continuously at as low of a speed as possible allows the system to maintain the desired temperature the majority of the time. In most cases, your home won’t ever get more than one or maybe two degrees hotter than you want it to be.

Variable-speed systems also have many other advantages that can make them a great choice. One is that they are extremely quiet since their motors run so slowly. Another is that they typically last longer than other ACs since running at low speeds leads to far less wear and tear. The motors in an AC system are under lots of additional strain when they start up. This is where variable-speed systems have the advantage since they don’t need to start up multiple times each day. There is also less strain when the system starts up since its motors will start running at low speed and then only slowly increase their speed as necessary.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Ductless mini-split ACs are the perfect choice for any home that doesn’t have central HVAC, such as houses with radiant heating. The majority of mini-splits are quite a bit more effective than most central ACs. One reason is that most central AC systems have at least some issues such as ductwork leaks that cause them to work less efficiently and essentially waste energy. The cool air coming out of a central AC system also gains some heat as it travels through the duct system, reducing how quickly the system can cool.

Mini-split systems still have an AC condenser unit located outside. The difference is that, instead of having one central air handler that circulates cool air, a mini-split system has multiple air handlers. Each air handler is responsible for cooling the air in the surrounding area, which means you typically have one unit in each room.

One major advantage of a mini-split system is that each air handler works independently of the others. That allows you to set your desired temperature for each room. You can also turn the air handlers in unoccupied parts of the home off. These two factors combined provide you with far greater control over your air conditioning and make it easy to minimize the amount of electricity the system uses.

Zoned Air Conditioning

Most homes with central AC have a single-zone system. That means that one thermostat controls the entire system and the system always supplies cold air to every part of the house at the same time. A zoned system is somewhat similar to a mini-split in that you can set different temperatures for different parts of the home. Each zone has an independent thermostat that controls a damper or gate inside the ductwork. That means the system will only cool areas that currently need it instead of sending cool air to every room. This is because the dampers can close to block off the airflow to the zones that are already at the desired temperature.

Most zoned systems use variable-speed ACs, which makes them extremely efficient. With this type of system, the AC will typically run even slower than it would normally since it will rarely need to cool every zone at the same time. That means you can save a huge amount on your energy bills and also ensure that every part of your home stays exactly at whatever temperature you want.

Reliable HVAC Professionals

Premier Heating and Air is the Denver Metro area’s top source for air conditioning and heating. Our certified technicians have years of experience in AC installation and are ready to help you choose the best, most efficient system for your home. You can also count on us for expert maintenance and repairs to ensure your AC and heating continue working as efficiently as they should. Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn all about the most efficient options for cooling your home.

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