Everyone is talking about it. Make your house green. Install energy-efficient appliances. But what does that mean and how does having energy efficiencies impact your HVAC system? Air conditioning units are measured by how much air they can cool per unit of energy measured in watts. This produces a ratio that indicates how energy efficient a unit is. Newer air conditioning units will be given around a 14 SEER rating whereas older units will be rated at 10 or lower, meaning older units have to consume more energy in order to produce the same cooling temperature. SEER simply stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio.

Outside of simply purchasing an air conditioning unit that has a great SEER rating associated with it, other factors affect the energy performance of your HVAC and air conditioning systems. First and foremost is choosing a correctly sized unit for your home. This can be tricky, especially with smaller homes. The amount of air an air conditioning unit can cool or a furnace can heat is measured in BTUH or British Thermal Units per Hour. 12,000 BTUH is a common unit when talking about heating or cooling because it is equivalent to one ton of heating or cooling capacity per hour. A simple way to think about this is that an energy-efficient home of 2000 square feet can be easily cooled with a unit rated to 20,000 BTUH. Many different factors will affect what unit works best for your home and a qualified professional can find a unit right for you and install it in an optimal way.

There are things that you, as a consumer, can do to increase the energy efficiency of your home and help out your air conditioning unit. The first thing is to check your ducts. Having properly sealed duct work makes sure your air conditioning unit isn’t losing valuable cool air into the crawl space or walls. Patching any leaks with metallic tape specifically designed to seal the metal, and not duct tape, can help reduce the amount of time your unit is running.

Looking at where your home loses heat is critical in making sure your air conditioning unit is only running as much as it’s truly needed. Some of the major offenders in letting cool air escape are windows, doors, and poor insulation. Making sure you have at least double-pane windows will really help out. Also, checking all seals around windows and doors will be of benefit. Try and keep blackout curtains on your windows and keep them closed during the hottest parts of the day. This will reduce the solar impact on your home’s temperature. If you’ve upgraded all windows and insulation in your home, consider seeing if you need an air conditioning unit upgrade. You may need a smaller unit with large energy efficiency changes. Regular maintenance on your air conditioning unit and HVAC system can really help make sure they aren’t drawing any extraneous power. Regular cleanings and checks also help prolong the life of your unit, making it a longer-term investment. Many larger problems can be caught long before they start, keeping maintenance costs low.

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