Residential air conditioning has changed a lot in recent years. There are many new features available and new air conditioners are much more efficient than they used to be. Central air conditioners can last for up to 20 years, so you’ll want to be sure to consider all the new A/C features available when deciding on your next air conditioner.
The standard measure for an air conditioner’s efficiency is the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). This number tells you how much energy the air conditioner uses relative to the cooling it provides, so a higher SEER indicates a more efficient air conditioner. The government set 13 SEER as the minimum efficiency standard for newly manufactured central air conditioners starting in 2006. Though higher SEER air conditioners cost more initially, they will save you money on energy bills over the years. Comparing the likely savings over the years to the initial extra cost can help you determine what level of system efficiency is the best investment for you.
While many of the new A/C features add to efficiency, some of them contribute to comfort and convenience as well. Some of the most common features include:
- Quiet operation
- A light to remind you to replace the filter at regular intervals of operating time
- Ability to operate only the fan – this can help increase circulation to bring cool nighttime air into a home still hot from the day.
- Variable speed fan motor – the ability to operate for long periods at slower speeds offers increased efficiency and comfort, while being easier on system components than the old single-speed motors.
- An automatic delay in turning the fan off – keeping the fan running for a few minutes after the compressor turns off allows the blower to circulate residual cool air from the ducts.
- Thermal expansion valves – these can help the air conditioner remain efficient in very hot weather. Another measure of air conditioner efficiency, EER, is more indicative of hot weather performance. With the warm temperatures Southwest Illinois experiences in the summer, you may want to look for an EER of 11.6 or greater.
If you want expert advice on the new A/C features that are available, please contact us at Ernst Heating & Cooling. We have been proudly serving the Metro-East area – including Alton, Edwardsville and Hamel – for more than six decades.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Alton, Glen Carbon, Highland, Greenville, and Troy, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about A/C features and other HVAC topics, visit our blog.