When you’re A/C shopping, you may find yourself wondering what to focus on for our climate. While the energy efficiency rating will give you solid information about how the system will perform, knowing some specific features to look for can simplify the selection process and help you choose the best system for your home.
Air conditioners must display their SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating prominently. The minimum SEER stands at 13 and anything higher will lower your electrical consumption by 10 percent for each increase in SEER rating. A 16 SEER system will give the same cooling as a 13 SEER, but use 30 percent less electricity. Considering our high electric rates, a higher rated system provides a faster payback than selecting a less efficient system.
Features for our climate that raise the SEER and your comfort include:
- Variable-speed motor in the air handler. These motors, also known as electronically controlled motors (ECMs), use far less electricity than a permanent split capacitor (PSC) motor and run more quietly. They run slower and remove more humidity, along with more airborne particulates. ECMs tend to last longer than PSC motors, as well.
- Dual-speed compressors. Instead of continually running just at high speed, a dual-speed compressor adjusts its running speed and only runs on high when it’s exceptionally hot. The slower running speed uses less electricity, reducing your electric bills.
These features won’t increase the SEER, but do save measurable energy indirectly:
- Fan-only switch. This switch runs the fan in the air handler when your home doesn’t need that much cooling. You may feel comfortable with just the air circulating throughout your home when it’s not as hot.
- Air filter check light. This feature is one of the most important to look for when you’re A/C shopping because a clean air filter keeps your system running more efficiently and reduces the risk of premature wear and breakdowns. The light turns on when your filter needs cleaning.
If you would like professional advice when A/C shopping, contact Around the Clock Heating and Air Conditioning. We’ve provided HVAC services for greater LA since 1967.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Los Angeles, North Hollywood and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about A/C shopping and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock