Practical Systems is a complete residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor servicing the Minneapolis, MN. Whether you are in need of a simple or complex system, you can depend on us to provide you with all the facts needed to make a sound decision.
If you have a conventional air conditioner or you are considering purchasing one, there are some important things to know about how these machines work the operating cost, energy efficiency, cost, size, and maintenance. Conventional room air conditioners and conventional central air conditioning are the most popular cooling methods in use today in the U.S.
Conventional air conditioners work by way of a very complex process with several critical parts which essentially cool the air by pushing it across coils that are cooled with a refrigerant to remove the heat from the air and re-circulate the cooled air back into the home. An evaporator inside the home draws heat from the air. The compressor pressurizes the evaporated fluid and sends it outside to the condenser. The heat is then released to the outside and the fluid is pumped back to the evaporator.
Central air conditioners are rated on the basis of a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the number, the more efficient the unit is and the less it will cost to operate it. Units manufactured before 1992 commonly had a SEER rating of about 6. Standards in 2008, however, require that units have a SEER rating or at least 10. If you are buying a new conventional central air conditioner, you should look for a SEER rating of 13 or more, if possible, and the unit should carry the EnergyStar seal.
Many of these new units also have additional energy-saving features, such as the ability to run the fan without activating the air conditioner, a programmable thermostat, adjustable fan speed controls and high efficiency devices. The 2008 cost for a central air conditioning system, including installation will run in the $3,000-9,000 range.
Choosing a central air conditioning system of the right size is also important. Many homes today have oversized air conditioning systems. Getting the right size unit will save both initial cost and ongoing operating cost.
There are a number of things you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your conventional central air conditioner:
- Seal ducts in unused portions of the home.
- Set your thermostat at 78°F
- Change disposable filters every month
- Keep weeds and grass away from the compressor
- Have the system professionally serviced every year
- Turn the temperature up or off during peak demand hours of the day
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Weatherize your home
With these basic facts, you should be ready to make your existing conventional central air conditioning system more efficient or to select a high-efficiency new system. If you are trying to achieve maximum efficiency, you should also investigate heat pumps.