Central Air Conditioners
The most common way to cool a home is with a central air conditioning system. The large compressor and outdoor coil are located outdoors and are connected by refrigerant lines to an indoor coil which generally sits above your furnace.
Air Conditioning Efficiency (SEER)
The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is a measurement of the cooling efficiency of the air conditioner over the entire cooling season. It is determined by dividing the total cooling output over the cooling season, in British thermal units per hour, by the total electric energy input by the air conditioner during the same time period, in watt/hours. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency. The minimum standard SEER rating is 13 for air conditioners. Most modern air conditioners have a SEER that ranges from 13 to 21.
What is the ideal SEER rating for my home?
It is hard to give a quick answer because a good SEER rating depends on many factors related to each home including location, the size and orientation of windows, attic and wall insulation levels, and the amount of heat being generated in the room, number of bedrooms and etc.
A 13 or 14 SEER rating doesn’t necessarily mean a unit is inefficient. Most older A/C systems are rated at around 8 or 9, so even the lowest available SEER rated system you buy today will be much more energy efficient.Is high SEER a good SEER rating for you and your money? Maybe not. High SEER A/C is typically twice as expensive as the low SEER and you may not need that for your house base on the size of the house. In the end, high SEER is going to be less reliable than a sturdy 14 SEER or 16 SEER air conditioning system.
Proper maintenance is critical in ensuring that your central air conditioner will operate efficiently and extend its lifespan.You can do some of the simple maintenance yourself, but you may also want to have a competent service contractor do a periodic inspection of your unit.The best time to service a central air conditioner is just prior to the beginning of cooling season.Filter and coil maintenance can have a dramatic impact on system performance and its lifespan.The air conditioner’s evaporator and condenser coils collect dirt over time, so should be vacuumed or brushed clean to keep it clear of dirt, leaves and grass clippings. Vacuum the fins of your AC unit clean with a soft-bristle brush. Replace one-inch pleated filters once a month. Consider a professional cleaning if the outdoor coil becomes badly plugged.You can use a condenser coil cleaner but be very careful with these cleaners and follow the directions carefully. Using this cleaner is an amazing way to keep your outdoor unit in working order.The aluminum fins on evaporator and condenser coils are easily bent and can block airflow through the coil. Air conditioning wholesalers sell a tool called a “fin comb” that will comb these fins back into nearly original condition.
Both the furnace fan and outdoor unit fan should be cleaned and lubricated where applicable and following manufacturers’ instructions. The furnace-fan speed can be checked and adjusted at the same time, to ensure peak performance.Make sure all your doors and windows are properly sealed to prevent the air leakage and help keep your house cool. Perform a visual inspection of your ductwork occasionally to be sure it is sealed correctly. If the ductwork is not properly sealed, cool air will escape before getting into your home. The less cool air that escapes your home, the less your unit will have to work.