Already this summer we are seeing very high temperatures and high humidity. There is no better feeling than walking into your air-conditioned house from the sauna-like weather outside. You’re living in bliss until you realize your air conditioning unit has been running non-stop for hours. Once your first energy bill comes after a full month of summer heat, you realize you’re going to have to find a way to cut down the amount of work your air conditioning system is doing. In this post we will look at four ways to reduce your air conditioning energy costs.
What are you looking for in an air conditioner? Certainly you’re looking for an air conditioner big enough to cool your home efficiently, yet still economical enough to fit within your budget. So the first thing you should look for are the numbers.
Take a typical two-story home with interior space of 3,000 square feet.The cooling capacity for air conditioners is measured in tons. One ton is equal to the amount of energy to melt a one-ton block of ice in 24 hours. In our climate for Southwest Michigan, house inspectors roughly estimate that it takes 700 to 1,000 square feet per ton cooling capacity to be adequate. So if you’re the owner of this typical home, you’re looking for a central air conditioner of approximately 3 to 4.3 tons cooling capacity.
That’s a starting point, giving you a range of air conditioners that can adequately cool your home. The next number to look at is an air conditioner’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER number. The higher the SEER number, the higher the efficiency. As of 2006, a federal mandate required all new central air conditioning equipment be rated at least SEER-13, but current air conditioners can rate as high as 18, and some reach the low 20s.
Consumers Energy has an online tool that can help you translate that rating into an estimated annual cost for running your air conditioner. It’s based on the likely amount you would use your air conditioning during the cooling season for this region. You enter in the square footage of your home, the current cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) that you can find on your energy bill, and the SEER ratings of the models you’re considering.
Going back to our typical home with an electric rate of $0.13/kWh, purchasing a system with a SEER 13 rating will cost you $354 annually to run. If you choose an air conditioner with a SEER-16 rating, available in most of the central air conditioners Metzger’s Heating & Cooling offers from Bryant, the yearly cost estimate is $288.
If you choose an air conditioner with a SEER-21 rating, available in Bryant’s top model of its Evolution line, the cost is $219. That’s a savings of $135, or a savings of $1,350 over 10 years.
These numbers however, only get you into the ballpark. No one lives in a “typical” home. Even if your home has the same square footage, you also have to consider the energy efficiency of your home, including the amount of insulation you have, possible air leaks around windows and doors, and other conditions that affect energy use. Information on having a home energy audit done for your home is available through your power utility company, including eligibility for rebates when you improve your home’s energy efficiency.
The cost of a new air conditioner is the final factor, but can often be the deciding one. If you look at not just the purchase cost, however, but the use cost and additional savings you can realize if you improve your home’s energy efficiency, a high-efficiency central air conditioners may indeed be the best buy. Contact us at Metzger’s Heating & Cooling today before the hot weather arrives in the Kalamazoo region. Let us help you determine the best cooling choices for your home.