Time to Upgrade your A/C? How the ENERGY STAR Label Can Help
The average homeowner spends about $875 per year on heating and cooling, and replacing an air conditioning unit that is more than 12 years old with an ENERGY STAR certified model could cut your cooling cost by 30%. In warm climates like Naples, Bonita Springs or Ft. Myers Florida, living with an old, inefficient central A/C system can cost you both in terms of high bills and discomfort.
If you are thinking about an A/C installation to upgrade your system, the yellow label can help you make a wise purchase.
How to Judge Energy Efficiency:
The acronym “SEER” stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the system. Older central a/c systems have a SEER rating of 6 or less; the most energy efficient models available today have a SEER of 13 or higher. This is the minimum SEER currently required by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and it means that these systems require 30% less energy to run than systems having a SEER of 10, which was the previous minimum requirement.
Understanding the Yellow Label:
Energy guide labels (the bold yellow label) are required by the FDA for central air conditioning systems and they help consumers understand what it will cost to operate a system over time. The diagram below explains information provided on the yellow Energy Guide label. It includes basic information like key features, the manufacturer, model and size. The number in the center shows you what it will cost to run that particular central air conditioning system, on average, for a year. It also shows a range of low to high costs of similar models; so this makes it very easy for you to compare models side by side. The label also includes the estimated kilowatt hours used to run the air conditioning system for a year; multiply this number by your local electricity rate for the most accurate estimate of what your operating cost will be. Be sure the look for the ENERGY STAR logo on the label; this indicates that the product uses less energy than standard models and generates fewer emissions into the atmosphere.
Other Important Tips to Keep in Mind:
- A unit that is too small will work too hard to keep your home cool, so it will use more energy and the system is likely to wear prematurely. If it is too big, it will cycle on and off too quickly and will not efficiently remove humidity from your home.
- While some people are tempted to just replace the outdoor condenser, you need to be sure that the new condenser is properly matched to the older system; differences in refrigerants and design often make a full replacement the wisest option.
The best way to be sure that you are getting a system that is properly matched to your home and needs is to consult with a Certified A/C installation contractor. He can answer your questions and perform a full analysis and recommendation. Call us today at (239) 204-4114 for a no-obligation, in-home consultation.