If you’re planning on installing a new central AC unit for your home, you should always focus on finding the most energy-efficient unit available in your price range. While a higher-efficiency unit will be more expensive upfront, it will also usually end up saving you quite a bit of money in the long run. In this article, we’ll explain the various factors to focus on to ensure that your new AC unit is as energy efficient as possible.

Learn What SEER Ratings Mean

SEER and SEER2 ratings tell you how energy efficient AC units are and also allow you to compare how much different units would cost to run per year. Both ratings basically tell you the same thing, and the only real difference between the old SEER rating scale and the new SEER2 scale is that SEER2 is slightly more accurate.

SEER ratings are essentially just a ratio of how much total energy an AC would use in one year to how many BTUs of cooling it provides. The higher this ratio or SEER rating is, the more efficient an AC is and the less it will cost to run.

In California, the minimum required by federal law for any new AC unit is 15 SEER or 14.3 SEER2. Each higher SEER or SEER2 value is equal to an approximately 7% increase in energy efficiency. That means that a 16 SEER (15.2 SEER2) AC would use around 7% less energy per year than a 15 SEER unit. If you chose a 20 SEER unit, your annual energy costs would be around 35% lower than with a 15 SEER unit. The most efficient central AC units currently available are around 28 SEER, and a unit like this would likely save you up to a few hundred dollars per year compared to a more basic unit.

Consider What Type of AC Unit to Install

If you want something more efficient, you should definitely consider going with either a two-stage or variable-speed unit. Basic ACs are single-stage units, which means they can only run at full power. Two-stage units can also run at full power but will run at approximately 60-70% power the majority of the time. The exceptions are during much hotter days or if the AC comes on when your home is much warmer than the temperature you have your thermostat set at. A two-stage unit will typically lower your yearly cooling costs by 20-30% compared to a single-stage unit. It will also likely last longer since it won’t cycle on and off as frequently, which reduces the wear and tear on the compressor motor and various other components. The other main advantage of two-stage ACs is that they provide more even, consistent cooling throughout every part of the home, since they run for longer at a slower speed each time they cycle on.

Variable-speed ACs typically have several hundred speeds or power settings instead of just one or two. Most of these units can run at as low as 25% of their full capacity and will continually adjust their speed and thus the rate at which they cool based on the indoor and outdoor temperatures. While variable-speed ACs will always be the most efficient and thus cost the least to operate, they are quite costly compared to single-stage and two-stage units. This isn’t to say that a variable-speed unit is necessarily a bad choice, but a two-stage unit will often be the most cost-effective option overall.

Make Sure You Get the Right Size AC for Your Home

Ensuring that your AC is the correct size for your home is also key for keeping your energy bills as low as possible. An undersized unit will always struggle to work effectively, except on much cooler days. This means that it will cool quite slowly and need to run much longer, leading to it using much more energy. The fact that an undersized AC will run so much more also means it will have a shorter lifespan.

An oversized AC will cool extremely quickly but also use much more energy than necessary. The other issue with oversized units is that they are prone to short cycling, which is when they only run for a few minutes and then come back on fairly soon after shutting off. This also leads to the unit having a much shorter lifespan since constantly cycling on and off causes much more wear and tear.

Determining the correct size of AC unit for your home isn’t a simple task. This is because it depends on a wide variety of different factors including the square footage of your home, the climate where you live, the level of insulation in your home, how many windows and exterior doors your home has, etc. The fact that sizing an AC is so complicated and getting the right size unit is so critical is why you should make sure to hire an experienced HVAC company. This way, you can be certain that they properly calculate exactly what size AC unit you need and not risk wasting your money on an undersized or oversized unit.

Think About Where to Install Your AC

No matter which AC unit you decide on, it’s important that you carefully consider the location outside your house where you intend to install it. That’s because the location of the unit can directly impact how efficiently it can work and potentially even how long it lasts. One of the main reasons why location is important is that an AC unit will always work most efficiently and effectively if it’s in a more shaded area where it doesn’t receive much direct sunlight during the afternoon. If the unit is in a sunny area, it won’t be able to release the heat it removed from the house as effectively. This can then lead to the refrigerant retaining some latent heat when it gets pumped back inside. That means the AC system won’t be able to cool as quickly, resulting in it using more energy.

Putting an AC on the north side of a home is the best option whenever possible, since it will be shaded by the house throughout much of the day. The east side of your house is also a good option since your house will provide the unit shade during the afternoon. The worst location is generally the south side of a building where the unit will be directly exposed to the sun for pretty much the entire day. The exception in this regard is if you have a large tree that can provide the unit with shade. If you don’t have a suitable shady area, you could also just put an awning above the unit so it receives at least some shade.

We Care Plumbing, Heating and Air has been providing expert AC services in Murrieta, Orange, Temecula, San Marcos and throughout Southern California for more than 20 years. We specialize in AC installation, and we carry an extensive selection of efficient AC units sure to meet your specific needs. When you choose us, you can rest assured that we’ll help you understand all of your available options and help you select the best unit for your home. You can also count on us if you need any AC repairs or maintenance services and for all of your heating and plumbing needs. To learn more about your options for a new AC unit, contact our expert team today.

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