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April 25, 2018  |  Login
Air Conditioning Your Home: Selecting More Efficient Systems
By Eric Corey Freed
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Efficient Cooling Systems
  • Air Conditioning
  • Fans

Central air conditioning is the biggest single user of energy in your home, and the most wasted one as well. Most people set the thermostat lower than necessary, because they think it’ll make the cold come out faster (it won’t). Compare your utility bills from March with those in August and you can see firsthand how much air conditioning is costing you.

Ironically, air conditioning produces more heat outside than it relieves inside. During the summer, it’s estimated that air conditioning is responsible for nearly half the electricity used in the United States.

Tip: Although you may think you can’t live without your air conditioner, in truth, a home can be built to never need air conditioning. If you’re still considering a central air-conditioning system, purchase an Energy Star–rated unit, with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 12 or higher. Also, look for units with a fan-only option and a replaceable filter.

Individual Window Units

Instead of installing central air (see Forced-Air Systems) consider individual window units. They cost less to operate and they cool only the areas you need.

Tip: Be sure to properly size the unit for the room; people tend to buy the biggest air conditioner they can find, wasting money and energy. Place the unit in a window away from direct sunlight, or plant a tree outside to shade that window.

Ductless Units

A more attractive and less noisy option, ductless air conditioners use a simple outdoor condenser unit to run power and refrigerant to small, wall-mounted fans. Instead of filling a window, the ductless unit can go anywhere on the wall. Because the refrigeration takes place outside, ductless units are much quieter than a central or window unit system. But expect to pay double the cost of a simple window unit for a ductless unit.

Ice Energy

Ice energy is an innovative and cost-effective system for cooling a building. A large box in your yard produces a block of ice at night, when the temperature is cool and electricity costs are lower. During the day, a fan blows air over the ice, creating air conditioning. By time-shifting most of the energy use to night, an ice energy system can save you hundreds off your utility bills. Commercial units have been around for some time, and smaller residential units are now finally available as well from companies like Ice Energy ( ).



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