Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Get the best out of your air conditioner - Tips on efficiency

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 5% of all electricity consumption is prevalent for the purpose of air conditioning commercial and residential spaces in the United States alone. The newer and modern air conditioning systems are more energy efficient and use less power than older units. So you can save a lot on electric bills and benefit the environment by switching over to the latest air conditioning units.

Here are some energy saving tips to help you make use of your air conditioner in an efficient manner.
  • Size – Not many people are aware of buying the right size unit for their home or office. The area you wish to cool indoors is one of the most important factors of maintaining energy efficiency. It is not wise to install large air conditioning units for small areas and small air conditioning units for large areas, as it will consume more power and energy.
  • Ratings – Energy Efficiency Ratio otherwise called EER is used to measure the energy efficiency of air conditioners. Now it’s mandatory for people to install air conditioners according to the national appliance standards. Cooling systems must have an EER rating of 10.0. According to the U.S Department of Energy, a higher rating indicates better energy efficiency.
  • Installation – To maximize energy efficiency, it is imperative to install the air conditioner carefully. You also need to make sure that the unit is at level, installed in a shaded area and the drainage systems and internal mechanisms are functioning properly. This will ensure that there is no heating effect of direct sunlight on the system’s heat exchange unit.
  • Location – You can install the cooling unit away from electrical appliances like television sets or lamps, since the heat from those appliances can trigger the working of the air conditioner unnecessarily and thereby use more power. So the actual location of installing an air conditioner has an impact on your energy bills and its working energy efficiency.
  • Usage – Remember to switch off the unit during working hours or when you are out running errands or on a vacation. This way you can reduce the amount of time the air conditioner runs. To ensure efficient operation, you need to service and maintain the unit on a regular basis according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also install a thermostat to set the temperature accordingly in different indoor areas according to an individual’s room usage. A fan can also be used elsewhere to circulate cool, conditioned air indoors.
  • Keep the filter clean – You can cut energy costs by up to 15% if you properly clean and maintain your system’s filters. A dusty and dirty filter reduces air flow and also allows contaminants to flow indoors. The unit’s filters should be examined once a month so that it can be cleaned or replaced accordingly.
  • Maintain vents and ducts – The air ducts should be properly insulated especially the ones that pass through any unconditioned areas like the attic. Check for leaks or holes in the ductwork. Ask your contractor to conduct a thorough check of your vents and ducts, especially if you have a central air conditioner installed. You also need to close unused indoor spaces and make sure that there is no furniture obstructing the vents.
  • Use fans for cooling – An appliance that offers supplemental cooling is the simple fan. No one says that it can replace an air conditioner but substituting it on cooler days will help you save up to 60% on energy costs. You can set the fans on high in air conditioned spaces except on days when the weather is humid. This will help in circulating cool air in all the rooms.
  • Check for leaks – Check to see if there are any hot spots around the house. This help you determine if there are any leaks near openings like windows, doors and fireplace dampers. Weather stripping and caulking can be applied on doors and windows to seal any leaks.
  • Set the thermostat – Setting your thermostat to the right temperature can help in cooling your indoors effectively. The right temperature would be 78 degrees Fahrenheit during hot weather conditions. This will help in reducing your cooling costs anywhere between 12 to 47 percent. You will be running your unit far less efficiently if you set it too low as it will not cool the indoors faster.
  • Insulate the house – The easy way to help your wallet and the environment is to insulate your home thoroughly. Installing insulation for the attic, basement, floors, doors and walls will separate your living space from the outdoors thereby making it more comfortable to live in. You can maintain a stable temperature throughout the day and lower utility bills. There are a lot of benefits for natural light, but the sun's rays can increase the heat in your home. You can install drapes and blinds to reduce the sun’s heat from entering inside. If you do need natural light indoors, then plan on installing reflective film on windows to obstruct and block out some of the heat.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Explore different choices when you want to buy an air conditioner

Air conditioning systems comes in different varieties, styles and budgetary preferences. You can choose an air conditioning unit depending on the size required for a residence or office and the area it has to be installed in to ensure maximum efficiency and comfort, keeping in mind the price of the system itself. 

The first thing you need to remember is what type of room air conditioner you need. That factor wholly depends on the installation you're prepared to do and where you want to house it. Many homeowners feel that a central AC system will be the right choice for cooling homes and offices but they require expert installation and also come with a high price tag. Compared to a smaller window AC, they also cost more to operate. So if you need an AC unit to cool only specific rooms in a home, then a window or split air conditioner can be your best bet. Also take care not to purchase any type of system in haste without considering all your requirement and factors.

To protect your investment and also ensure that servicing and maintaining your unit in the future will not be a problem, buy only air conditioning systems that have approved R410A refrigerants. Refrigerants that contribute to the environment are replacing ozone-depleting R-22 and other HCFCs refrigerants.
Another factor to consider is to buy an AC unit based on the square footage of the area that needs to be cooled. Buying a unit that adequately cools a given area is really important and manufacturers provide options and the recommended coverage for a given model. An oversized unit is unnecessary as you will be paying more for a benefit you may not use and an undersized unit may be inadequate thus consuming more power for cooling, and increasing utility bills in the process. You need to measure the area that needs to be cooled before you shop. 

An energy efficient air conditioner that qualifies all of the above mentioned requirements will definitely save around 30% in energy costs compared to those units that don’t qualify those requirements. EER rating is also an important factor to consider as air conditioners that have been certified by the AHAM which stands for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers will carry an energy efficiency rating. The higher the EER rating, the less in energy consumption and operating costs. You can purchase an air conditioner with an EER rating of 10 or more for maximum efficiency, energy savings and lower electricity bills. 

From the models listed below, there are four major Air Conditioner types for you to choose from:
  • Window-mounted unit - This type of an AC is designed to be aptly fitted into window sills. The major advantage of a window AC is that it houses all the important and necessary components like the compressor, condenser, and expansion valve/coil all in one big box. It is highly cost effective, easy to maintain and takes less effort to install.
  • Wall-mounted unit – This type of AC is a little expensive than a window unit and can be installed on any part of your wall in your home or office. The advantage is that it can be fitted into the most convenient spot indoors without getting in the way of other appliances or furnishing items and merges well with the d├ęcor. It is also relatively easy to install for places with small areas and plays a huge role in saving space. Air flow can also be directed into all areas of the room with the absence of hot and cold spots. The unit functions quietly and reduces air flow resistance while providing a comfortable environment.
  • Portable air conditioners – This type of AC is more expensive than a window unit, but it is versatile and can be relocated into any room that needs cooling without much effort. Some units come with multiple functions like air purification, dehumidifying, heating and cooling. For some homes and offices, these units can be the perfect choice as they are really efficient and convenient.
  • Split ductless or mini air systems – This type of AC is more expensive than window or wall units, but is a great option for people who live in hot regions and need a powerful unit to cool a large indoor area. They are less intrusive than a full central unit, as the ductless function means that you don’t have to install a complex system of ducts and escape routes throughout your home or office. This system comprises of an indoor component that can be mounted on a wall and an outdoor component that can be installed next to your home. The real advantage of a ductless system is that the cooling power can be compared to a real central AC without having to renovate any of your walls or ceilings for installation.