AC Units, What the Big Deal?
Let’s begin with the facts; mainly that heating and cooling can account for more than half of your average home’s utility bill every month. When comparing new and old AC units it completely boils down to the level of efficiency. Newer AC units offer more efficient cooling technology which can transfer to more money in your pocket at the end of every month. The only downside to pulling the trigger on an updated and more efficient AC unit is the upfront cost.
As a guideline, FPL suggests replacing your AC unit after it’s ten year anniversary due to the lapse in technology and the surplus of savings that could be had if changed out for a new one. Let’s be honest, an AC unit that is a decade old just isn’t performing anywhere near the efficiency of newer units. Energy standards have tightened over time so any new units will be drastically more energy efficient.
The current method of rating efficiency in these units is the SEER, or the seasonal energy efficiency ratio. Old units typically have a SEER of around 6 or 7 and newer units, as of 2006, must meet a minimum rating of 13. SEER 13 units are 30% more efficient than the previous SEER 10 rated units.
Savings Realized from Upgrading the AC Unit in Your Home
The savings of newer AC units are dependent on many factors including associated system ducting, age of thermostats, poor insulation, etc. The typical use of AC units between 5,000 and 12,000 BTUH is approximately 900 to 1,500 watts which translates to approximately $9.10 -$17.50 per month (Glendale Water and Power). This figure calculates out to approximately $109 – 210 per year. This is a conservative estimate and cannot apply to every household but it can be used a base upon which to compare older units.
There a numerous energy savings calculators available online which can give you a good idea of the savings you can achieve from upgrading your AC unit. Another estimate with one such calculator has shown a cooling savings of roughly 33% per year based on the US national average (Lennox). This translates to a 5-year savings of $540, a 10-year savings of $1,080 and a 15-year savings of $1,620 (Lennox).
These stats apply to the typical switch from a SEER 10 AC unit to a SEER 15 rated AC unit which is a typical upgrade in SEER rating that can be achieved from an upgrade today. Even something as simple as replacing an older AC unit with a newer used unit that jumps in SEER rating from just 10 to 13 realizes a 23% increase in savings per year, or roughly $75.
The Next Step
Now that you have all the ammo you need to pull the trigger on an updated and/or energy star rated AC unit, you should brush up on a few more money saving tips. It is obvious that the time of year correlates with the amount spent on energy bills. This being the case, you can cut the cost curve when the summer months approach by making a few basic tweaks. Dialing up the temperature even a degree or two when you use while you use your AC unit can make a large enough monetary change for you to notice it on your next utility bill. Each degree below 78°F increases your energy consumption by roughly 3-4%. That is quite the spike for a degree or two of perceived comfort.
Now that you are armed with a little more knowledge on modern AC units and the savings that can be achieved, get out and do your own research on the how to further decrease your utility bill.
David Holly is a freelance article writer who lives in Orlando, Florida. If you are looking to replce your old AC unit, he highly recommends the services of FacemyerAC.com.