Energy Star Central Air Conditioner Home Systems

Central air conditioning - traditionally, it's been a phrase many homeowners have always been wary of. Not only does central air come attached with a substantial initial investment, the ongoing costs of cooling a home with such a system are often prohibitive to those already facing large utility bills. Many people in warmer climates are even willing to live without it, substituting window-mounted units and ceiling or ventilating fans in place of an air treatment system. And in some of these cases, the energy draw from all these extra appliances, usually of lesser efficiency, can outweigh the electricity savings by themselves.

Central Air Conditioners by Energy Star

The good news is that central air conditioning technology has been getting a LOT better. The EPA and Energy Star program have worked with manufacturers to keep new units to strict energy efficiency guidelines. Combined with stronger and lighter materials, the result has been higher-quality, longer-lasting models with condensers running at much lower decibel ratings than ever before. Typical systems of today use as much as 3x less energy than those of twenty years ago, and are also much smaller. Energy Star rated central air conditioners are required to be at least 14% more efficient than similar models of the same type.

Energy Saving Tips - Air Conditioners Rated by Energy Star The annual energy costs for Americans to run air conditioning systems amounts to almost 12 BILLION dollars a year!

Additionally, central air units can be compared against each other by their Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). This information, sometimes found on the Department of Energy's yellow Energy Guide label, can give a good indication of the energy draw of a particular unit. The higher the SEER rating, the better the energy efficiency for that system will be. Keep in mind though, that performance is not taken into consideration here. Lower end units from lesser known brands may require more run time to keep the same temperature as more quality central air systems, leading to more overall energy draw. This should be taken into consideration as well, when shopping around for a home central air system.

Once more, correctly sizing the unit to your home or building should be the primary consideration when purchasing a central air conditioner. Aside from cooling the treated air with a refrigerant, central AC lowers the relative humidity of the inside air to between 40% and 60%. This creates a comfortable environment without leading to the damp or clammy conditions created by an oversized air conditining system. Undersizing the system would be equally bad, as it would take longer to reach the desired temperature and humidity levels causing the compressor to be constantly running.

Knowing this, the wisest choice is to consult a home HVAC engineer or contractor to determine the exact size central air conditioning system for your home. This will be based upon a heat gain calculator using the expression BTU/hr (British Thermal Units per hour). Depending upon your situation, he or she may suggest a package system or more likely a split system. A package AC system groups the fan, coil, and condenser into one unit connected directly to the ductwork. This type of system will both cool and blow the air into your ducts directly. More popular though, the split system places the condenser on the outside of your home, leaving the fan and coil inside connected to them by copper tubing or insulated pipes carrying the refrigerant. This places the heated air produced by the condenser already outside your home, as well as any noise caused by a rather large fan kicking on and off all day long.

Energy Savings Through Tight Ductwork and Building Envelope

The same ducts that carry warm air throughout your home in winter can be used to carry cool air during the summer months. This makes it doubly important that your ducts are tightly sealed at the registers and vent exhausts, and that all ductwork joints are inspected for holes or leaks. For the cost of some mastic sealant or a roll of metal sealing tape, you can save hundreds of dollars in home heating and cooling utility costs through treated air lost into attics, crawlspaces, and in the area between your walls. Ensuring a tight building envelope is just as important, and doing this will reduce run time, maintenance, and wear & tear on your central air conditioning system as well as your home boiler or Energy Star rated furnace.

Programmable Thermostats and Central Air Conditioning Systems

One huge advantage to using a single central air system over several smaller room air conditioners or portable models is the fact they can be connected to a programmable thermostat. Running your air conditioner while at work or not home can lead to extra utility costs and an unnecessary negative impact upon the environment in the form of greenhouse gas and heat emissions. New modern thermostats can be set to achieve both temperature and humidity levels, and can be programmed to turn on and off or bring your home to different temperatures at set hours of the day or night. They can keep track of different zones of the house, and you can set them to bring rooms back to your desired state during your commute home, meaning the house will be exactly as you want it by the time you pull in the driveway.

Energy Star Central Air Conditioning Manufacturers

In 1992, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Energy Star program to promote green building methods and overall energy conservation. In cooperation with the Department of Energy's (DOE) yellow Energy Guide labelling of major modern appliances, consumers have been more educated than ever before as to exactly the type of products they are putting into their homes, and how much power consumption to expect.

Because central air conditioning is usually purchased through a builder or contractor, homeowners may not have the advantage of being able to compare yellow labels or look for the Energy Star logo. Their research should therefore be done online, or through calling manufacturers directly to get these figures. Do your homework first, and then don't be afraid to ask your contractor directly about the type of system going into your home.

Below is a list of major manufacturers who have produced Energy Star qualified central air conditioning units and systems. Use it as a rough guide to finding out which systems and brands will fit the needs of your building or residence.

AAON Coil Products, Inc.
Aerosys Inc.
American Standard
Armstrong Air Conditioning
Carrier Corporation
Cool Air International
Daikin AC Americas Inc.
Fujitsu General America
Goodman Manufacturing Co.
Hallowell International
Indoor Comfort Air
International Comfort
Lennox Industries
McGrady-Perdue Inc.
Mitsubishi Electronics
NORDYNE
One Hour Air Conditioning
Rheem-Ruud Manufacturing
Sanyo Commerical
Traffic Rider
Trane
Whirlpool Corp.
York International Group


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