Constantly grudging about your skyrocketing energy bill? Yes, you’ve tried off-peak use, green power, proactive energy-saving methods; you know, all the works needed just to drive your energy cost down before it drives you super-crazy. But when the power bill gets delivered, it’s the same mind-boggling monster of a cost that you wanted to slay so badly. Well, just this time, save the rancor against energy producers. Or the government. And maybe the greed-ridden conspiracies as well. You can pick up where you left off anytime, anyway.High-Efficiency AC BrandsWant to get the right grip on this whole high-energy bill affair? You can do one simple thing: bark at the right tree—blame your clunky, old air conditioner. You might not have noticed, but if you own an 8-, 10-,15, or even 20-year old air-conditioner, then that’s your biggest culprit right there. Not even those phantom energy-hogs. What to do? Chop-chop. Get rid of that energy-hog right away. Keep this in mind: When it comes to air conditioning systems, energy-efficiency is king. So, when you’re looking for a new air conditioner, the smartest choice is going for the most energy-efficient unit.
Energy Efficiency and Ductless Air Conditioners, Your Best Options
High Energy-efficiency Air Conditioners?
When it comes to heating and cooling systems, energy-efficiency should be major factor in your purchasing decision. When we are talking about energy-efficiency, we are referring to the capability of your comfort system to cool or heat your home by using the least amount of energy. Like majority of the households in the United States, your cooling and heating solutions account for much of your energy consumption at home. The Energy Department reveals that 6% of the average home’s energy consumption are spent in space cooling while 45% of the energy bills in the average household is spent in space heating. In other words, how much energy your unit consumes has a significant impact on your power bill. So, it helps to consider energy-efficiency when you’re looking for a new heating and cooling system. There is an excellent way to find out the energy-efficiency of a cooling and heating system. For cooling solutions, the best way to compare the energy-efficiency of your options is by looking at the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio/Rating (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio/Rating (EER). For heating solutions, the best way to determine the energy-efficiency of a particular models is by checking the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). SEER, EER, and HSPF are just three of the main ratings that are used to calculate, measure, and determine the energy-efficiency of a cooling and heating system. Knowing these ratings on your next AC purchase will help you save money both in the long-term and short-term.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio/Rating (SEER)
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. It tells you how energy-efficient a particular air conditioner is. With SEER, you are able to get an idea how efficiently your air conditioner consumes power while used to cool your room. In formula, it is the cooling output (expressed in British thermal units or Btu) of a unit in a given period or season divided into your total energy usage in watt hours that was consumed in the same period or season. The quotient is the efficiency rating of your unit. In figure, the formula looks like this:
Basically, SEER is determined based on the performance of a unit in relation to the amount of energy that it consumes in a given period. This period usually covers the whole season when the air conditioner is constantly used, like Summer, for instance. SEER is usually expressed in numbers. The higher the SEER number of a unit, the more it is energy-efficient. One other way to put it is, the higher the SEER number means the lower it requires energy to cool a space in a given cooling period. Thus, a high-SEER model is considered more energy-saving and cost-effective. Normally, you can find the SEER rating of an air conditioner printed in a yellow sticker that is attached on the side of the unit. This sticker is customarily written with a title “Energy Guide” in bold and large font. One thing that you should remember is that all air conditioners have a designated SEER. So, when you're out looking for a new cooling system, looking at SEER is one of the best ways to compare your different options. It will help you find the right unit that you need, especially when you're decided to pick one that can drastically slash your home's energy consumption. The setting of energy-efficiency standards is governed by the United States law. For this reason, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) sets the HVAC efficiency standards, both for residential and commercial equipment. Currently, the hot-humid Southeast region and the hot-dry Southwest region are set with 14 SEER, while areas in the North or outside the southern states remain set with 13 SEER, which is previous minimum standard for air conditioners until the DOE implemented the new standards in 2015. The reason for the ratings variation, of course, is obvious: climate differences among regions. This pertains to the fact that households in the in the warmer Southern states would naturally use the air conditioner more often than in the North. It must be noted that the update from previous standard, which was 13 SEER, to the new standard, which is 14 SEER, ensures a 10% increase in energy efficiency. Take note that the minimum SEER standard is not fixed. It gets updated. In fact, in 2023, it is expected that a new SEER standard would take effect DOE gives the nod on the agreement crafted by a DOE-formed working group approved by the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) for recommendations on an updated energy efficiency standard. Based on this new standard, the units under 45,000 Btu/hr will have a 14 SEER in the North region and 15 SEER in the South region. For units that go beyond 45,000 Btu/hr, the 14 SEER in the North remains but in the South, it would be 14.5 SEER. In view of the minimum SEER standards, what you should remember when buying a new unit is that, although you would be safe with the minimum rating, it is still best to get a unit with a SEER rating that is higher than the standard. Anything above 14 SEER is better, but never go below the standard SEER rating. This doesn’t mean, however, that getting a unit with the highest SEER is the most ideal option. High-SEER models are more expensive than units with a lower SEER. When it’s time for you to buy a new air conditioner, the best option is to choose a unit with SEER that is not only above standard, but it must be a system that matches your specific need and budget. Today, the typically energy-efficient air conditioners have SEER ratings that range from 16-26 SEER. But for the most energy-efficient units that are built with better technology like ductless mini split systems, it is not unusual to find models with 30-35 SEER, and even higher.
Energy Efficiency Ratio/Rating (EER)
EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio or Energy Efficiency Rating. It gives you an idea how much cooling capacity a particular air conditioner provides from a specific amount of energy used. Whereas SEER provides an insight about the energy efficiency of a unit over a particular season like Summer, EER is constant. This means that EER helps you determine the efficiency of a system using the values of a constant outdoor temperature of 95 degrees. In other words, an EER will help you know how efficient an air conditioner works while running when an outside temperature is at 95 degrees. You can get the EER of an air conditioner by dividing the cooling output of an air conditioning unit (expressed in British thermal units or Btu) with its energy usage in watt hours. To put simply, it’s the air conditioner’s Btu rating over its wattage. In formula, it can be expressed as follows:
Now, let’s try to calculate using an example. Let’s say you have an air conditioner with a cooling capacity of 12,000 Btu. In terms of energy usage, let’s say that it consumes 1,200 watts of electricity. Using the formula, we’ll have to divide the cooling output, which is 12,000 Btu by energy usage that amounts to 1,200 watts. In figure, this could be expressed as:
After the calculation, we are able to easily determine that the system has an EER of 10. Every air conditioner is also assigned with a specific EER. And just like SEER, it is expressed in values or number as well. The higher the EER of an air conditioner, the more it is considered as energy-efficient. Again, like SEER, the EER of an air conditioner can also be found written in the Energy Guide sticker in any unit.
Heat Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)
HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. It is used to measure the energy-efficiency of a system (typically, a heat pump) for the whole heating season. Consider HSPF as the equivalent of SEER which is used to measure the energy-efficiency of a cooling system during the whole specific season. To calculate HSPF, the estimated seasonal heating output of a particular system (expressed in BTU) is divided by its energy usage which is expressed in watt-hours. In formula, it looks like the following:
Currently, the minimum efficiency standard for heat pumps is 8.2. Just like SEER and EER, the higher the HSPF, the more a heat pump is considered energy-efficient. To give you a better idea on how a high HSPF helps lower your energy consumption and reduce your energy bill in the process, let’s use an example. Now, let’s say your current heat pump system at home has an HSPF of 8.2 with a rated capacity of 36,600 Btu/hr. When calculated, this system consumes a total of 4463 W. If you decide to replace this system with a newer heat pump system that boasts of an 11.0 HSPF but has the same rated capacity of 36,600 Btu/hr, for example, you would end up with an energy usage that amounts to 3327 W. In the process, this provides you an energy savings of 25.45%.
Why Does SEER Matter to You?
Not a lot of people are aware of SEER and its benefits, and therefore many lose an opportunity to gain substantial savings in their cooling and heating systems at home. Most just simply purchase what they thought best. Some even go for bigger systems, when in fact, bigger doesn’t always mean better. If you are planning to upgrade or replace your old air conditioner, it helps to know what to look for. Understanding SEER will help you compare the efficiencies of the different air conditioners during your purchase. With you being aware what SEER means and how it can drastically reduce your energy consumption makes you an informed buyer and enables you to have a chance to take advantage of the efficiencies of a high SEER-rated unit. Make it a point to look for SEER when you start choosing your next air-conditioner. Compare the different models’ SEER ratings. While you wouldn’t go wrong picking the one with the highest SEER, another safe route is to pick what suits your cooling needs and budget.
Benefits of High SEER-rated Air-conditioners?
High SEER-rated air conditioners can give you the following benefits: • Substantial money savings. Low energy consumption means lower utility bills. Just imagine how much energy-savings you will get from a high SEER-rated unit after long use compared to units that require more energy usage. If you add up the numbers in an actual amount, it would be staggering. • Enhanced comfort experience. High SEER-rated systems not only run efficiently but are also designed with extra features that are more advanced than others, like in the filtering system, humidity removal capability, etc. • Lower to almost zero maintenance and repair expenses. Highly efficient units are more stable operationally, and therefore, not too prone to breakdowns which often entail costly repairs. • Lesser impact to the environment. Generally, air-conditioners emit greenhouse gases that are harmful to the ozone layer. With high SEER-rated models, you lower the level of the greenhouse gases that your home releases to the environment.
Examples of Highly Energy-efficient Systems?
With the advancement in HVAC technology and stringent implementation of energy-efficiency requirements, most air conditioners today have SEER, EER, and HSPF ratings that are above standard. Nonetheless, not all air conditioners are equal. Some cooling and heating solutions are more energy-efficient than others. When it comes to the type of system, ductless mini split units are typically more energy-efficient than others solutions. As an example, Gree, Mitsubishi, LG, and Panasonic are among the most energy-efficient cooling and heating solutions that are available in the market today. To give you an idea, here are some of the models from these two brands that exhibit excellent level of energy-efficiencies:
Gree Ductless Mini Split Systems
Gree has some of the most energy-efficient ductless systems today. Its product lines are all Energy Star-rated and boast of exceptional SEER rating of up to 30.5. Each of these models are also super-efficient, and powered by the energy-saving G10 inverter technology, these systems can reduce up to 65% of your heating and cooling energy consumption, while giving you the highest level of performance and temperature comfort. For example, when it comes to SEER, the newest Gree mini split model Sapphire rules with up to 41 SEER. Coming in close second is Gree Crown, which is available with high energy-efficiency units that range up to 30.5 SEER and capable of 90% heating capacity even if the outdoor temperature drops to -22° F. Gree Livo, meanwhile is designed with an energy efficiency of up to 16 SEER, 10.55 EER, 9.0 HSPF, and 3.5 COP. It is also capable of providing 20% more savings in energy use year in year compared to a fixed speed air conditioner or any traditional system. Livo also has a cooling capacity that range from 0 to 115°F, and a heating capacity that range from -4 to 75°F. During extreme outdoor weather condition, it will maintain the set temperature within ±0.5°C. Even in the coldest days of Winter, it is capable of maintaining a temperature of 8°C at a minimum for your home. The Livo unit can also stably run even in less than 1W of electricity. Gree Neo, on the other hand, is available up to 22 SEER and capable of reducing your energy loss by enabling you to only use what you need, when you need it, and where you need it. With Gree Rio, you have a system built with an excellent efficiency rating of up to 16 SEER on top of its highly advanced and energy-saving features. As for Gree Terra, it is the highest-efficiency model in the Gree family and available with high 27 SEER rating and capable of helping you cut your energy use by as much as 65%. Gree Vireo, on the other hand, is a powerful heat pump system that boasts of 23 SEER. As a system, it will only cost you 1/3 of the electricity that you would normally use if you’re using an electric heater. Unlike other systems, it can also heat your room even when the outside temperature is at subfreezing point of -4°F and can cool the place even when the outdoor climate reaches 115°F—all at an efficient use of energy. Gree also offers U-Match Series, an innovative line of commercial climate control solutions that consists of three powerful, highly efficient indoor units: Ceiling Cassette, Slim Duct, and the Universal Floor/Ceiling units.
Mitsubishi Electric Zoned Comfort Solution™
A series of highly-efficient and high-performance single-zone and multi-zone cooling and heating mini split products, these units are up to 40% more efficient than traditional systems. Mainly, this high-efficiency is driven by three significant technologies: the energy-saving inverter-driven compressor that can drastically cut your energy-use, the Hyper-Heating INVERTER (H2i) ® technology that enables you to stay comfortably warm even when the outside temperature drops to -13° F, and the hot-start technology that is responsible for quick heating and elimination of drafts.
LG’s Mini Split Solutions
Consisting of high-efficiency models, LG’s line of ductless solutions is proven as a set of energy-efficient systems that are equipped with some of the best energy-saving capabilities. These units are all Energy Star-certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, at least hundreds of LGs solutions gained the ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient designation.
Panasonic Total Home Comfort
These pertain to a series of high-efficiency mini split cooling and heating units and ventilation fans that collectively work as a single, ductless comfort system. Not to be outdone, these systems are certified as 100% energy-efficient and provides an assurance of high energy-efficiency compliance (ASHRAE 62.2, LEED and Energy Star 3.0.). In fact, for its single-zone solutions alone, Panasonic boasts of systems that have rated capacities of up to 24,000 Btu/h and a maximum SEER of 31.
Why Choosing High Energy-efficiency Ratings is Beneficial
If you’re looking at initial costs, highly energy-efficient air conditioners are more expensive. It must be understood, however, that high energy-efficiency comes at a high price for a reason—they are better at giving you energy-savings in the long-term by using lesser amount of energy than average air conditioners. In other words, highly energy-efficient units can actually pay for themselves. And how will this happen? With energy-efficient system, your accumulated energy-savings due to low energy-usage, which are translated to lower monthly power bill, will be enough to cover the exact amount that you paid for the unit. Specifically, using a highly energy-efficient cooling and heating system will give you the following benefits: • Low your energy consumption • Significantly reduce your electricity bill. • Give your more money-savings. • Provide you with enhanced cooling and heating comfort • Lower your carbon footprint With all these aforementioned benefits, there’s no doubt that high energy-efficiency air conditioners have the capability to significantly upgrade your HVAC system at home. According to the Department of Energy, by simply using a highly energy-efficient system, you can drastically reduce your home’s energy usage by at least 20-50 percent. Let’s try to look at a sample scenario. If you are like the typical household that probably uses more-than-a-decade-old air conditioner, then what you have at home is a system that must have an original SEER rating of 10. Due to wear and tear, there is high possibility that this system already shows signs of depreciated efficiency. This means, that instead of operating at a level of a system with a 10 SEER, it is now working at a level of a system with a SEER rating of 8. So, what does this imply? Essentially, it is consuming more energy than necessary, and the reality is, you are basically spending money on it today than you were a few years ago when it’s still new. When this is the case, your only best option is to upgrade to a high energy-efficient unit. It would not only significantly reduce your energy bills, but also give a better cooling or heating performance.