The efficiency of air conditioning units is measured by the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating which rates energy use for different types and brands of equipment. SEER ratings are a lot like vehicle miles per gallon efficiency ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit-and the more money saved in energy costs. The majority of systems installed before 1992 are rated at 10 SEER or below and continue to drop in efficiency with age.

The chart below shows the possible energy savings as compared to an 8 SEER system. When all of the components of your heating and cooling system are properly combined in what is called a “matched system,” they work seamlessly together to deliver maximum performance at a minimal cost.

Energy Efficiency Chart

To deliver maximum energy efficiency, air conditioning equipment requires professional installation.

The North Carolina Alternative Energy Corporation, a non-profit organization, examined air conditioning manufacturers’ efficiencies versus the actual efficiencies that resulted after installation and found that 90% of newly installed units exhibited some sort of energy-wasting, comfort-robbing problem.

Other significant air conditioning industry comfort and energy related surveys also revealed the following installation problems:

Duct Leakage (93%)

  • Poor indoor air quality
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Drafts and uneven temperature
  • May double air conditioning portion of the energy bill

Unit Oversizing (47%)

  • Doesn’t run enough to wring out moisture
  • Air in sunlit & shaded rooms does not mix
  • Equipment typically noisier
  • Shorter equipment life

Incorrect Refrigerant Charge (54%)

  • Increased failure rate
  • Reduced moisture removal
  • Equipment typically noisier
  • Uneven temperature
  • Could add as much as 17% to operating costs

Incorrect Air Flow (70%)

  • Uneven temperatures
  • Poor moisture control
  • Noisy grilles and registers
  • Could add as much as 10% to operating costs

Source: Texas A&M University, Louisiana State University & Gulf States Utility, Lakeland Electric & Water, Pacific Gas & Electric, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.


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