Little known Air Conditioning FACTS

Mortgage and Lending with Platinum Real Estate Associates of RE/MAX Southern Realty

I did a little research on Gulf Power's website because my energy bill was OUTRAGEOUS this month! Here are some simple ways to save money and still have that perfectly comfortable temperature inside your home. Here's what I learned:


Q. What is the most efficient thermostat setting for air conditioning?

A. The best setting is the highest temperature at which you are comfortable. The cost of operating your air conditioner increases significantly with each degree the thermostat is lowered. Most people can be comfortable at settings between 75 - 78oF.



Q. What does the term "tons" mean in the context of air conditioning?

A. A ton is a measure of the size or cooling capacity of an air conditioner. One ton is equivalent to removing 12,000 BTUs of heat per hour. For example, a three ton air conditioner can remove 36,000 BTUs per hour.



Q. When I replace my central air conditioner, would it be more efficient to get a larger unit? Will it make the house more comfortable?

A. It is best to get a properly sized unit. Although a larger unit may run for shorter periods of time, it will use more electricity due to its larger size. It may also fail to properly dehumidify the home. A properly sized unit will control both temperature and humidity, making the home more comfortable.



Q. What does the "EER" or "SEER" rating on an air conditioner mean?

A. Both EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) and SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) are indicators of how efficient the unit is. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit and the lower the operating cost. SEER is used with central air conditioners, while EER is used with room air conditioners. For new central systems, SEERs of 13 or higher are generally considered high-efficiency units. For room units, EERs of 11 or higher are considered high-efficiency.



Q. What is the recommended SEER rating for a central air conditioner?

A. The current minimum requirement is 13 SEER. This is significantly more efficient than older units. Ratings of 13 to 15 are common, and will have lower operating costs, and units with SEERs as high as 18 are available. The more you use your central air conditioning, the more you will benefit from higher SEER ratings, and the more likely that the additional cost will be offset by energy savings.



Q. I have one room in my home that is always too hot in the summer - what can I do to make that room more comfortable?

A. If the room has a large area of exposed glass, keep curtains or blinds closed during daylight hours, particularly at times when the sun would shine directly in. You might also ask your air conditioning contractor to check whether you are getting enough air in that room - there may be a problem with your duct system.



Q. I have my air conditioning system checked every year, and it always seems to need "recharging" with refrigerant - is this normal?

A. Refrigerant does not shrink or disappear - a need for regular recharging indicates a refrigerant leak. The solution is to fix the leak, not to keep recharging the system.



Q. Will ceiling fans help cool my home in summer, and should I run them constantly, even when my air conditioning is running?

A. Ceiling fans can help make the home more comfortable, either alone or in combination with your air conditioner, by creating more air movement, which makes the air feel cooler. But remember that they do not actually cool the air, so there is no point in running them in unoccupied rooms or when no one is at home.



Q. Should I remove window air conditioners in the winter?

A. Window air conditioners should either be removed or sealed in winter to prevent cold air from entering the home and warm air escaping. Insulated covers are available which can be effective in reducing this air leakage if it is not feasible to remove the units. Sealing the inside and outside of the units with plastic sheeting can also be effective.



Q. What is a "whole house fan" and is it a good option for cooling my home?

A. A whole house fan is a large ventilating fan, typically mounted in a ceiling between the living space and attic. The fan draws air out of the living space and exhausts it to the attic, and then out through the attic vents. For the most effective ventilation, a window or windows in the lower part of the house should be partially opened, to bring cooler air into the home. These fans can be an effective supplement to air conditioning, but unlike an air conditioning system, they do nothing to reduce indoor humidity