One of the benefits of replacing an older AC unit is that newer models often offer eco-friendly operation. But this varies from unit to unit, so you have to know what to look for.
1. High Efficiency
Look for the Energy Star symbol to start, but be aware of the wide range of efficiency levels within the ranks of Energy Star certification. The minimum to qualify is a rating of 14 SEER. This gives you a great savings of both energy and operating costs if your current unit is only 10 SEER, for example.
However, you greatly increase energy savings when you choose a unit with a 16 SEER rating. Or you can go even higher, to 18 or 20 SEER. However, those tend to be at the highest end of the market, which makes them less likely to pay for themselves in energy savings over their expected lifespan.
New AC units manufactured in the USA, don’t use the older form of refrigerant (R-22) that you may have in your older model. R-22 is being phased out due to its environmental effects. This is good news for you; any unit you buy is more eco-friendly.
The newer coolant used in most new AC units is R-410A, which can’t be used in older units designed for R-22, because the two coolants function a bit differently. However, R-410A still hastens global warming, so consider looking for one of the newest products that use R-32 — a newer, even lower-impact coolant.
3. Smart Thermostat Compatibility
Older AC units often require electrical work to hook up to a smart thermostat, but many newer units come smart-thermostat-ready right out of the box.
A programmable thermostat saves energy by automatically cooling the house more when you’re going to be home and less when you’re away at work. But a smart thermostat also allows you to turn your AC on and off remotely from your phone. So if you’re on your way to work and realize you forgot to update your settings, you don’t have to head back home, you can update from your phone.
A smart thermostat tracks your AC usage. Look back at the data and decide if there’s anywhere you can shave off a few degrees. Or notice that your system seems to work harder than usual and schedule a maintenance visit so it can get back to its most efficient self.
4. Heat Pump
If you don’t already have a highly efficient form of heating for the winter, choose an AC unit that doubles as a heat pump to save you a lot of energy. While electric heaters can be around 100% efficient, a heat pump is so efficient it can cut your heating bills by half.
5. Quiet Operation
Noise pollution is a common problem with human habitations. It stresses animals out, makes them leave their natural habitats, and causes other behavioral problems. Loud AC units contribute to noise pollution and are therefore bad for the environment. Fortunately, many newer models make much less noise, which means they’re more wildlife-friendly.
These five factors are just a few of the ways in which modern-day AC units are becoming more and more eco-friendly. If you’re serious about living a more eco-friendly life, be sure to make use of passive cooling measures (such as shade, attic insulation, and cross-ventilation) to cut AC usage even more.
Service 1 Plumbing, Heating & A/C, Inc., helps you with your AC replacement and installation. Be sure to give us a call to discuss what you want in an AC unit.
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