Does My Air Conditioning Efficiency Affect My Electric Bill?

Does My Air Conditioning Efficiency Affect My Electric Bill

When considering ways to reduce your electric costs, it is important to consider the efficiency of your air conditioning system, especially in a climate as hot as Houston. If you have an outdated central air conditioner, you may be overpaying in energy costs for subpar performance. Cooling costs are inevitably going to increase during the summer, however, it should not skyrocket. Look below to learn more information about how your ac unit affects your energy bill and remember that routine maintenance on your cooling system can help you to save money.

SEER: Measuring an air conditioner’s efficiency

An air conditioner’s efficiency is measured by it’s SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The Department of Energy defines SEER as the total cooling in BTU’s divided by the watts consumed. A higher SEER indicates a more energy efficient system.

Until 1979 the average central home air conditioning system had a SEER of 6.0. In the ’90’s a minimum standard of 10.0 was set. New, even higher standards, are being debated now.

As you might expect, an air conditioner with a higher SEER will cost more. The DOE estimates that a unit with a SEER of 13.0 will cost about 15% more than one with a SEER of 10.0. But that 13.0 unit will provide 30% more cooling per watt consumed.

Will a more efficient air conditioner save enough to pay for the cost of the new unit?

The DOE thinks that a more efficient unit will save enough to pay for the increased costs. They figure that operating the 13.0 SEER unit vs. a 10.0 SEER one will save $113 more than the additional cost to purchase it.

Not for Donna, but if you live in a warmer climate you might even want to consider a higher efficiency unit with an SEER of 15.0 or more. It will cost more, but could pay dividends in areas requiring heavy air conditioning usage.

Remember that SEER only measures the efficiency of the air conditioner. It doesn’t take into consideration how well your home is insulated, the condition of your ductwork or other factors that affect cooling.

Choosing the correct size air conditioner

Determining the correct size is a harder problem. Air conditioners are rated in Btu’s/hour or in ‘tons’. A ton is 12,000 Btu’s/hour. A bigger air conditioner is not necessarily a better air conditioner. If a unit is too big it will cost more to buy, more to operate and won’t do as good a job dehumidifying the air. According to The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), a national, non-profit public benefits corporation, a properly sized air conditioning system can reduce energy usage by up to 35%.

Determining the correct size isn’t easy. It’s not just a matter of calculating the volume of air that you need to cool. The climate, style of your home, number of windows, amount of insulation, weather stripping and shade as well as other variables all effect the size of the unit needed. It’s hard to do the calculation yourself. You really need a professional. In fact, the industry has created a formula that considers all the variables.

The easiest way to get an idea of the correct size is to get three bids on a new system. Not only will that allow you to compare prices, it will also give you three estimates of how big a system is required.

Affordable Air Conditioning Company in Houston, TX

Autumn Mechanical — formerly Autumn Air delivers a single-point resource for mechanical contracting and service. Based in Spring, TX, Autumn Mechanical specializes in HVAC, plumbing, and refrigeration services. Serving customers in Houston, Dallas, and surrounding areas, our professional technicians serve with expertise and integrity.

With over 30 years of experience in the air conditioning and heating business, the team at Autumn Mechanical has built a trusted reputation throughout the communities of Houston. Our air conditioning services include but are not limited to, residential/commercial AC and heating, repair, service, installation, maintenance, and heat pump equipment repair.


Autumn Mechanical
18812 Tomato St.
Spring, TX 77379
(713) 864-8368
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