Here on Long Island, the summer months can get hot... really hot! In fact, where air conditioning in the home was once seen as a luxury it is now a necessity during the balmy days of summer. Beyond your summer comfort, your air conditioning system can play a significant role in the energy efficiency of your house. Although it may only be used for 2 to 3 months each year, an air conditioning system that is not energy efficient can have you paying higher energy bills than is necessary.
Wall and Window Mounted Air Conditioners
For wall or window mounted air conditioners, replacing inefficient units with Energy Star-rated models is often the easiest route to greater efficiency. For permanent wall-mounted installations, ensuring that insulation around the install location is ideal and then covering the units in winter months will often be enough. With window mounted units the process is even easier as they are often only in place during the months of normal use.
Central Air Conditioning
Making central air-conditioning units more energy efficient is a whole other situation. For older units, replacing the system offers a number of benefits beyond energy efficiency such as:
- Easier maintenance as older, more expensive refrigerants have been phased out.
- They are designed with an eye towards not only cooling the home but doing so in an environmentally friendlier way.
- Higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) which equates to a more efficient unit that requires less energy to run at peak output.
- Properly sizing the system – Believe it or not, many of our AC systems are too big, especially if our home is properly insulated. Systems that are too big don't run long enough to dehumidify the air. When you replace the system and upgrade the insulation in your attic, it's an ideal time to right size the system.
- But when your central AC is not a candidate for replacement, there are still steps that can be taken to make the unit more efficient. As with your heating system, ensuring that the ductwork is working properly – that all gaps are sealed and that the ductwork is insulated – is vital to achieving a higher SEER. Also ensuring that your attic and crawlspaces, where your AC ductwork is located are properly insulated and gaps where ceilings, roofs and walls meet will also help to decrease the load on your central AC improving the the overall efficiency of your home.
PSEG Cool Homes Program
While the minimum New York State Energy Code SEER rating is 13 for existing houses and 14.5 SEER for most new houses, PSEG prefers a rating of 16 or up and we agree. To that end, PSEG's Cool Homes program offers incentives to upgrading your central AC to achieve a SEER of 16 or better. As part of Green Audit USA's Home Energy Audits, which are fully funded by New York State for every homeowner, we will inspect the central AC ductwork in your attic and seal any gaps we find. When you are presented with the final report, our auditors will detail other improvements and upgrades you can make to your Central AC to achieve a higher SEER and lower energy bills.
Mini-Split AC Systems
Traditional Central AC requires a place to put an air handler and running duct work. For some houses that's no easy task. Many times a Mini-Split AC system will solve that issue. A mini split system will have a wall mounted "head" unit in each room that has AC, but no duct work. It works really well for Cape style homes and those with limited space to run duct work.
If it is recommended that you replace your Central AC with a more energy efficient model, there is financing available to replace the unit. This same financing is also available for homeowner who wish to move away from using multiple wall and window mounted units and install an energy efficient central AC or Mini-split system. We would be happy to provide you with any information necessary so that you can make an informed decision.
Contact us today for more information on our air conditioning services or to schedule a home assessment!
We used Green Audit USA, Inc. for the New York Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program. They were truly professional. They were extensively informative. They answered any questions that I had during the process. They were remarkably good at cleaning up.