Thursday, May 11, 2006

Time to Crank Up Your AC

It's not really time to turn on your AC yet, but maybe in another month . . . When you do, you might want to check your SEER rating. Back in January '06 the U.S. Department of Energy changed the requirements for manufacturers of air conditioners and heat pumps to produce equipment that has a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating of at least 13.

SEER is the number used by DOE to measure the efficiencyof the equipment. SEER is to air conditioning what the R factor is to insulation. The higher the number, the more energy efficient the product.

Previously the minimum SEER number was 10, but the U.S. government wants us to use less fuel to cool our homes. The nearly 1/3rd increase in the minimum standard is projected to reduce energy bills for homeowners by up to 30 percent.

If you have an older unit with less than a 12 SEER rating, no one will make you replace it. It may, however, become harder to buy replacement parts if your unit needs repairs. If you find our summers to be too humid for you, you run your air conditioning constantly, and also plan to be in your home for a while, you may want to buy a new AC now. The higher the SEER rating the better. It will also be more costly as the SEER rating goes up, but you'll be money ahead in the long run. And you'll be preserving our precious natural resources! The new products are also quieter, and they use an environmentally sound refrigerant.

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