Energy Efficiency in Katy, TX: The Experts Weigh In

What is the most energy efficient HVAC decision you can make for your home?

Air conditioning units use a great amount of energy… and your electricity bill proves it every month. Costs go up drastically during the summer months, and some homeowners report that their units run round the clock. For this reason, older units can be a worry.

Aggie Aire specializes in repairs of your A/C system. Sometimes a maintenance call can identify problems, such as low freon or replaceable parts. Other times, your unit may be beyond repair. But there are also circumstances when homeowners may find themselves “caught in the middle” — with a unit on its last legs. They have to decide if they want to gamble on their system lasting the brutal summer months. If so, their system will inevitably be working with less efficiency. Their house may be cooled… but at what cost?

System Replacement

Central air conditioners circulate cool air through a system of supply and return ducts, which, ideally, should be in top condition. When the decision is to replace a unit, energy efficiency is a foremost concern. After all, homeowners are making a large investment and expect the best return for their money.

Aggie Aire specializes in determining the type of unit that will cool a home with the least amount of cost. Whether you are in a one story or two story home, we consider your square footage, budget and desired interior temperature — along with your family’s needs. For instance, you may have a household full of youngsters who are constantly going in and out. You may use your patio for grilling or entertainment. There are many variables to consider that affect the overall efficiency of your home, and Aggie Aire can determine which brand will work best.

We recommend only the top brands, whether that involves a split-system unit or a packaged unit. This doesn’t mean you have to pay a fortune, because prices can vary between these recommended brands. We help you decide what works best for you:

  • Lennox
  • Car
  • Goodman
  • American Standard
  • Rheem
  • RUUD

Energy.Gov — Central Air Conditioning

The following advice comes from Energy.Gov, an agency that was implemented to “Ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”

Central air conditioners are more efficient than room air conditioners. In addition, they are out of the way, quiet, and convenient to operate. To save energy and money, you should try to buy an energy-efficient air conditioner and reduce your central air conditioner’s energy use. In an average air-conditioned home, air conditioning consumes more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, causing power plants to emit about 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide and 31 pounds of sulfur dioxide.

If you are considering adding central air conditioning to your home, the deciding factor may be the need for ductwork.

If you have an older central air conditioner, you might choose to replace the outdoor compressor with a modern, high-efficiency unit. If you do so, consult a local heating and cooling contractor to assure that the new compressor is properly matched to the indoor unit. However, considering recent changes in refrigerants and air conditioning designs, it might be wiser to replace the entire system.

Today’s best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid 1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.

Proper sizing and installation are key elements in determining air conditioner efficiency. Too large a unit will not adequately remove humidity. Too small a unit will not be able to attain a comfortable temperature on the hottest days. Improper unit location, lack of insulation, and improper duct installation can greatly diminish efficiency.

When buying an air conditioner, look for a model with a high efficiency. Central air conditioners are rated according to their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). SEER indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Many older systems have SEER ratings of 6 or less. The minimum SEER allowed today is 13. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label for central air conditioners with SEER ratings of 13 or greater, but consider using air conditioning equipment with higher SEER ratings for greater savings.

New residential central air conditioner standards went into effect on January 23, 2006. Air conditioners manufactured after January 26, 2006 must achieve a SEER of 13 or higher. SEER 13 is 30% more efficient than the previous minimum SEER of 10. The standard applies only to appliances manufactured after January 23, 2006. Equipment with a rating less than SEER 13 manufactured before this date may still be sold and installed.

The average homeowner will remain unaffected by this standard change for some time to come. The standards do not require you to change your existing central air conditioning units, and replacement parts and services should still be available for your home’s systems. The “lifespan” of a central air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years. Manufacturers typically continue to support existing equipment by making replacement parts available and honoring maintenance contracts after the new standard goes into effect.

Other features to look for when buying an air conditioner include:

  • A thermal expansion valve and a high-temperature rating (EER) greater than 11.6, for high-efficiency operation when the weather is at its hottest
  • A variable speed air handler for new ventilation systems
  • A unit that operates quietly
  • A fan-only switch, so you can use the unit for nighttime ventilation to substantially reduce air-conditioning costs
  • A filter check light to remind you to check the filter after a predetermined number of operating hours
  • An automatic-delay fan switch to turn off the fan a few minutes after the compressor turns off.

Installation and Location of Air Conditioners

If your air conditioner is installed correctly, or if major installation problems are found and fixed, it will perform efficiently for years with only minor routine maintenance. However, many air conditioners are not installed correctly. As an unfortunate result, modern energy-efficient air conditioners can perform almost as poorly as older inefficient models.

When installing a new central air conditioning system, be sure that your contractor:

  • Allows adequate indoor space for the installation, maintenance, and repair of the new system, and installs an access door in the furnace or duct to provide a way to clean the evaporator coil
  • Uses a duct-sizing methodology such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D
  • Ensures there are enough supply registers to deliver cool air and enough return air registers to carry warm house air back to the air conditioner
  • Installs duct work within the conditioned space, not in the attic, wherever possible
  • Seals all ducts with duct mastic and heavily insulates attic ducts
  • Locates the condensing unit where its noise will not keep you or your neighbors awake at night, if possible
  • Locates the condensing unit where no nearby objects will block airflow to it
  • Verifies that the newly installed air conditioner has the exact refrigerant charge and airflow rate specified by the manufacturer
  • Locates the thermostat away from heat sources, such as windows or supply registers.

If you are replacing an older or failed split system, be sure that the evaporator coil is replaced with a new one that exactly matches the condenser coil in the new condensing unit. (The air conditioner’s efficiency will likely not improve if the existing evaporator coil is left in place; in fact, the old coil could cause the new compressor to fail prematurely.)

Call us Today!

We are just a phone call away and will be glad to assess your air conditioning system for energy efficiency and cooling capabilities. Give us a call 281- 391-2665.