A new, energy-efficient central air conditioner can help you save money off monthly utility bills. In fact, a new air conditioner uses about 30 percent to 50 percent less energy than models manufactured in the mid 1970s and 20 percent to 40 percent less energy than models manufactured just 10 years ago.
If you’re considering buying a new central air conditioner, it’s important to understand how one should be properly installed. After all, a new, energy-efficient central air conditioner isn’t cheap, and when it comes to the performance, lifespan and energy efficiency of your air conditioner, quality installation is just as important as the actual air conditioner itself. In fact, a brand new, energy-efficient air conditioner that’s improperly installed can perform as poorly as the old model you’re looking to replace.
When you’re having a new air conditioner installed, make sure your contractor performs the following procedures:
- Locates the outdoor condensing unit where the noise will not keep you or neighbors awake at night, where the unit will be free of obstructions that might block air flow to it and where it will be in shade, if possible. A shaded condensing unit can save you 1 percent to 2 percent off cooling costs.
- Makes sure there are enough supply and return air registers to deliver cooled air throughout the house and return the warmed air back to the air conditioner.
- Allows enough indoor space for installation, maintenance and repair of all system components.
- Makes sure an access door is installed in the furnace or duct so that the evaporator coil can be cleaned.
- Sizes air ducts properly using industry-standard methodology such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D.
- Installs air ducts within the air conditioned space and not in a hot attic whenever possible.
- Ensures that all ducts are sealed with duct mastic and, in the case of attic ducts, heavily insulated.
- Locates the thermostat away from sources of heat.
- Primes the air conditioner with the precise refrigerant charge and sets the exact air flow rate as specified by the air conditioner manufacturer.
Ensuring that these installation procedures are followed is an important part of getting the most comfort and energy-efficiency from your new central air conditioner. If the procedures are followed properly, you can expect from 15 to 20 years of quality, low-maintenance operation from you new air conditioner.
U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Savers website, “Central Air Conditioners.”