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When you look at your energy consumption at the end of the month, do you wonder why your neighbors use so much less than you do? It’s unlikely that their homes are as hot as a sauna or that they sit in the dark all night long to conserve electricity. The truth is, they probably have a more energy efficient air conditioner than you do.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, only half of your electricity bill involves your lights, appliances, and electronics, and on average in Florida, 27 percent of the bill is cooling costs!

How much you spend month to month depends on how efficient your air conditioner runs.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy tells us that if your AC unit is 10 years old or more, a modern energy efficient unit could reduce your cooling costs by 20 to 40 percent.

Energy efficient Air Conditioner? Decoding the SEER Rating

If you want to know whether your cooling system is energy efficient or not, the first place you should check is your central air conditioning unit outside. There you will find a little yellow sticker with the words “Energy Guide” on it. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER will be displayed on this label for you.

But what does it mean?

If you aren’t an engineer or heating and cooling professional, SEER can be confusing. There is also a lot of misinformation out there that will only guide you away from the truth.

Originally, there was only an EER or Energy Efficiency Rating, but they added an S to include Seasons. So the manufacturers test these cooling units to make sure that when they are cycling on and off in various weather patterns that they are performing at a certain level of efficiency. 

The more efficient they are at balancing performance while consuming less energy, the higher the SEER rating. So when it comes to SEER, bigger is better.

The Size of Your AC Unit

But choosing a central air conditioning unit is more involved than merely SEER. The size of your air conditioner must have the capacity to cool your entire home or business correctly. 

If your air conditioner is too large, it won’t properly dehumidify the living space and can lead to mold problems. Yuck! 

If your air conditioner is too small, it will run for longer periods of time and use an excessive amount of energy throughout the day, costing you more rather than less.

This is why it’s important to have a licensed contractor calculate the square footage of your home or business and decide on the best size air conditioner for your needs.

Calculating the Cost

Let’s imagine for a moment that you have a 3-ton air conditioner with a SEER of 15. Now what? We need to figure out how many BTUs the unit uses per hour.

For every ton that your air conditioner weighs, it uses 12,000BTUs or British Thermal Units.

3 Tons x 12,000 BTU = 36,000 total BTU

When you divide the amount of BTUs by your SEER you will discover how many watts of electricity your unit actually uses per hour. 

36,000 BTU ÷ 15 SEER = 2,400 Watts

But our electricity company bills us by kilowatts not watts. So we need to convert the number by moving the decimal to the left 3 times. 

2,400. Watts = 2.4 Kilowatts per Hour

Multiply the kilowatts by how many hours your AC runs to determine how much you spend on your cooling costs per year. 

But how do you figure out that number? Well, in South Florida, the average household uses 2,800 cooling hours.

2.4 Kilowatts Per Hour x 2,800 Hours = 6,720 Kilowatts per Year

Lastly, take a look at your electricity bill, call your electric company, or Google to find out how much you pay for a kilowatt of electricity.

Now multiply your kilowatts per year with the cost. Don’t forget to add a decimal before the cent amount.

6,720 Kilowatts Per Year x .11 Cents = $739.20 per Year

That’s it! You have officially calculated how much your air conditioner should cost you. But should is the keyword here. 

When the Numbers Are Wrong

If your air conditioner is too small or old, the cost could be a lot more. There are many factors that could be straining your HVAC system. 

But the bottom line is, if 25% of your yearly energy consumption or cost is greater than what you calculate, then your AC isn’t running as efficiently as it should be. Check out our other blog post on how to test the efficiency of your central cooling system.

Get a Professional Opinion

Even if the cost is exactly what it should be, you don’t have to live with it. If we install a new system with a higher SEER, it will offer you a better annual cost, guaranteed. To put it into perspective, by 2023, manufacturers must sell energy efficient air conditioners with no less than 15 SEER for residential properties in Florida.

If you’re waiting for your AC unit to fail before you replace it, you will be overpaying on your cooling costs for years. With advances in technology, more efficient air conditioners are available, and you are only one call away from getting started. 

Contact Action Air Conditioning for all your cooling system needs. Let an expert inspect your HVAC unit and inform you of your options. You have plenty of ways to make your AC system energy efficient, and we would love to tell you all about them.