The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) is the trade association representing manufacturers of more than 90 percent of the air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment installed in North America. They offer their advice on how save money and energy while using your heat and air at home.
A typical home cooling system has two parts: an outdoor condensing unit and an indoor evaporating unit, usually near the furnace,” said Stephen Yurek, president of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, the trade association that independently certifies the efficiency of home heating and cooling equipment. “The outdoor and indoor units are designed to work together. When the air conditioner is properly matched with a furnace or air handler, you get maximum efficiency and longer system life.
“Manufacturers report that a growing number of homeowners are only replacing the broken unit of their two-part system,” said Yurek. “These unknowing homeowners are going to experience several major problems with their systems because new equipment has been designed differently to achieve the 30 percent increase in efficiency and to use the new refrigerants.”
It is important for homeowners to know that Jan. 23, 2006 marked the beginning of a new era in home comfort, when the new federal minimum efficiency standard for central air conditioners and heat pumps increased from 10 SEER to 13 SEER. SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It’s a number similar to miles-per-gallon in automobiles, so the higher the SEER, the more efficient your system. A 13 SEER system is about 30 percent more efficient than a 10 SEER system. Consumers today can choose from a wide range of systems offering efficiency ranging from 13 SEER to 23 SEER.
According to AHRI, if the system’s two units are not properly matched, these major problems will occur:
· The system’s capacity to cool your home will be reduced and you will feel less comfortable
· Energy bills will increase due to reduced efficiency
· Reliability will suffer and compressor failure is more likely to occur
· You lose the opportunity to be eligible to receive a utility rebate or tax credit
Your best first step is to find a qualified and reputable contractor and get answers to these three important questions:
1. Will you be replacing the indoor coil with a new high-efficiency coil?
2. Does the new indoor coil properly match the outdoor unit manufacturer’s specifications for the system?
3. Can you verify the efficiency of the compressor or coil combination by showing me its certified SEER rating in the AHRI Directory of Certified Product Performance or by providing me with an AHRI Certificate of Certified Performance?
To help educate homeowners, AHRI offers a free brochure, “A Perfect Match: Replacing Your Central Air Conditioning or Heat Pump System.” The free brochure is available for consumers to download in the “Homeowners” section of the association’s Web site at www.ari.org.