When the day comes that you decide either your old A/C unit is ready for retirement, or it’s simply just time for an upgrade to a more modern air conditioning system, among the first considerations probably coming to mind as you ponder your new options will be one thing—price.
Much as one might do while strolling the dealership lot and thinking about a new car, it can be easy to simply compare a homeowner’s air conditioning options by the upfront cost of the system and its installation.
However, just like with a car’s fuel-efficiency, the energy-efficiency of a home’s air conditioning system can make a serious difference—especially once it comes time to open that monthly energy bill.
With this comprehensive guide, we walk you through the full spectrum of air conditioning equipment and residential cooling options—providing you a side-by-side comparison of each and every option in order to help you find the most energy-efficient air conditioning options for your individual needs and budget.
Back to Basics: Standard Cooling and Air Conditioning Equipment
Whether you are preparing for a fresh installation or looking for maintenance and repairs on your existing air conditioning system, there are several main systems on the market to keep in mind when evaluating the cooling equipment and options in your home.
Here are just a few of the most common A/C systems seen in homes today:
Central Air Conditioning Systems
Typically, central air conditioning is the go-to cooling option for homeowners who have ductwork throughout their house and are seeking whole-home cooling systems. Central air comes in two flavors—packaged A/C units, or split-system central air conditioners.
For those currently planning a new system installation project and trying to decide between the two options, packaged and split-system air conditioners rate fairly evenly for energy-efficiency. If your home has a furnace already installed, however, you may want to do some more research on installing split-system air conditioners.
With split-system air conditioners, homeowners are able to add an A/C system onto their pre-existing furnace, making it possible to get the best of both worlds without making the costly investment in an entirely new cooling system for your home.
Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioners
If you’re in need of a cooling option for a small space, but are either not interested in installing ductwork in your home or only want to cool a few specific areas like a basement, attic, or single bedroom, investing in individual ductless air conditioners may be a better choice than central A/C.
Rather than cooling every inch of your home, these mini ductless air conditioning units can be placed virtually anywhere and everywhere in your home—allowing homeowners to target specific areas and individually control the temperatures in each room.
Although each ductless unit can be controlled independently and even shut off altogether, keep in mind that trying to cool your entire home with mini ductless systems could be a much more expensive route to take, as each unit will need to work much harder by itself than a more powerful centralized A/C system working as a single unit to cool the house.
Wall and Window Unit Air Conditioners
Much like the ductless mini split air conditioner, wall and window A/C units are designed to cool individual spaces—usually anywhere from 100–300 sq. feet.
Unlike the ductless split A/C units—which can be placed in out-of-the-way areas like high up on the wall—there are disadvantages to window units that impact aesthetics as well as efficiency.
Besides rendering the window they are installed in utterly unusable, window A/C units are not easily removable and often let in more heat than they should from the panels that support the unit and block off the window—leaving them as another option to always consider, but probably not the most efficient.
Top Cooling Systems and Strategies for Maximizing Your Energy & Cost-Efficiency
While central air, ductless mini air conditioners, or wall and window A/C units may be some of the more standard residential cooling options for homeowners to consider, there are also a range of other systems and additional HVAC features that have the potential to offer you plenty of energy-efficient benefits.
The following are several alternatives for a residential air conditioning solution:
Able to provide homeowners the best of both worlds, heat pumps can either cool your home by extracting heat from indoor air and pumping it outside, or heat your house by alternatively pulling the heat from outside air and using it to warm your home.
Because a heat pump runs off of electricity versus gas or oil and simply moves air rather than generating it, the system is far more efficient than standard centralized air systems and in turn, saves you much more money on your monthly energy bills.
The only thing to keep in mind with installing a heat pump for your home is that these systems come with what is called a heat pump “balance point”.
When temperatures are at or around 37° F (the aforementioned balance point), a heat pump needs to run nearly constantly to maintain comfortable interior temperatures, meaning that for areas with winter seasons that frequently drop below this balance point, a heat pump may be a comfortable, although inefficient option to settle on.
Ideal for homes in dry, low-humidity regions, the swamp cooler (otherwise known as an evaporative cooler) is another excellent alternative system for cooling one’s home.
According to Xcel Energy, swamp coolers use only a quarter the energy of central air conditioning, leaving them able to offer up to 75% more of the energy-efficiency than other cooling options.
Adding evaporated water to the air passing through from outside and in doing so cooling it by up to 30°, the swamp cooler sends this air throughout your home—causing warm inside air to rise and escape out your windows.
The control panel to your HVAC system and both your home’s heating and cooling, every house has a thermostat—but did you know you can sculpt your temperature settings to match your life’s schedule?
There’s no point to keeping your home cool while you’re gone all day at work, but nobody wants to come home to an oven for a house. With a programmable thermostat, homeowners are able to set their heat or air conditioning systems to really kick in only an hour before they get home—rather than all day.
That way, you can ensure you’ll still be plenty comfortable when it comes time to kick your shoes off in the evening, but you don’t have to pay for a full day’s worth of unnecessary A/C to get it.
Get Free, No-Hassle Estimates on Energy-Efficient Cooling Systems for Your Home Today
Whether you’re looking for an update with a fresh installation of a new air conditioning system, or are needing repairs or maintenance on your already-existing A/C unit, it’s essential that factors like energy and cost-efficiency are also considered in addition to the upfront cost of installation.
At Pro HVAC Service, our nationwide network of the top HVAC contractors are able to provide their maintenance, repair, and installation services for the full spectrum of air conditioning units and systems. Let us help you find the ideal HVAC system for lowering the amount of money you spend each month while boosting the energy-efficiency of your home’s air conditioning.
To get started scheduling an installation or repair with an HVAC technician near your home, just give us a call at (844) 769-5995, or simply fill out the form to your right to request free, no-obligation estimates on any of our various cooling systems and strategies today!
Additional Cooling and Air Conditioning Resources
If you have a furnace and your home doesn’t have a working air conditioner installed, or you are instead considering replacing an old A/C unit that’s nearing the end of its life, be sure to keep adding A/C to your existing furnace on your list of options. In this article, we take a closer look at the process of adding air conditioning to your furnace—as well as some of the advantages.
Although common A/C problems usually stem from poor installation and maintenance, it never hurts to familiarize yourself with your system when working with your HVAC technician. Here we explore several common parts of the A/C system to have your technician check out during maintenance, as well as some of the top problems owners encounter.
HVAC systems are an essential part of nearly every home and are highly customizable. Although there are some parts that an HVAC system cannot function without, there are others that—while they may offer various benefits—aren’t strictly necessary. In this comprehensive guide, we cover a range of available features and add-ons stretching from the fundamental to the flamboyant.