Nobody really thinks much about their air conditioner until a heat-wave strikes and your unit gives out. Then, the primary concern becomes getting the unit up and running again and you hope that you don’t have to spend too much money to do it. Educating yourself about air conditioners before you need to call for a repair or replacement is the key to keeping your costs down. Here’s four things to know about air conditioning terms that could save you thousands of dollars down the road.
1. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
As the term suggests, SEER measures how efficient an air conditioning system is. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency. Although some older systems have a lower rating, the U.S. Department of Energy requires all current systems to have a rating of 13 or higher.
These numbers are important to know as you are considering your options for air conditioning units in Jacksonville, FL as units with a higher SEER rating are typically more expensive. They are, however, less expensive to operate as they consume far less energy than older models and they are better for the environment, too. For some areas of the country, a lower SEER rating might be acceptable but in areas where the air conditioner gets a good workout every year, you’ll want to seek a higher SEER rating to keep your energy costs reasonable.
Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air and anyone in Florida is no stranger to humidity. Even when the outdoor temperatures are relatively low, humidity can make you feel uncomfortable and sweaty. Higher levels of humidity can also be uncomfortable for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems making breathing troublesome or downright difficult.
Most people find a relative humidity of about 45% to be the most comfortable. The average humidity in Jacksonville occasionally dips down towards 40%, but the average daily high humidity level is 89%! When choosing an air conditioning unit in Jacksonville, FL, humidity control is a must.
This term refers to the ability of the unit to operate at higher levels when necessary and lower levels the rest of the time. In the past, air conditioners were either running or they weren’t. Current technology allows the compressor to run at a level that matches the current conditions to save energy and keep your house more comfortable.
For example, on a hot and humid day, your air conditioner will be working very hard to keep your home comfortable. On a milder day, it will take less work to keep the inside air at a comfortable temperature. Older models would simply run less often causing temperature swings, increased humidity inside, and more work when they did kick on. Modulating models can run more frequently at a lower level to keep the home comfortable without wasting energy.
4. Heat Pump
Most cooling systems use a refrigerant to cool the air and pump it into the house. A heat pump works by pulling the heat out of your home and moving it outdoors. What makes heat pumps different from air conditioning systems is that the process can actually be reversed and the unit can be used during cooler months to keep your home warm.
There are several different types of heat pumps that are available:
Air-Source Heat Pump. This is the most common type used and it operates by transferring the heat from the air inside your home to the air outside your home to keep it cool, or in reverse, to heat the home.
Geothermal Heat Pump. These systems transfer heat either through the ground or through a nearby water source and your home. Geothermal pumps can be more expensive to install, but they tend to be less expensive to operate because ground and water temperatures are more stable so less energy is used to make the heat exchange.
Absorption Heat Pump. Rather than operating on electricity, these pumps use a heat source such as natural gas or solar heated water to operate. The heat is transferred using an evaporator system to either absorb heat or release heat to the inside of your home.
Upgrading Existing Systems
You may also be wondering if you could simply upgrade an existing system to make it more efficient to operate, especially if your air conditioner is still relatively new. Before you give up on your current air conditioning system in Jacksonville, have a qualified technician evaluate it to see if it’s operation can be improved.
The More You Know
The more you understand about how air conditioning in Jacksonville, FL works, the better your decisions can be when it comes time to repair or replace your current unit. There are a number of factors that affect the efficiency of any model and different types of systems that offer different benefits. Discuss your options with a knowledgeable air conditioning technician in Jacksonville FL to make sure you’re getting the system that’s just right for you and your budget.