Tag Archives: Dove Mountain

Why the SEER Is Important When Choosing an Air Conditioner? A Question From Oro Valley

There are many things to take into account when you are trying to pick out a new air conditioning system in Oro Valley. You want one that will be powerful enough to cool the required space but not so big that it turns your home into a walk in freezer. With so many models and types on the market, it can be difficult to figure out what details you need to pay attention to and what you can ignore.

The seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) that each air conditioner comes with is not something you should ever disregard, however. This number is a reflection of the overall energy efficiency of the unit and it can have a huge impact on the amount you pay to keep running your air conditioner every month. The higher the SEER of a product, the more energy efficient it is and the lower your monthly bills will be.

Of course, air conditioners with a higher SEER also generally come with a higher price tag, so you will have to weigh the amount of your potential savings against the difference in price of units with different SEERs.

To calculate this, you will need to know exactly how much more energy efficient one model is compared to the others. For instance, when you know that an air conditioner with a SEER of 11 is 7% more efficient than one with a SEER of 10, you are in a better position to evaluate the potential savings.

You will still need to translate this into dollars, of course, because the amount you save with a 7% boost in efficiency will depend largely on how much you typically pay already. If you are only paying around $320 a year with a SEER 10 air conditioner, upgrading to a SEER 11 will only save you about $30. However, if your annual cooling bills are closer to $1000, you will easily save close to $150 with this small upgrade.

SEER numbers go much higher than 10 and 11 too. In fact, the highest you will probably get is a 19.5 SEER, but that will more than cut your cooling bills in half if you are starting with a SEER 10. Still, the actual amount that you will save depends on how much you were paying to begin with, but if your cooling bills are already very high, it may be worth it to invest in an expensive but very high efficiency system. If you need more information, contact your local HVAC contractor.

Inverter vs Conventional Models

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When trying to pick out the right air conditioner for your home, you’ll probably stumble across mention of inverter technology. Air conditioners using inverter technology are quite similar to conventional air conditioners in many respects, but they have some distinct advantages under certain circumstances.

What’s the Difference?

A conventional air conditioner is set up to switch on when the indoor temperature reaches a particular level. When it comes on, it introduces cool air at a constant speed until the desired temperature is reached and then it shuts off completely. Your indoor environment remains more or less the same temperature, but you will be blasted periodically with a lot of cold air. While the air conditioner is off, the air in the room gradually warms up until the temperature gets high enough to trigger the air conditioning system to come on again.

An inverter, on the other hand, comes on powerfully at first to achieve the desired temperature, and then reduces its fan speed gradually to maintain that temperature without shutting off completely. This method of cooling maintains the desired temperature more consistently than a conventional system can. It also requires a lot of careful measurements, not only for how much cooling power is needed in your room, but for the speed at which the cool air will dissipate from that room.

Initial Installation

One big reason that more people didn’t opt for an inverter air conditioning system in the past was that the initial installation cost was often considerably higher than that of a conventional system. However, advances in the technology have made inverter air conditioners much more affordable in recent years. Digital programming, more accurate measurements and efficiency in every aspect of the field are responsible for the drop in price.

Savings over Time

While inverter air conditioning systems are still typically more expensive than their conventional counterparts when it comes to initial cost, they provide excellent savings over time that can more than make up for the difference in purchase price. This is particularly true in areas where air conditioners are not running at full blast constantly.

When they are both maxed out, a conventional air conditioner is more efficient than an inverter. But when the temperature is such that a conventional model would switch on and off all of the time, an inverter will easily outstrip it in terms of energy efficiency.

To ensure you get the right model for your home, carefully calculate the difference in installation costs, the amount of cooling your home needs and the current efficiency of your cooling system. If everything lines up perfectly, an inverter system may be right for you.

What Is SEER?

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If you’ve been looking at air conditioners, you’ve probably noticed that they all seem to have a SEER rating. But what does this actually mean?

The SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a measure of how energy efficient a particular air conditioning model is. So when you’re shopping around for the best deal on an air conditioner for your home, this is something you’ll absolutely want to pay attention to.

Interpreting SEER Ratings

The SEER rating system is relatively simple – the higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the product. But because a higher price tag typically comes with a higher SEER rating, it’s important to know just how much more efficient a higher rated unit will be. It helps you decide whether paying significantly more for a higher rated unit is worth it in long term savings. Will it actually save you enough each month to make up for the difference in price?

Evaluating Your Energy Usage

A big factor here is how much you will use your air conditioner. If you live in a place with very hot and humid summers where the air conditioning runs constantly, you’re probably best off with the highest SEER you can find. When you consume that much energy to keep your home cool, you want to get as much as possible out of it, and that’s what a high SEER model can do for you.

On the other hand, if you live in an area that doesn’t have the harshest summers, you may be better off with a slightly less efficient (and therefore cheaper) model. Keep in mind, too, that the actual percentage increase in energy efficiency goes up by smaller and smaller increments the higher in SEER ratings you get. For instance, while a 10 SEER unit may be almost 20% more efficient than an 8 SEER model, a 12 SEER is only about 10% more efficient than that 10 SEER.

Finding the Right Balance

The best way to decide what SEER rating is best for you is to determine the annual cooling costs with your current unit and then calculate your savings in dollars based on the percentage each model would improve your efficiency. If you don’t currently have an air conditioner, this can be a bit tricky, but a professional contractor or air conditioning salesman can help you estimate your total monthly cooling costs with the various units.

LEED Accreditation – What Is It, and How Can I Get It for my Home?

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LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally-recognized green building rating system based on standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The LEED system is voluntary and offers homebuyers third-party verification that a home is sustainable, water efficient, and energy-saving; is designed to conserve construction materials and reduce pollution; and has clean indoor air.

Homes that are candidates for LEED accreditation are rated on a 100-point scale. The home must satisfy all minimum requirements and earn a minimum number of total points. Key areas of evaluation include:

  • Sustainability of Building Site. The home’s impact on ecosystems and waterways must be minimized, as must erosion, light pollution, and construction-related pollution.
  • Water Efficiency. The home must have water-efficient appliances and fixtures and regionally appropriate landscaping.
  • Energy and Atmosphere. The home must have energy-efficient design, appliances, systems, and lighting. More points are awarded for use of clean and renewable energy and other innovative strategies.
  • Materials and Resources. The home must use sustainable materials, and construction and operating waste must be minimized.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality. The home must have high indoor air quality, good indoor acoustics, and access to natural daylight and views.
  • Locations and Linkages. The LEED standard promotes building in previously-developed, “infill”, or “brownfield” sites and away from undeveloped and/or environmentally-sensitive sites. Points are also awarded for building near existing retail and transit infrastructure and outdoor recreation areas.
  • Awareness and Education. Home builders are encouraged to teach new homeowners about the green features of their home so that they can be maximally utilized.
  • Innovation in Design. Points are awarded for home design that is innovative and goes “above and beyond” existing LEED requirements, and for including a LEED certified professional on the design team.
  • Regional Priority. Bonus points are awarded for taking into account the regional environmental concerns that have been identified by USGBC’s regional councils.

LEED accreditation doesn’t just make sense from an environmental standpoint. It also makes good financial sense:

  • LEED accreditation offers great ROI for new construction – some studies have shown that an upfront investment of 2% in green building design can result in long term savings of 20% on total construction costs.
  • LEED-certified homes generally have lower operating costs.
  • LEED-certified homes are more attractive to buyers and renters (according to studies, commercial LEED-certified buildings have higher occupancy rates, higher rent-per-square foot, and higher per-square-foot sale prices than comparable non-LEED buildings).
  • LEED certification may provide some protection against indoor air quality lawsuits.

LEED accreditation can only be granted to new construction or major remodeling projects. To apply for LEED accreditation, contact a LEED for Homes Provider organization in your area. The LEED for Homes Provider organization will work with your builder to ensure that your home qualifies and will guide you through the accreditation process.