What is the Most Efficient Air Conditioner?

Air conditioning is not known for being overly energy efficient, but air conditioners are the most effective way of cooling a space down. There are many different types of air conditioning systems and each type has a different efficient rating. Due to the increases in the cost of electricity, the energy efficiency of an air conditioning system is becoming an important purchasing consideration. This means that manufacturers are attempting to improve the efficiency of their products and this means that there are more low energy models to choose from. In addition to this, solar powered air conditioners are providing a genuine air conditioning alternative for homeowners.

Choosing the Most Efficient Air Conditioner

An inverter air conditioner modified to run on solar power.Choosing a new air conditioner can be confusing because there are so many different models on the market. The most efficient air conditioner for your usage will depend on a number of factors such as:

  • where you live (including the climate)
  • the size/area that you are cooling
  • how many rooms you are trying to cool
  • your budget
  • the energy usage and cooling capacity of the air conditioner
  • the temperature the air conditioner is set at
  • if you require heating as well

It is important to consider each factor before making a purchase. It is a good idea to conduct an energy audit of your home so that you can work out the added costs of running an air conditioner. You will then be able to decide which type and model to install in your house/commercial building. The government energy rating system, also known as the star rating system, is one way that can help you work out the most efficient air conditioner. However, it is still important to complete you own calculations because your situation may not be the same as the testing scenario. For example, if you purchase a smaller capacity air conditioner than required then it will be working harder to cool the larger space and it will use more energy.

Split System Air Conditioners

Traditionally this type of air conditioner is one of the least efficient. However, recent developments have led to a decrease in energy usage. They are now very efficient at cooling and also also one of the best ways to quickly heat an area in winter. These factors mean that split systems are now becoming more popular with homeowners. Inverter technology split systems, which feature a variable speed compressor, are much more effective at regulating the temperature in a room. This not only keeps you more comfortable, but it also means that you will be using less power as well! Ultra low energy split systems have also been developed and many of these are designed to be used with solar power. An alternative hybrid solar split system has also been developed and this uses a thermal collector to heat and pressurise the gas in the unit.

Ducted Air Conditioners

A vent installed with a ducted air conditioner.These air conditioners are considered to be one of the most efficient ways of cooling a large home. This system is made up of the standard unit, usually installed on the roof, and a series of ducts that run throughout the roof space with vents (pictured) entering each room. Most ducted air conditioners used in residential premises use evaporative cooling technology. This is relatively energy efficient and provides adequate cooling in most cases. The downside to this type of air conditioning system is that evaporative cooling does not work well in high humidity. Solar ducted air conditioners are also available and these are extremely efficient. The main downside to a solar system is that they are expensive to install.

Commercial Air Conditioners

Commercial air conditioning falls into two main categories; small spaces and large buildings. Small spaces, such as a stand alone office space, can use many of the same cooling systems that are used in the home. Larger buildings, such as an office tower, require large air conditioning systems. Traditionally these have not been overly efficient, but some manufacturers are now producing more efficient models. It is important to compare the systems to find the most efficient model for your commercial buildings.

Tips for Maintaining Air Conditioner Efficiency

A workman cleaning and servicing a split system air conditioner.There are a number of things that you can do to make sure that your air conditioner is performing as efficiently as it possibly can. It is important that an air conditioner is properly maintained at all times.

Clean The UnitKeeping the air conditioner clean is a key way to maintain efficiency. Ideally, you want to remove unwanted dust and moisture from the unit. If you are unsure how to clean your unit then you should consult the user manual or hire a professional air conditioning cleaning company. Cleaning the unit also prevents a build up of bacteria or mould, which can be harmful to your health.
Gas/Coolant/Refrigerant LevelsCertain air conditions require regassing, refrigerant or coolant replacement at specified intervals. If your unit is not serviced then it may become less efficient and have to work harder to cool your home. This not only uses more energy, but it can also cause damage to your air conditioner. Servicing should be completed by a certified air conditioning specialist.
Set the Temperature HigherYou can increase efficiency by setting a slightly higher temperature on the thermostat. Your air conditioner will not have to work as hard and this not only saves energy, but also increases the life span of the unit.
Use a TimerA timer is a great way to increase efficiency. For example, you can set the air conditioner to begin cool the house before you arrive home from work so that you don’t need to rapidly cool your house to a comfortable temperature.
Use FansElectric fans are cheap to run and are fantastic at distributing the cool air from the air conditioner into a room.