Among all electrical devices used in homes and commercial buildings, air conditioners and air cooler rentals normally have the highest power consumption. Cooling costs reach their highest point during the summer, since air conditioners work against intense sunshine and warm outdoor air. The summer increase in power bills is especially high in places with tropical weather, such as South Florida.
An air conditioner upgrade may seem expensive, but the reduction in power bills can recover the investment multiple times in the long run. The financial return of an efficient air conditioner is even higher in new properties: if you need an AC unit anyway, why not purchase the most efficient model in the market?
Choosing the Right Air Conditioning System
Window-type air conditioners are a popular option, since they are affordable and easy to install. However, they are also the least efficient type, which makes them the most expensive to use! The main drawback of window air conditioners is having an opening on your wall: this disrupts insulation, and warm outdoor air can easily leak in.
Mini-split air conditioners offer a much higher efficiency than window air conditioners. If you compare two units of the same cooling capacity, the mini-split will normally consume 2 to 3 times less power. Mini-splits also produce less noise than conventional air conditioners, which is a comfort advantage.
In larger commercial buildings, chillers and variable refrigerant flow units (VRF) are an excellent option. In addition to being highly efficient, they concentrate the cooling capacity in one unit instead of a large number of small condensers. This isolates noisy equipment from offices and other occupied spaces, while simplifying maintenance tasks. Servicing one large air conditioner is easier than dealing with numerous small systems.
Even if you have the most efficient air conditioner in the market, having the right cooling capacity for your building is important.
- Surplus capacity is not a good thing when dealing with air conditioners: equipment is more expensive, and the excessive cooling is detrimental for comfort and health.
- Oversized air conditioners also run in shorter intervals, since they cool indoor areas very quickly. However, this intermittent operation wears down mechanical parts faster, forcing you to spend money on replacements.
Importance of Insulation and Air Sealing
Even with an efficient air conditioning system, your will waste plenty of power if the building cannot keep heat outside effectively. In particular, deficient insulation and outdoor air leaks increase cooling expenses.
When dealing with insulation and airtightness problems, the main challenge is that both are invisible. However, energy efficiency consultants can pinpoint these issues with thermal imaging cameras. What is invisible to the unaided eye appears like a hot spot under thermal vision.
If you are planning a new construction project, discuss your insulation and air sealing options with professional HVAC engineers. By combining effective insulation with efficient air conditioning systems, you can save thousands of dollars in power bills over time.
Caulking and weatherstripping are effective for eliminating air leaks in existing buildings. Caulking is used to seal leaks in fixed building elements, while weatherstripping is designed for moving elements like doors and windows.