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New Air Conditioning Systems are More Energy Efficient, Enviromentally Friendly

New Air Conditioning Systems are More Energy Efficient, Enviromentally Friendly

Winnipeg, MB – Thirteen is your lucky number – 13 SEER, that is, the Department of Energy’s new minimum standard for air conditioning efficiency.

D. Brian Baker, President, Custom Vac Limited said that standard went into effect on January 23, 2006. “It’s a big change for the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) industry,” he added. “There has been publicity about it, but this is a good time to talk about it again, because April 22-28, 2007 is National Indoor Comfort Week®.” Initiated by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America in 2003 and now sponsored by most of the major industry organizations, National Indoor Comfort Week celebrates the contributions HVACR contractors make to their communities and the nation.

Baker explained that SEER stands for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio.” It’s a measure of the efficiency of central air conditioning systems and air-conditioning heat pumps.

The SEER number expresses the amount of cooling delivered (expressed in British thermal units, or Btus) for every watt-hour of electricity the system consumes during a cooling season. “The higher the SEER number, the more cooling it delivers for the energy it uses and, therefore, the more efficient it is,” commented Baker. “A 10 SEER air conditioner will get the air just as cold, but it takes 30 percent more energy to do it.”

The Department of Energy estimates that the switch to 13 SEER will save 4.2 quadrillion Btus of energy during the next 25 years. That’s as much energy as 26 million households use annually now.

Out with the Old?

The DOE regulation does not mean that you had to replace your existing air conditioner by January 23, 2006. It does require that manufacturers stop making anything less than 13 SEER after that date. You can still buy 10, 11, or 12 SEER systems that were manufactured before January 23, Baker said.

In addition to saving energy, which is a plus environmentally in itself, 13 SEER air conditioners will be designed to use new refrigerants that don’t deplete the ozone layer.

“For years, we’ve been using something called ‘R-22,’” noted Baker. “You may be more familiar with its trade name, Freon®. It contains chlorine, now known to be harmful. The Environmental Protection Agency ruled that air conditioning equipment using R-22 may not be produced after January 23, 2010, although the refrigerant will still be available to service existing equipment.”

Baker suggested that if your system is 8 to 10 years old, this is a good time to invest in a new air conditioner. You’ll be ahead of the curve environmentally, but even if that’s not important to you, you’ll have a more efficient system, which will save you money, and

your air conditioner will have more features and enhanced reliability and performance.

It’s important to remember that you can’t change just one part of your HVAC system to 13 SEER and R-410A. You have to replace the entire system – condensing unit, evaporator coil, and refrigerant lines. For example, if the outside unit of your existing 10 SEER or lower system fails, you will need to replace the inside evaporator coil, too. No reputable contractor will replace just the outdoor unit, because it may work for a while, but will fail before long, perhaps in a week or two! And it’s unlikely that the manufacturer will warranty the new outdoor unit unless the indoor equipment matches it.

Baker added that consumers can find more information about this and other HVACR issues at the official National Indoor Comfort Week website at www.comfortweek.com.

ACCA represents the nationwide educational, policy, and technical interests of the small businesses who design, install, and maintain indoor environmental systems. Custom Vac Limited has been serving residents of Winnipeg and surrounding areas since 1970.

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