The climate is heating up, and air conditioners are one way to cope in the hot summer months. But which air conditioners are the most eco friendly? Check out this guide to find out.
Why we need to rethink our air conditioners
Air conditioning is ubiquitous in the developed world- 91% of US households have it. While it has some benefits, like comfort and health, it’s a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Air conditioners consume 10% of all electricity worldwide.
There are two main factors that make air conditioners unsustainable: their energy use, and the coolants they use. Air conditioners are most likely to be powered by fossil fuels, since only 20% of electricity in the US is from renewables. Hypothetically, an air conditioner could be powered with renewable electricity, but just because the energy is renewable doesn’t mean we shouldn’t conserve it. Older, inefficient models are also the norm in old buildings, which means they often use more electricity than they might otherwise need.
Conventional air conditioners work by using coolants like freon. They take warm air in, run it over coils of coolant, and then pump the now cold air back into the room. The problem with coolants is they’re incredibly damaging to the ozone layer. It’s fine when they’re safely contained, but there’s risk of leakage during installation and repairs. Older air conditioners are also more likely to leak. Then, when the air conditioner is disposed of (likely in a landfill), there’s nothing stopping the coolant from getting into the atmosphere.
The science behind eco friendly air conditioners
Talk about some of the innovations making air conditioners eco friendly. What is being done / what is being improved
There are a few features that make an air conditioner more eco-friendly. One important consideration is the size. You want to make sure the AC unit you’re buying is appropriate for the space it will be cooling- smaller isn’t always better. An air conditioner has to use more energy to cool a space of the wrong size. The energy efficiency of a unit doesn’t matter if it’s not in a correctly sized room.
Another consideration is which coolant is used. While more eco-friendly air conditioners also need to use coolants, newer models often use different ones like carbon dioxide or water. Just be sure to steer clear of freon.
Newer air conditioners often have eco modes or other settings to improve their efficiency. They might automatically shut off when they sense that the desired temperature in the room or house is reached. Some of them are programmable as well, so you can set a schedule of the times you’ll be around, and the unit won’t operate when you’re not.
Some certifications you can look for that point to quality units are Energy Star and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). These are both accredited by the Department of Energy to show high levels of energy efficiency.
6 eco friendly air conditioners to consider
Here’s a few different options of some of the most eco-friendly air conditioners. When you’re choosing one, just make sure it’s the correct type and size for your situation.
1. LG’s DUAL Inverter Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Window Air Conditioner
This window air conditioner boasts not only an Energy Star certification, but 35% more energy savings than what the certification requires. This is thanks to its trademarked Dual Inverter Compressor, which works faster and more efficiently than other compressors. It also has compatibility to be controlled by your smartphone. Check out the product on LG’s website.
2. Amana AVXC20
This central air conditioner has a SEER rating of 24.5, which means it is highly efficient. One thing that helps its efficiency is its multi-speed compressor, which adjusts its speed to match the demand based on outdoor temperature. It also has a generous warranty, which offers peace of mind to buyers. Check out its information page on Amana’s website.
3. GE Profile™ ENERGY STAR® 10,000 BTU Inverter Smart Ultra Quiet Window Air Conditioner
GE claims that this window air conditioner is the most efficient one on the market, since it’s the most efficient among AC’s with Energy Star certification. In addition to being efficient, it reports energy usage, has an eco mode, and is ultra quiet. Check out its page on GE’s website for more details.
4. Keystone Energy Star
This window-mounted air conditioner is Energy Star certified and works great for small spaces. It’s available in several different sizes, so be sure to pick the correct one for your space. It has an energy saver mode, and several different fan and cooling speeds so you can maximize efficiency even more. Check out its page on Walmart.com for more information.
5. Lennox SL28XCV
This central air conditioner is just about as efficient as they come, with a 28 SEER rating. It’s programmable down to the minute, so you’re in complete control of the temperature in your home. It’s also quiet and comes with a smart thermostat. Go to its info page on Lennox’s website for more details.
6. Whynter ARC-14S Portable Air Conditioner Dual Hose
This portable air conditioner is super mobile, so it could work as a secondary AC if you’re trying to use your central one less. Its air filters are washable, and it has a timer function to make it more efficient. Check out its page on Walmart.com for more information.
How to embrace the heat (and use less air conditioning)
Even if you have an efficient air conditioner, it’s good to limit how much you use it if you can. Give these tips a try to help you beat the heat!
Ease your way into it
If you’re trying to get adjusted to existing in the heat, you don’t have to stop using your AC cold turkey. Try raising the temperature one degree every day or week so you can slowly adjust.
Only use AC in the hottest part of the day
Temperatures range across the day, with cooler temperatures in the morning and evening and hotter temperatures in the middle of the day. Although air conditioners use more energy to operate in hotter temperatures, using it less overall will still use less energy.
If you’re trying to stay cool without AC on a hot day, it’s important to drink plenty of water. Cold beverages have the added bonus of cooling you off, too!
Only use AC on especially hot days
Experiment with what you can tolerate in terms of heat. You might be able to go without AC up to 82 degrees, but then you need it. Set a boundary for yourself and see how it goes!
Opening your windows and using electric fans are some ways to increase airflow in your home without running the AC.
Don’t run the AC when you’re not there
There’s no need to keep an empty house cool. Consider keeping your AC off when you’re at work during the day or when you go on vacation.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to stay cool in the summer. But if you have the extra cash, updating your air conditioning unit can be a great way to increase the overall efficiency of your home. Thanks for reading, and keep fighting the good fight!