Americans rely on air conditioning a lot, and any homeowner will tell you it can get expensive. But there are more ways than one to air condition a building, and some green technology is very affordable.
Central air conditioning makes use of your ductwork to distribute cool air to every room in your house. The air is literally forced through the building, meaning it’s also forced through leaks in the ductwork and in the building’s shell itself. This alone can account for 20 percent of wasted energy. Also, do you really need air conditioning in every room? If not, that’s more wasted energy. You may want to think about green technology that serves a smaller area.
Consider a window-mounted air conditioning unit for the spaces you spend the most time in. If you close the doors on rooms that don’t need to be cooled, window-mounted units can be very efficient.
You might also think about installing a ductless mini-split. This air conditioning unit includes indoor and outdoor components, like a regular air conditioner. The compressor is outside, while the air handler is mounted inside–often in an inconspicuous area close to the ceiling. The two are connected by a cable that’s passed through a small hole in your wall. Mini-splits are quiet, and some models incorporate green technology that filters air while cooling it.
Whichever air conditioning technology you opt for, look for an Energy Star qualified model to be sure it’s at least 15 percent more efficient than the minimum federal standards. In conventional air conditioning units, look for high SEER ratings (a 14 is considered good, but 2o or higher is the best). The SEER tells you how efficiently the system uses energy over the course of a cooling season.
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