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Meet The Experts

It was a HOT summer! Want to know a secret about saving money on your air conditioning bills?

The price of air conditioners is about to go up – way up. After 2005, air conditioners are mandated by law to be 30% more efficient than today. This will lower utility bills, but you’ll spend more up front for the air conditioner. Early estimates are the new equipment will cost 30% more, and you may be forced to change both the indoor and outdoor equipment.
Air conditioner efficiency is measured in SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio). Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings are more efficient. The current minimum standard is 10 SEER. A 12 SEER air conditioner is 20% more efficient than a 10 SEER. After 12 SEER, manufacturing costs go up dramatically, while the additional efficiency gains are slight.

This is why the Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Institute and most air conditioning manufacturers fought for a minimum efficiency of 12 SEER, rather than 13 SEER. They lost.

After this year, no one will be able to build 10 or 12 SEER air conditioners. The minimum will be 13. Of course, nothing is wrong with a more efficient air conditioner. It’s just a question of how much more you will pay for a marginal increase in efficiency. The difference between a 12 and 13 SEER for a 3-ton (36,000 Btuh), average size air conditioner is about three 75 watt light bulbs of energy use.

Some of the older air conditioners installed were no better than 8 SEER when new and are even less efficient today due to mechanical degradation over time. It’s not unusual to get 6 SEER efficiency from a 15 year old system. Replacing a 6 SEER system with a 10 SEER system will cut your air conditioning costs nearly in half. A 12 SEER system will cut them in half.

Homeowners with older air conditioners may want to compare the cost of replacing their systems with current inventory as opposed to the systems available after the new law takes effect.

What do industry experts recommend? According to Glenn Pack, owner of Pack-Timco Heating and Air Conditioning, he suggests homeowners educate themselves by comparing the cost and energy savings of today’s systems against those mandated for next year. He also suggests acting soon because of the possibility of inventory shortages. Pack-Timco has been serving lower Fairfield County area homeowners since 1979. For more information or a free report call 847-8781 ext 3014 today or contact

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