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These Are The Energy-Saving Features To Look For When Buying An Air Con

Beat the heat without breaking the budget

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Original Article: Amillah Rodil Photography: Miguel Nacianceno (Main Photo)

The term “energy-efficient air conditioner” is an oxymoron. An air con is a notorious power hog; in terms of energy consumption, it leaves behind all other appliances in the dust.

According to the Meralco Appliance Calculator (download the app here), an air conditioner can cost from P4 up to P20 per hour, depending on its cooling capacity. Its closest competitor in energy consumption is the standard flat iron, which costs about P5 per hour. In contrast, a regular desk fan costs only about 30 centavos per hour. So really, the best way to be energy-efficient is not to use an air conditioner at all.

But with climate change on us, sometimes we just can’t take the heat. With our other expenses also rising, we need every little peso we can save. The good news is that air conditioner manufacturers have been working to make their ACs more energy-efficient. It may not be as energy-saving as an electric fan, but if you buy an air-conditioner today, it will definitely be much more efficient than that ten-year old AC you got secondhand.

When choosing air conditioners, look for these energy-efficient features:


High Energy Ratio Compressor

Most air-conditioners now have compressors with high Energy Efficiency Ratios or EER. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy recommends an EER of at least 10.8.

Inverter Technology

This works like a car accelerator—decreasing or increasing power consumption as needed, in contrast to conventional air conditioners where power output is constant. It regulates power consumption through altering the speed of the compressor in response to cooling demand, making it more energy efficient (EERs can go as high as 14).

Manufacturers claim that you can save up to 40 to 50 percent in your electricity bill with inverter technology. It’s also more powerful, quieter, and less prone to breakdowns. This is now found in split-type air-conditioners, but is not yet in window-type models.

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READ: Do Old Air Conditioners Consume More Electricity?


Programmable Timers

These 12-hour or 24-hour timers allow you to set when the air-conditioner starts or stops automatically. By themselves, these don’t make an AC energy-efficient, but these will enable you to set a strategy for minimizing its use. For example, at night, you can set the AC to turn off automatically after a few hours, when the temperature outside has gotten cooler, and then turn on again when the sun starts coming up.

Easy Maintenance

Dirty or clogged air conditioner filters will prevent proper air circulation, thus making your AC work harder. Newer air conditioner models now have features that make them easier to clean and maintain. These include easy detachable panels and filters, micro-computer operated defrosting, self-diagnostic and self-cleaning functions.

READ: I Booked My Air Conditioner Repair Service Online


Cooling Capacity

Make sure also that the air conditioner model you’re buying has the right cooling capacity for your room. While AC sellers usually cite the horsepower, this really only refers to the power input (1 horsepower = 745 watts). The higher horsepower means that it consumes more electricity. The cooling capacity is usually measured in Kj/h or Btu/h. To give you an idea, a nine-sqm room would need about 5,275 kJ/h, which would require about 0.6 horsepower to run. The store attendant can usually help you in choosing the right size. Make adjustments depending on the condition of the room. According to the US Energy Star, if the room is very sunny, increase the capacity by 10 percent.

READ: How To Compute Your Air Con’s Horsepower Based On Your Room Size

This story originally appeared in the article “That’s Cool!” in the April 2010 issue of Real Living magazine

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