Older and less energy-efficient air conditioners are contributing to global warming with greenhouse gases emitted in the production of electricity. Unlike the energy-efficient process of producing heat from natural gas, generating electricity to cool our homes and offices requires a lot of effort and a lot of coal. As temperatures rise in the warmer months of the year, more people turn to the comfort of air conditioning, and the greenhouse gases that result will continue to warm the earth. Although no type of air conditioner is exempt from these concerns, some models will be more environmentally-friendly than others.
Certain types of cooling units will demand a higher investment, while other types of air conditioners will cost less money, but will be inefficient. Heating and cooling accounts for around half of the average home's energy consumption; an energy-efficient air conditioner can reduce this percentage by a surprising amount.
Energy Star is a voluntary partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, local utilities, product manufacturers and retailers that promotes energy efficiency above and beyond government standards. A room air conditioner with an Energy Star endorsement will be at least 10% more efficient than the minimum government mandated energy-efficient ratio, or EER rating. It will not only reduce your energy bill by about 20%, but will also help reduce the global environmental costs of high energy consumption.
Energy Star estimates that if everyone purchases air conditioners or other products that meet their superior energy efficiency criteria, the national annual energy bill would be reduced by about $100 billion over the next 15 years, and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road for each of those 15 years.
Although a brand new energy-efficient model will be the best move to relieve some environmental stress, there are ways to curb your greenhouse gas emissions while you continue to use your current model. First, investigate the unit's refrigerant charge—the proper level of refrigerant will go far to keep the unit functioning correctly and efficiently. An HVAC service provider or technician will be able to determine the level of the refrigerant and resolve any problem. Wall or window units should be kept clean and free of moisture, while central air conditioners should be cleaned annually by a professional service.