These air conditioner facts might surprise you—and some will help you help your AC work better for you all summer.
1. People have been trying to stay cool for centuries.
During the 3rd century, legend has it that the Roman Emperor Elagabalus had snow carried down from the top of the mountains via donkeys and piled in his garden to stay cool.
Cooling technology has improved since then, thanks to a New York engineer named Willis Carrier, who invented the modern air conditioner in 1902. The device was first used in public spaces like stores and offices, but gradually became affordable for homes,
Today, about 87 percent of American homes have an AC system, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) .
2. On average, half a home’s energy use is for heating and cooling.
The average household spends about $1,400 a year on energy, and the EIA says that about half that come from the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, depending on where you live. Your energy bill can triple during the summer, according to Russ Katsov, an HVAC expert for Sears Home Services.
To lower costs in the long run, Katsov advises investing in a quality system up front, rather than spending more money running a cheap AC. “It ends up being far more trouble to keep replacing them,” Katsov says.
3. Dehumidified air is more comfortable.
An outdoor temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit might feel on the warm side if the air is humid. Because an air conditioner removes humidity, a temperature of 75 to 78 degrees indoors feels comfortable,
4. An HVAC system can be too big.
“A lot of people have the misconception that they should get the biggest HVAC system they can afford,” Katsov says. “But too big an AC system will increase energy use by turning on and off too often, and it won’t remove humidity the way it’s supposed to.
“Conversely, a system that’s too small will run all the time, which also runs up the energy bill.”
A well-trained HVAC contractor will do what’s called a “Manual J load calculation” to determine the correct size.
5. An HVAC filter’s MERV rating can be too high.
HVAC air filters have a MERV rating that indicates its filtering power: the higher the number, the more particulates the filter can trap. But filters with a MERV ratings over 16 aren’t for home use; a residential HVAC flower motor isn’t designed to move air through the super-tiny pores of a filter rated over 16. For most HVAC systems, a filter with a MERV rating of 13 does a good job of cleaning the air.
Of course, no matter what the MERV rating, a dirty filter reduces your HVAC’s efficiency, so change the filter every one to three months, depending on the filter type and how often you run the AC.
6. Smart technology can save money.
Consider replacing your thermostat with a Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostat, which learns your preferences over time and that you can control remotely. “A Wi-Fi thermostat can help reduce energy consumption up to 15 percent, according to the US Department of Energy,” Katsov says.