Air Conditioners - Frequent Questions
WHAT DO RATING NUMBERS MEAN?
The U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all air conditioning and heating equipment. The rating reflects the percentage of energy used efficiently, with a high rating indicating high-efficiency. The next two topics address this issue in greater detail.
WHAT IS A SEER?
There are special names for the efficiency ratings of various types of equipment. Air conditioning equipment is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit.
WHAT DOES HSPF STAND FOR?
There are special names for the efficiency ratings of varying types of equipment. Heat pump equipment in the heating mode is rated by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF. The higher the HSPF rating, the more efficient the unit.
WHAT DOES AFUE STAND FOR?
There are special names for the efficiency ratings of various types of equipment. Gas furnaces are rated according to their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the unit.
SHOULD OUTDOOR UNITS BE COVERED IN WINTER?
No. Heat pumps operate year-round and should never be covered. Similarly, air conditioners that operate seasonally are built to withstand an outdoor environment and should not be covered.
SHOULD A THERMOSTAT BE SET TO "AUTO" OR "ON"?
Preferably auto. That way, the fan operates only when the temperature requires it. This is the most used and the most efficient setting. However, there are advantages to using the "on" setting. Air is constantly filtered through the unit's air filter, and the constantly circulating air results in an even temperature throughout the house.
CAN SHRUBS OR FLOWERS BE PLANTED AROUND AN OUTDOOR UNIT?
Yes. However, we recommend that plants be no closer than 18 inches to the unit. This allows for plenty of room for air circulation in and out of the unit. Without this room for air circulation, the unit could overheat, resulting in a premature need for service.
IF AN OUTDOOR UNIT NEEDS REPLACING, SHOULD THE INDOOR UNIT BE REPLACED TOO?
Yes. Air conditioning and heating units are designed to operate as a complete, matched system. The efficiency rating is based on the entire system. Replacing the entire system ensures the system will be reliable and efficient.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SPLIT SYSTEM AND A PACKAGE UNIT?
A split system uses indoor and outdoor components to provide a complete home comfort system. A package unit or self-contained unit requires no external coils, air handlers, or heating units.