Understanding the key components of an air conditioning system can help you choose wisely when it’s time for an upgrade, especially when it comes to choosing advanced features for cutting energy use and boosting performance.
Here’s a rundown of some air conditioning basics — as well as some optional features for improving efficiency and home comfort:
- Compressors. Your A/C’s compressor converts refrigerant that’s in gas form back to a liquid again by putting the gas under high pressure. With a dual-stage compressor, your system can work more precisely to meet your home’s cooling needs, depending on the weather. It will provide low-stage cooling during mild weather and high-stage cooling during the hottest days.
- Motors. Similarly, an electronically commutated motor (ECM) adjusts its output according to the current conditions. It runs faster when it’s hotter to boost its airflow and slower when your cooling needs are less. This lets your A/C consume less electricity overall than a non-ECM fan. ECMs also run more quietly.
- Air handlers. The air handler is the indoor portion of your A/C, containing the blower, that sends air into your ductwork to be conveyed throughout your home. A variable-speed unit runs at lower speeds most of the time, saving energy and providing more even cooling, and ramps up to high speeds only when temperatures increase.
- Valves. Your air conditioner has a valve through which the refrigerant flows. A thermostat expansion valve (TXV) can meter precise amounts of refrigerant depending on your home’s cooling needs, on a minute-by-minute basis. A TXV valve can open to allow for more refrigerant into the system on hotter days and limit refrigerant on milder days.
Other advanced options: Fan-only controls and a delay-fan switch give you the flexibility to use the fan at night, or to run the fan for a few minutes after the compressor shuts off, further circulating cooled air. Both decrease overall energy consumption.
When you understand a few air conditioning basics, an upgrade can take your savings and comfort to new levels. Contact the experts at Jon Wayne Heating & Air Conditioning today for help selecting a new air conditioner. Serving the San Antonio area, we’re always happy to help.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
Air conditioner image via Shutterstock