A little while ago, I wrote about my friend Zach, and how he was having trouble sleeping at night because his old air conditioner was making too much noise. Since he couldn't afford to buy a new one, I suggested that he keep his old AC on during the day to cool his room, and then turn on a much quieter electric fan while he was sleeping.
Yesterday I was on the phone with him, and Zach reported more problems with his AC. Now, in addition to the hissing and whirring sounds that his unit makes while it's turned on, his apartment has started to get a stale smell while the air conditioner is running. That wasn't that bad, he said, until he got his most recent electric bill.
Even though he has been using an energy-efficient fan to keep cool at night, the electricity cost for his apartment has stayed exactly the same in the last month. He realized that getting a newer, more energy efficient cooling system would probably save him money in the long run.
Since I helped my friend Rose buy an air conditioner recently, I have learned a little bit about what to look for before making a purchase. In order to get the most for your money, I told Zach, you are going to want to look at the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) for your particular unit.
The higher the SEER, the lower the air conditioner will cost to run, because it will be more energy efficient. I told Zach that if he looked for a SEER of 12 or higher, he was bound to notice a great improvement over the unit he has now, since it is almost 15 years old, and air conditioners were not as energy efficient then.
He plans to purchase his new AC this weekend, and is very excited about the newer, quieter, more energy-efficient model that he picked out.