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Let’s Talk About Air Conditioning

With warm weather just around the corner, now is a great time to have your air conditioning system checked out. I realize that as you are reading this, we could either have four inches of snow or it could be sunny and warm outside.

The technology in new air conditioning equipment is very impressive. For years, we only had one choice: a single-stage compressor that turns on at full power every time the thermostat calls for cooling. Technology got substantially better with a two-stage system. With a two-stage compressor, the air conditioning refrigerant gets pumped through the system just like in a single-stage system, but the difference is that there are two different stages of cooling. Stage one runs the system at maximum capacity on the highest setting, just like your old unit, but the second stage allows the system to run at a much lower capacity. The percentage depends on the unit, but it is typically around 60% of maximum capacity. Keeping the unit from kicking on to full power will not only save you money but may also help remove humidity more efficiently.

The newest air conditioning upgrade is the variable speed system. If a single-stage system has one speed and a two-stage has two, how many speed settings will a variable system have? I cannot give you a definitive answer to that question. The number of speed settings depends on the product, but variable systems can generally make small adjustments to run at a level that suits your needs. For example, let’s say it is not an overly humid day and the compressor only needs to run at 10% to satisfy the thermostat; then that is all it will use. Now, if the compressor has not satisfied the thermostat within a set amount of time, it will ramp up to the next step and keep doing this as needed until it satisfies the thermostat. While you may see longer run times, the fact that the compressor is not running at full capacity will save you on your bill.

If installing a new system is not in your budget but you would still like to get the most out of your system, I would suggest installing a new Wi-Fi thermostat. If your home cools and heats sufficiently, this can be a great option. These thermostats allow you to set a schedule and check run times, or if you’re like me, make sure that your daughters have not turned the temperature up or down periodically throughout the day. Rebates for thermostats have gotten a lot “cooler,” too. If you purchase a qualifying thermostat as of Jan. 1, 2023, you might be eligible for a $45 rebate per thermostat. In addition, if you enroll that thermostat in the demand response program, you will receive an additional $50 for signing up for the program, with a $25 yearly credit for being in the program. The demand response program works like the current water heater and irrigation program. If FCREMC is asked to “shed load,” your thermostats will be used to keep your air conditioning from coming on during that time. Unlike the traditional program, the thermostat will only let your home get so warm before it turns your unit back on.

If you have any questions about air conditioning systems, or how to enroll in the thermostat demand response program, please do not hesitate to contact me.