Frequently Asked Questions about Air Conditioners

It can be hard to find answers to your air conditioning questions when every company has their own agenda. We want to make sure you have access to all the information you need to ensure you get exactly what you’re looking for, in equipment and information. We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions across the board in an attempt to get you that information in a concise and accessible manner. We try to be thoughtful like that.


How does an air conditioner work?

Air conditioners perform two basic functions: heat removal and moisture removal. We’ve all felt uncomfortable simply because of the humidity. Air conditioners remove that moisture while also removing the heat from the space. As your warm indoor air is drawn up through the filter, it passes over a very cold coil. The coil removes the heat and moisture. This is why there’s usually a puddle, or at the very least, a PVC pipe that hangs from your roof that drips water. It’s the moisture leaving your space.

How do I maximize my air conditioner’s energy efficiency?

There are several ways to increase the efficiency of your air conditioner. Make sure to leave all air vents unblocked. This will keep your air conditioner from working harder than it needs to. You should also do regular maintenance on your system to ensure it’s working properly. Using ceiling fans to help keep rooms feeling cooler so you can comfortably turn up your thermostat is helpful as well.


How long will my air conditioner last?

Good air conditioners can last as long as 15 years if they have proper maintenance. Average air conditioners can develop problems after 7-10 years if they’re neglected. If you want to get the most out of your new system, check your filters monthly and replace them as needed. Make sure to keep the outdoor unit clean and free of debris and shade the unit during the hottest parts of the day. Simple and easy maintenance can greatly lengthen the life of your air conditioner.

What do air conditioner ratings mean?

If you’re considering installing a new air conditioning unit, you’ve probably run across many rating acronyms that might as well be in Latin for as well as you can understand them. Those acronyms are important though so here’s a quick rundown:

  • EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a measurement of the cooling output of an air conditioner divided by its energy usage. These are calculated under specific test conditions that represent peak load. A higher number means a more energy efficient system.
  • SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures the efficiency of cooling equipment, calculated based on a seasonal average instead of at specific laboratory conditions. A higher SEER rating means the system is more energy efficient.
  • HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) measures the efficiency of the system’s heat pump. Again, the higher the number, the more efficient the unit.


Is it more energy efficient for the air conditioner to come on for short bursts of cooling or to stay on for long periods of time?

A heat pump’s job is two-fold. Not only does it remove the heat from your home, it must also remove the moisture from the inside air in order for you to feel comfortable. When the unit first turns on, it will take about 7-10 minutes to get to its peak efficiency and remove the moisture from your home. By only allowing a unit to run 5-7 minutes, you’re not getting the most out of the system. The starting and stopping is also hard on the system.

It’s a lot of information to process but hopefully you have a better understanding of air conditioners and you feel less overwhelmed. There are definitely more questions out there but the best bet is to ask your trusted HVAC company.