Why it’s time to make your AC smart [and how to DIY]
Nobody wishes to dump their old air conditioner if they don’t need to.
Reusing older household items is a sure-fire way to maximize household budgets. Yet, to make even further long-term savings, many US homes are now upgrading to more energy and cost-efficient smart air conditioning.
However, let’s examine the reasons why it’s time to make your AC smart when your AC unit is perfectly functional.
- What are SEER ratings?
- How smart AC boosts your bank balance
- Long-term Smart AC options
- More affordable, quicker Smart AC solutions
SEER Ratings – and why they matter
The amount of money and energy you’ll save by making a transition to automated air conditioning is shocking. Old and antiquated air conditioners use a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating of 10 or under, while today’s more efficient air conditioning systems have SEER ratings way over that.
Window units are exempt from this particular law. It’s odd really, while the SEER rating is located on a yellow and black EnergyGuide sticker attached to the outside of the air conditioner, very few people seem to pay attention to it or care, and in the process throw away hundreds of dollars.
Environmentalists aside, most individuals have not taken much attention to SEER ratings until they realized how much more they were spending on inefficient AC.
Saving money to spend elsewhere
The costs of cooling homes in the height of summer are enough to make anyone sweat if money is tight. Lowering your air conditioner’s thermostat setting to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home, yet setting it to a higher temperature while you’re out of the house can save 5 to 15 percent on your energy bills.
Increasing the temperature setting on your thermostat when out is one way of reducing your energy and air conditioning costs. Although doing this manually each day can be monotonous, not to mention a homeowners likelihood of forgetting to do it.
Another issue is AC efficiency.
Air conditioning efficiency is primarily a function of the technology used. Those more efficient air conditioners allow users to easily keep their filters clean; allowing for greater air movement and enabling the condensation to drain correctly.
Inefficient AC units are known for their complexity in cleaning, and this feature alone is how a SEER rating is assigned. The lower the SEER rating, the more inefficient the air conditioning unit.
For example, assume that your current air conditioning system had a SEER rating of only nine. Should you move to a SEER air conditioner rated at 13 or higher, then the energy power consumption would reduce by around 28%. If you went from nine to a SEER of 16, you would improve your air conditioner efficiency by 49%. Now that’s even more impressive!
This is equivalent to over $600 a year depending on a households AC usage. Older models compared to newer models can save up to $1,000.
Does changing my AC unit actually save me money?
A newer air conditioning unit will naturally be more energy efficient, especially if you have one of a SEER rating of 20 or more. Coupled with fewer repair calls, parts, and emergency service calls, your savings can increment faster than you might think for a piece of machinery that should last thirty years.
In addition to saving money, include improved airflow and healthier air. A new system can do a better job than an older unit of controlling dirt, dust, pollen, and other common debris and airborne pathogens that nobody wants to inhale.
Think about your current AC unit and consider the following:
- How often does your AC unit need maintaining and fixes from a repair technician?
- How high are your utility bills?
If both of those numbers are higher than you think they should be, then you should definitely consider replacing your AC with some another solution of cooling/heating your home.
Bigger investment, more savings
Built-in fans that are Wi-Fi-enabled are considered a smart solution to control air circulation within your home.
Wi-Fi–Enabled Fans can be used for air circulation both during the winter and summer months. During hot summer months, you want cool air to flow freely in your home. When fans circulate cool air, this cool air movement increases the efficiency of home air conditioning units. During the colder winter months Wi-Fi–enabled fans to distribute heat throughout your home’s living spaces.
Even if there are standard fans in a home, homeowners can upgrade them so that they are operated via a smartphone app for greater convenience and more accurate temperatures.
Indoor Air Quality Sensors
Indoor air quality sensors are becoming more widespread in smart homes, aiding users and their families to live and breathe in a healthy, non-pollutant environment.
Air quality sensors provide users with sufficient data about distinct types of pollutants in the house’s air, providing readings in parts per million for particulates including allergens. By reviewing this data, users can obtain insights into when they need to change in their HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system’s air filters. Today, several indoor air quality sensors include a tracking feature that permits users to monitor changes in air quality over a period of time.
The data is invaluable when there are children in the family home. Homes that suffer from harmful indoor air quality could contribute to several respiratory problems in children. Compact air quality sensors can be an excellent upgrade for the house when you’re concerned about keeping asthma and other airborne allergies in check.
Indoor air quality sensors can point to a range of issues in your home. They can help you control problems with dust in the house, but they can also work to help you detect bacteria, pollen, or viruses. According to the American Lung Association, indoor air can be even more polluted than outdoor air.
Motion-Activated Air Conditioning
Motion-activated air conditioning is a new phenomenon for homeowners and still relatively new. This cutting-edge technology takes air conditioning efficiency to another level. The technology requires the installation of motion sensors in the home.
When these sensors detect movement, they send a signal to the air conditioner to cool the living spaces if required. When no motion is detected, a message is sent to adjust the system accordingly, thus preserving energy and dollars in the process. Installation of motion-activated air conditioning can be done reasonably quickly with the aid of a top professional.
What’s more, these sensors come with additional benefits including the following:
- Automated air conditioner operations
- Reduced energy costs
- Reduced strain on your home’s HVAC equipment (thus requiring lesser maintenance costs)
- Greener approach with energy-saving technologies
Geothermal Heat Pumps
The geothermal heat pump is fast-becoming more recognizable for its use within cooling and heating systems. This technology is nothing new; being around for a few years now yet it is gaining notoriety for those wishing to make their homes more environmentally sustainable.
geothermal heat pumps primarily draw heat from the earth’s underground heat reserves and carries it into your home.
Since the earth has a consistent underground temperature, the system uses this thermal energy as a resource for heating and cooling the home, without depleting the earth’s thermal energy.
However, collecting the heat from underneath the earth’s surface is an intricate process, yet it can be done.
The benefit of geothermal heat pumps isn’t restricted to winter heating. The pumps can push hot air from the indoors to the ground via a heat exchanger. However, they still require some additional electric or gas heating to provide cooling or heating power. The technology is improving rapidly as more consumers prefer geothermal heating because of how it drastically offsets energy bills.
Integrated home humidity dehumidifiers
For several areas of the US, living in a humid climate can impact indoor air quality. A quick and easy solution is to invest in buying a stand-alone dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers are essential for controlling humidity in the home, and smaller portable ones work perfectly well in smaller spaces. Although, unless you are going to buy one for every room, and turn them on and off accordingly, this can be both time-consuming and costly.
For bigger homes, it’s best to consider an integrated home humidity solution.
The dehumidifiers connect to a home’s HVAC system and are then utilized to achieve a consistent and constant indoor air quality in each room of the house. No longer will users experience a change in humidity levels per room or need to turn each one on or off.
Most integrated home humidity solutions offer users the ability to set their desired humidity levels through the HVAC thermostat, or through a smart device. As a result, users control the humidity in all the essential areas of their home by merely choosing a dedicated system with smartphone control, whether in summer or winter.
Affordable, quicker, and money-saving solutions
Smart AC Controllers
Most households probably have at least one sorry-looking air conditioning unit around the home. However, it can become time-consuming and irritating each time you want to turn them off and on.
Plugging the AC unit into a smart AC controller, homeowners can switch it on or off using Google Home or Alexa. Several smart plugs have their own app that users can use to control and manage their air conditioning with their home.
Smart AC controllers are for individuals who desire more control and flexibility to manage not only the air conditioning but energy costs, thanks to using Wi-Fi control. One difference is that they work brilliantly for split air conditioners plus the ugly looking window air conditioners. The majority of smart AC controllers have built-in humidity control.
Thus, this could be construed as the most straightforward solution for households that have portable or standard window air conditioning units. Cielo’s own Smart Air Conditioning Controller empowers users to do the following:
- Turning your air conditioning ON or OFF with a tap on your phone from your location
- Change your temperature, mode, fan speed or swing position when on the go
- Monitor and manage your home environment from anywhere.
- Get real-time statuses of your room’s actual and preferred room temperatures & humidity levels
Smart thermostats not only offer users more convenience, comfort, and savings; they also provide homeowners with plenty of attractive and unique features.
Smart thermostats can remind users when they need to change their air filters and monitor their energy usage, reducing the temperature should this contravenes their household budgets. They have some beautifully customizable interfaces and even contain system diagnostic information.
These modern smart thermostats blow traditional thermostats out of the water concerning their usefulness and overall functionality. They are built with the following features:
- Scheduled timing to control and optimize air conditioning or heat pumps
- Location-based AC control that activates the air conditioner functions based on your current location. (Known as geo-fencing)
- Filters poor quality air by monitoring the air filter
- One-touch dashboard functionality
Geo-fencing is a method to control your smart thermostat based on the homeowner’s location. For example, when a user travels 5 miles away from their home, a signal will be sent to the smart thermostat to change set points and save energy. The smart thermostat could lower or increase dependant on its instructions.
When the homeowner returns to their home and reaches within 5 miles from their home, the smart thermostat will be set back to the temperature they had selected before they left, drastically reducing energy costs but managing a temperature perfect for the home once the person gets back.
If you have a busy lifestyle with no set schedule, geofencing grants homeowners greater flexibility and efficiency when heating and cooling their homes without needing to adjust their thermostats manually.
Those with a predictable day-to-day or week-to-week schedule will prefer a scheduling feature that better matches their lifestyle.
Smart Home Technologies
Aside from air conditioning and heating, homeowners are increasingly controlling other areas of their homes from their smartphones.
Integrating these systems into a single control panel can shave minutes of time off your day. By connecting the home’s lighting, entertainment heating and cooling systems, and security systems directly to a smartphone, users can adjust all devices from within their home at a simple touch of a button. Users simply need to decide which hardware they prefer to use:
- Amazon’s Alexa: Echo Dot, Echo, and Echo Show
- Google’s Assistant: Google Home, Newer Android Smartphones
- Apple’s Siri: iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch
The cost will likely determine a factor in which hardware users purchase, along with the need for a solid set of speakers.
Then, the fun begins. With the virtual assistant users can set up their home a number of ways to make it “smarter.”
Automation technology plays a critical role in promoting a home’s heating and cooling efficiency. With smart automation, homeowners can easily adjust temperature settings in different parts of their home throughout the day via their smart thermostat.
Consider a situation where you work all day, but wish to return home to a perfect-temperature house.
Previously, you would have had to leave the air conditioner on throughout the day to ensure that your home was fresh and relaxed by the time you got home. With home automation technology and a smart thermostat, now the air conditioner is off when no one is at home but on when you arrive, boosting an idyllic home environment and your bank balance.
So, there are a plethora of reasons to consider converting your old air conditioner into a smart one. It is really up to you and is primarily determined by what you are trying to accomplish at the end of the day.
Can you do this yourself? Absolutely you can.
Technology is making heating and cooling more efficient, simpler, and, in some cases, faster. Wi-Fi–enabled devices and smart sensors are now part of an intelligent home design that boosts your home’s energy efficiency.
Realistically, most consumers can get away with plugging into a smart AC controller, and that solves the problem. It varies on how much control homeowners want to have over their AC unit and how much they wish to save in the long-term.