Renewable energy sources and energy efficiency are key players in green energy. When you draw electricity, that power has to be generated in ways that often impact the environment. A hydropower plant blocks streams and can make it harder for certain types of fish to go upstream for breeding. Coal-powered energy is dirty and causes pollution.
While electricity is necessary, there are friendly ways to produce it. And, it’s an important consideration when you’re drawing electricity for your Southern Florida central air conditioning system. Have you considered the benefits of pairing an AC installation and solar power?
The Value of Solar Panels
U.S. Climate Data reports that Miami gets 2,903 hours of sun per year. Each hour of sunshine is a channel for solar power. One solar power can produce upwards of 0.4 kWh each hour. After 10 hours, that’s as much as 4 kWh for just one solar panel. If you have 20 on your roof, that’s about 80 kWh.
The actual production depends on how many panels you have and their production capacity. You may not have enough to power your entire home, but every kWh that’s produced lessens the amount of electricity you draw from the grid. The sun’s always going to shine, so using it to produce power is beneficial for everyone.
How Is the Sun Turned Into Electricity?
How does a solar panel turn sunshine into energy? Solar panels are made of several layers. There’s a junction box at the bottom, which is followed by a plastic back sheet and the first layer of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) encapsulant. The silicon solar cells are between the two EVA layers, and that’s topped with tempered glass. All of that fits into an aluminum frame.
The solar cells are all soldered together with metal connections. A standard solar panel has 60 cells and commercial ones are typically 72 cells. This connects to wiring that’s protected in the junction box where it prevents electricity from flowing back to the panels when there’s no solar production at night.
When it’s sunny, the sun’s rays activate the electrons within the silicon cells. This photovoltaic energy is a direct current (DC) and goes into the wiring that connects to an inverter. Within the inverter, the current is converted to AC, which is the electricity most people are familiar with. AC is the power you get when you plug an appliance in.
This AC energy is then used in the home or sent back to your power company’s grid for use by everyone if your solar panels are connected to the grid. In exchange, you get a credit on your electricity bill.
Trane is one of the leading companies specializing in solar air conditioning systems. Airfinity Solar is a solar-ready rooftop system that uses solar production on your rooftop to help power AC systems and other building electrics like appliances and lights. YORK’s Solar Supply is another option for home cooling and heating.
Energy-Efficient AC Systems Add to the Energy Savings
In addition to solar power, an efficient AC system is a greener option. The SEER ratings for efficiency changed to SEER2 in January 2023. Generally, the higher the SEER2 rating, the more efficient it is. The less electricity it uses. A higher SEER2 rating and solar power together drastically decrease the amount of energy you draw from the grid.
Suppose your current Florida AC system is a 3-ton with a SEER rating of 13. You’re spending about $1,400 each year on electricity. If you upgrade your system to a SEER2 rating of 18, your bill drops to about $960 a year. That’s a savings of around $600 a month. After 10 years, you’ve saved close to $4,400. The increased cost of the system pays for itself in the energy savings.
If you spent extra and upgraded your AC system to a SEER2 rating of 22, the new AC system would use about $790 per year in Miami, which adds even more to the savings. This is exactly why a higher SEER2 rating is to your benefit and helps the environment at the same time.
Add the savings you’re also getting with solar energy. You end up with a system that ends up saving you so much in energy costs that the system pays for itself over time. Plus, you’ll reduce greenhouse gases and help protect the environment for future generations.
Tips for Choosing a Green Air Conditioner
No AC system is completely eco-friendly. There are things you can do beyond the SEER2 rating. If you have an older AC system, it may still use refrigerants that are no longer acceptable. It’s fine when your AC system works, but if it starts leaking, it’s hazardous to the environment.
Refrigerants like R22 stopped production on January 1, 2020. The production and import of R22 became illegal at that point. You can recover it, reclaim it, and recycle it, but if you have a system that runs on R22, once your AC technician can no longer get hold of Freon, your system becomes difficult or costly to service. It’s a good time to talk about the benefits of replacing your old AC system with a newer, more efficient one.
Central AC systems aren’t designed to last forever. With the year-round use, a system gets in Miami, it’s really good if your system lasts 15 years. Don’t expect much more from that. Solar panels are not going to last more than 20 or 30 years, so they’ll eventually need replacing, too. Rebates and federal tax credits on solar energy and Energy Star air conditioning systems also help you save money on your green energy upgrades.
Make sure you keep your Southern Florida central AC system in top condition to keep it in excellent working order. If it’s working effectively, it’s going to keep your bills to a minimum. It’s when a system’s air filter is clogged or the vents and grates are clogged with fur, hair, dust, leaves, and other small particles that efficiency diminishes. Have your system cleaned and inspected regularly to make sure it’s working properly.
Another area that will increase energy consumption is if the coils get dirty. Dirty coils make it harder for the coolant to release hot and cold air. If it can’t release it, your home doesn’t cool properly so the system runs constantly. It wastes energy, which means your solar power isn’t doing much good. Have your system’s coils cleaned every few years by a professional AC technician if you can’t do it yourself.
All Year Cooling is an expert on the most efficient air conditioners for Miami homeowners. If you’re looking for effective ways to lower your energy bills and have a system that keeps your home cool and comfortable, All Year Cooling is ready to help. Give us a call or reach out through online chat to learn more.