Updated: Jun 24
The summer months in the Philippines have become hotter and hotter in the recent years. And because of this, our electrical consumption due to the increased use of electric fans and air-conditioners skyrocket during this time. This is a problem for us since our electricity rates are very high. In fact, it is so high that we are basically paying the highest electricity rates in all of Asia. Therefore, it is only natural for us to look for ways to be able to save up on our consumption and monthly electric bills.
For those people that are actively looking for such ways, you may have heard or read on the internet about inverter air conditioners and how they can be much more efficient in terms of its energy consumption. But before jumping on the bandwagon, you should first educate yourself about this new technology and know the tips and tricks on how to use it effectively to maximize the benefits that you can get from it.
First things first, how do air conditioners work?
An air conditioner is an electrical device that simply collects hot air, or the heat, from a room and replaces it with cold air to cool the room. In essence, an air conditioner works exactly like your refrigerator, which takes in the heat from inside and releases it to the metal grid at the back. The only difference is that with an air conditioner, the heat is released outside the room. Also, it has fans on both of its sides (inside and outside the room) to allow for a faster air circulation and thus, faster cooling.
Here are the details and the step by step process on how this works:
Hot air is collected from the room by sucking it through the inlet of the air conditioner, which is usually located at its base.
This hot air then flows through the chiller pipes. In here, a coolant fluid is circulating to absorb the heat from the air and cool it. This now cooler air then goes to a dehumidifier to remove its moisture content.
The cooler air is then blasted back into the room by a fan. This eventually cools down the room.
Remember the coolant fluid that absorbed the heat from the air? When it absorbs heat, it evaporates and turns into a hot gas. This hot gas then flows to release its heat outside the room. After this, it goes to the condensing pipes and turns into a liquid again. The cycle repeats. The air conditioner’s compressor unit is the one that is responsible for regulating the flow of the coolant fluid and thus, the speed of cooling.
Beside the compressor unit are metal plates that dissipates the heat to the outside atmosphere. A fan is also used to speed up this process.
What is the Difference Between Inverter and Non-inverter Type Air Conditioners?
Regular, non-inverter type air conditioners, have a compressor motor that can only run at a fixed speed. And since it is the compressor that regulates the flow of the coolant and thus the speed of cooling, it can only cool the room at only one speed. When the desired room temperature is reached, the compressor turns off. It then waits for the temperature to increase again and when this happens, it runs again at full speed. The compressor works at its maximum power all the time, which is why non-inverter type air conditioners are less efficient and thus, consumes more energy.
On the other hand, an inverter air conditioner has a variable speed compressor, which allows it to control the speed in which the coolant flows and therefore, the speed of cooling, depending on the requirement. For example, if the room is not that hot, the variable speed compressor can work not as hard compared to if the room is very hot. Because of this, inverter air conditioners are more energy efficient while also producing less noise than its non-inverter counterparts.
How Much Can I Save By Using a Non-Inverter Type Air Conditioner?
A study was conducted in 2018 to compare the energy consumption of constant and variable speed (basically non-inverter and inverter type) air conditioners. Since the outdoor environment can also be a determining factor, the study was conducted in two different climates, particularly in the perpetually hot climate of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the Korean climate, which has temperature changes across four seasons.
The results of the study have indeed confirmed that a variable speed (inverter) air conditioner is more energy efficient than a constant speed (non-inverter) air conditioner, even in the hot Saudi Arabian climate. 18.3% to 47.1% of energy savings were observed during the cooling months of Riyadh (March to November) and 36.3% to 51.7% during the cooling months in Seoul (June to September). These numbers increase even more before and after the peak summer in each climate.
Commercially-available inverter type air conditioners vary in terms of how much savings they say that their product can give. Some brands claim 30% energy savings while some even claim as much as 60% energy savings. However, take note that this will vary depending on many factors, which include the size of your room and your usage patterns. With that being said, it is still best to observe certain tips and practices when it comes to using an inverter type air conditioner to maximize your energy savings. Some of these are listed below:
Tips in Choosing an Air Conditioner
Choose the right size of air conditioner for the room where it will be placed – calculating the size of air conditioner that is best for your room is very important. Installing an air conditioner that is too small or too big will cause it to be over and under-utilized, which will then lead to inefficiencies and a higher energy consumption. For a more exact calculation, you can refer to the manufacturer’s website if they have online calculators that you can use. If they don’t have, you can use other air conditioner sizing calculators instead. Just take note that if the calculator uses btu/hr as the size of the air conditioner, you can easily convert this to horsepower (hp) by dividing by 2,544.43.
Compare the energy efficiency ratios or EER – the EER of an appliance gives consumers an idea of how efficient it is in terms of its energy consumption. More specifically, the EER is the ratio of an air conditioner’s cooling capacity to its power consumption. The higher the EER, the less energy that an air conditioner will need to acheve the same cooling effect. The EER can be found on the yellow card that is called the Energy Guide Label. It is attached to the air conditioner and shows the EER value of that specific air conditioner. Aside from the EER, the energy guide label also shows a sample computation of the estimated monthly cost of using the air conditioner. Also take note of this value as it can give you an idea of the additional costs that you will pay for using your air conditioner.
Tips in Using Your Air Conditioner
Ensure to enclose the room with your air conditioner – open doors and windows allow the cold air to leak outside and the hotter air from outside to go in. When this happens, your air conditioner will have a harder time in cooling your room, which will translate to a higher energy consumption.
Don’t set a temperature that is much lower than the outside temperature – the higher the difference between the set temperature and the outside temperature, the more energy that your air conditioner will consume. This is why it is not advisable to set the thermostat too low during noontime, when the outside temperature is usually at its highest. Set the thermostat to a not too cool but still comfortable temperature at noontime. You can then set it to a colder temperature at night.
If you want to cool your room faster, use an electric fan together with your air conditioner – using electric fans together with your air conditioner allows the air to circulate better, which allows for faster cooling of the room.
Minimize the heat generated inside the room – other appliances that are used inside the room add heat, which requires your air conditioner to work harder and consume more energy. You can minimize this effect by using energy-efficient appliances, especially with the lighting.
You Can Do Much More
If you are really committed to saving energy from your monthly electric bills and you want to do more for our environment, another great thing that you can do is installing solar panels on your home. With solar panels, you will be able to produce energy on your unused rooftop, which can greatly help in reducing your electricity demand. If you want to learn more about solar energy systems and you want to know how much you can save from your monthly electric bills, you can contact Andal Solar on this link.
Engr. Jet Andal has 6 years of experience in the design and installation of residential, commercial and utility-scale solar PV systems. Together, and with the use of solar energy, let us help make the world a better place. You can click here to read all of our other blogs. For aspiring solar PV engineers, you can also check out his Solar PV Engineering Ebook on Amazon on this link.