When buying an air conditioning unit or a heat pump (Quick Read: AIR CONDITIONING VS HEATPUMP: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?) it’s good to avoid the power hungry ones. So what type of air conditioner or heat pump unit is the most energy efficient?
Energy efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps is the ratio of cooling capacity (in kW) to the electrical power input (In kW). In other words, how much cooling do you get for every kW of power that the system uses. The measure that is commonly used for cooling efficiency is the energy efficiency ratio (EER). The EER is represented as a number, for example 3.02. This means that for every kW of power the system uses, it will produce 3.02 kW of cooling.
We must keep in mind that the EER is not a fixed ratio. Manufacturers calculate the EER of each unit in a laboratory where they use a fixed indoor and outdoor temperature. So, based on this, the EER of a unit can change if the indoor or outdoor temperature changes. For example, an air conditioning or heat pump unit becomes less efficient on a hotter day.
In 2021, the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) introduced a new rating system in New Zealand for air conditioners called Zoned Energy Rating Label (ZERL). This rating system considers the differences in climates of different countries when calculating energy efficiency.
Unfortunately, New Zealand is labelled as one zone: COLD. This obviously doesn’t help us much when we are comparing how a unit performs in Dunedin vs Auckland.
However, the Gen Less Appliance calculator splits NZ up into different climate regions, so you can see how an air conditioning or heat pump unit will perform where you live.
When purchasing an air conditioning or heat pump unit, it’s also important to ensure that the unit is ‘sized’ correctly. This simply means that you have the right capacity air conditioner for the space you are cooling. If you purchase a unit that is too small for the space you are cooling, then it will consume more energy than it should to try and cool the space.
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