How to Buy an Energy-Efficient Room Air Conditioner

How to Buy an Energy-Efficient Room Air Conditioner
Information about energy-efficient room air conditioners in this section includes the following:

Also provided is a portable document format version of How to Buy an Energy-Efficient Room Air Conditioner (). .

Product Typea and Cooling Capacityb
Recommended EERc
Best Available EERc

With louversd;
<20,000 Btu/hr
10.7 or more

With louvers;
;=20,000 Btu/hr
9.42 or more

Without louvers;
<8,000 Btu/hr
9.9 or more

Without louvers;
;=8,000 Btu/hr
9.4 or more

a Room air conditioning units with louvered sides are typically installed through windows. The louvered sides improve the energy performance of these units by enhancing airflow over the outdoor coil. Units intended for through-the-wall installation require a smooth-sided cabinet without louvers.
b Cooling capacity is the amount of cooling that can be provided by the unit (in Btu/hr) at standard rating conditions.
c EER, or Energy Efficiency Ratio, is equal to the measured cooling capacity of the unit (in Btu/hr) divided by its electrical input (in watts) at standard rating conditions. EER is based on DOE test procedure; see 10 CFR 430, Sub-part B, Appendix F.
d Currently there are no models that can meet this recommendation. When purchasing a product from this category we suggest you get one with the best available EER.
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10,000 Btu/hr Louvered

Base Modela
Recommended Level
Best Available

Energy Efficiency Ratio

Annual Energy Use
765 kWh
700 kWh
640 kWh

Annual Energy Cost

Lifetime Energy Costb

Lifetime Energy Cost Savings


a The efficiency (EER) of the base model is just sufficient to meet current U.S. DOE national appliance standards.
b Lifetime energy cost is the sum of the discounted value of annual energy costs based on average usage and an assumed air conditioner life of 15 years. Future electricity price trends and a discount rate of 3.4% are based on Federal guidelines (effective from April 2000 to March 2001).

Cost-Effectiveness Assumptions: Annual energy use in this example is based on the standard DOE test procedure for a louvered model with a cooling capacity of 10,000 Btu/hr. and 750 operating hours per year. The assumed electricity price is $0.06/kWh, the Federal average electricity price in the U.S. If any of these assumptions are different from your actual conditions, use the to estimate your costs more accurately.

Using the Cost-Effectiveness Table: In the example shown above, a room air conditioner with an EER of 10.7 is cost-effective if its purchase price is no more than $45 above the price of the base model. The best available model, with an EER of 11.7, is cost-effective if its price is no more than $90 above the price of the base model.

The Federal supply sources for room air conditioners are the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the General Services Administration (GSA). DLA's FED LOG purchasing software includes EERs of room air conditioners and highlights complying models. GSA sells room air conditioners through Schedule 41-I, as well as through its on-line shopping network, Look for products that meet the recommended efficiency levels.

When buying from a commercial source, choose models that qualify for the label, all of which meet the recommended levels. Some manufacturers and retailers display this label on complying models. Alternatively, look at the yellow "EnergyGuide" label to identify models with EERs that meet these efficiency recommendations. For a contractor-supplied air conditioner, specify an EER that meets the recommended level for that type and size.

Oversizing of air conditioners, besides raising purchase cost, will lead to excessive energy consumption and poor humidity removal due to excessive on-off cycling. The required air conditioner capacity should be determined based on the referenced ACCA or Consumer Reports calculation procedures (see ).

Many room air conditioners have remote controls or digital displays; these units also use standby power whenever they are plugged in, even if the air conditioner itself is "turned off." Federal policy requires agencies to buy products with low standby power, at or below 1 watt where feasible (see ).

Refrigerants with ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used many years ago in room air conditioners, but most equipment on the market today uses HCFC refrigerants, which have a much lower ozone-depleting effect; ask your supplier for information.

When retiring an air conditioner which contains CFCs or HCFCs, the Clean Air Act requires that the refrigerant be recovered prior to final disposal of the appliance. For compliance information, contact the EPA Stratospheric Ozone Information Hotline at (800) 296-1996.