An air conditioner has become more of a necessity in India rather than a luxury item. This is because of two main factors. One is that the summer months have become hotter. Secondly the easier availability of electric current enables people to maintain AC units in their homes. However, it is very important to save electricity because the bills can spiral if you do not exercise enough care.
Awareness is important
People today are more aware of the fact that cooling does consume a lot of electricity. Maintaining the AC unit well can help you reduce the consumption. Similarly, maintaining the temperature at the right levels helps to reduce consumption. Controlling the temperatures is the right thing to do. To understand the optimum temperature maintenance, you should have an idea about how the AC works.
Working of the AC
The air conditioner works on the simple process of using the indoor air, cooling it by passing through the evaporator coils and dispensing it back into the room. The air coolers work on a different principle. They take in the outside air, cool it with water and give out a cool blast of air.
The role of the thermostat
The thermostat has a very important role to play in the functioning of the AC. People have the wrong notion that setting the thermostat at a lower temperature helps in cooling the room faster. The thermostat has nothing to do with the cooling of the air. It performs the role of shutting off the compressor when the temperature reaches the desired level.
Let us take a simple example. In case you set the thermostat to 24 degrees, the compressor will stop working the moment the temperature reaches this level. It starts again once the temperature increases.
Once the compressor stops, the fans take over. The electricity consumption is reduced to a great extent. The thermostat detects if the temperature has increased. Once it does so, the compressor starts working again. Note that the compressor is the component that consumes the maximum electricity. Switching the compressor on and off at regular intervals saves you considerable amount of power.
Factors affecting electricity consumption of an AC
The following factors affect the electricity consumption of an AC unit.
- Indoor and outdoor temperature
- Insulation of the room
- Temperature setting of the thermostat
A lot depends on the difference in the temperature between the outdoor and indoor temperature. Higher the difference, the greater is the electricity consumption. Statistics show that a difference of one degree can result in a consumption of 3 to 5% of units. Hence, if the outdoor temperature is 36 degrees, setting the thermostat at 18 degrees will consume more electricity than if you set the thermostat to 24 degrees.
Ideal temperature setting
Experience shows that the ideal temperature setting is 24 degrees. This is the most comfortable you can get. At the same time, it saves you a lot of electricity as well. One of the time-tested ways of reducing the temperature is to use ceiling fans along with the air conditioners.
The Quick Cool Concept
Many people set the thermostat to a level of say 16 or 18 degrees using the Quick Cool concept. This entails that the compressor will stop working only when the temperature reaches the set temperature. In case you had set the temperature at 24 degrees, the compressor would have stopped much earlier thereby saving a lot of electricity in the bargain.
The olden day air conditioners
The thermostat is available in the present day AC units. In the olden days, there was no concept of thermostat. The compressor would stop and start functioning at fixed intervals. There was no temperature control. These AC units had a high, medium, and low option. That denoted the fan speed. Hence, setting the fan at a higher speed ensured that the air flow was greater.
Impact of thermostat on electricity consumption
The role of the thermostat is to control the temperature setting. It sets the temperature at which the compressor stops working. Once the room temperature increases over the set temperature, the compressor starts working again.
The same procedure continues thereby ensuring the temperature inside the room does not go below 24 degrees, if you had set the thermostat at that level. This is the most comfortable level that the human body can bear without any problem. By switching off the compressor at regular intervals, it ensures savings in electrical consumption.
The AC has the principal responsibility of cooling the room and making it comfortable. You have a responsibility of ensuring that the AC uses optimum electricity in the bargain. Setting the thermostat to the ideal temperature level of 24 degrees enables you to achieve both the objectives. Remember that saving power is equivalent to saving money.