Selecting the right residential air conditioner can be a challenge with so many different models on the market, not to mention the myriad of innovative technologies being constantly introduced to improve efficiency and performance.
Fortunately, the Federal Government has established a number of basic requirements that all residential air conditioners must adhere to, and they all now come bearing a enery rating label that offers some indication of their efficiency and their various capabilities beyond just cooling.
Energy Rating Labels
The Star Rating given under the Federal Government’s energy rating system is considered the most obvious indication of how efficient an air conditioner is - the greater the number of stars the higher the efficiency (10 stars being the highest). This allows consumers to easily compare the energy efficiency of air conditioners on a fair and equitable basis, while providing incentive for manufacturers to improve the energy performance of appliances.
Energy efficiency labels on air conditioners are required to display:
Demand Response Modes
- The brand and model name of the unit
- Star rating (measured under Australian Standards which define test procedures for measuring energy consumption and minimum energy performance criteria)
- Power input (how much power the air conditioner consumes under a standard set of conditions)
- Capacity output (the cooling capacity of the unit under a standard set of conditions)
- Input and output data (if the unit is a reverse cycle air conditioner)
- Variable output compressor (indicates whether or not the air conditioner uses an inverter for extra efficiency)
Reverse cycle air conditioner energy efficiency labels must now list the 'Demand Response Modes' that the system is capable of, particularly useful for maintaining consistent operation as it allows the power company to send a signal to your smart meter to control how your air conditioner operates.
The demand response modes are:
- Mode 1 - turn the compressor off
- Mode 2 - restrict operation to less than or equal to 50% of rated heating or cooling capacity
- Mode 3 - restrict operation to less than or equal to 75% of rated heating or cooling capacity
Demand response capabilities also allow the meter to automatically limit the air conditioner's energy usage based on electricity prices; particularly beneficial if your electricity supply is regulated based on peak and non-peak rates. Unfortunately, these modes are currently only a voluntary measure for Australian manufacturers.
MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standards)
MEPS is a regulatory standard for power usage of a product while in Standby mode. It is a powerful tool used by the Federal Government to ensure that only the most efficient air conditioners are on the market. All air conditioners that have been made in or imported to Australia since 1987 are subject to MEPS.