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Living in a Hot Zone? Here Are 9 of the Most Energy Efficient AC Units to Keep You Cool

By HOM Editor
August 2020

As we approach the warmer months, our homes are heating up along with the outdoors. Whether you’re well-acquainted with high temperatures all year long or you only get a few months of unbearable heat, having an affordable, energy-efficient AC unit will bring you more comfort than you could have ever imagined. There is really no price tag for your comfort, but the more energy-efficient the unit is, the more money you’ll save in the long run while supporting the environment.

When scouting for a new AC, keep your eye on the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) if you’re in the market for a split unit, as this will predict how much it will cost to operate the unit. When it comes to window mounted air conditioners, look at the EER (energy efficiency ratio). The higher the ratings, the more money you’ll save on your next electricity bill.

Once you’ve done some homework (like reading this nifty article), get ready to cool down, because here are 9 of the most energy and cost-efficient AC units on the market today.

1. Lennox XC25

With an efficiency rating that is twice the minimum requirement — 26 SEER — this unit has the lowest running cost on this list. If you take a look at your current AC unit and see that it is lower than 15 SEER, you could lower your operating charges by up to 60% by switching to a model such as the Lennox XC25. You’ll likely see this split system central air conditioner model on many lists, such as PickHvac’s list of Top 10 Most Efficient Central Air Conditioners 2020, considering this model is arguably the best in terms of quality and efficiency. Another huge draw to the XC25 is that it reduces the need for energy generated by coal-fired plants by using solar power.

Not only is solar an extremely promising renewable energy source for the future of the environment, but there are benefits for your wallet as well. If you’ve installed solar in your home, you’ll qualify for a 30% federal tax credit. While solar equipment used to be on the more expensive end, it has become increasingly more affordable over the years as new products have been introduced alongside the traditional solar panels.

2. Pioneer Mini-Split Heatpump Air Conditioner

This mini-split air conditioner has a 12,000 BTU output which will cool down a room of up to 450 square feet, making it an excellent option for a large bedroom, living area, or even a studio space that isn’t reachable by your central air system. While this smaller ductless air conditioner has a lower SEER of 19, it still has an estimated yearly running cost of only $86. The inside unit doesn’t need its own breaker or circuit, making it very easy to install. The outdoor unit is a variable speed DC inverter compressor, which, in other words, is what allows this model to be extremely efficient. The DC inverter compressor powers on and off as cooling is needed, which keeps the machine from overworking at unnecessary times and hiking up your utility bill. It also has a sleep mode, which increases or decreases the temperature by 2°F every hour for the first two hours and then regulates a steady temperature for the next five hours before shutting off. This feature is both energy efficient and makes for a cozy evening of sleep.

Aside from being a reliable machine, this model is also attractive to the eye with a simple design, digital temperature display, and an easy to use LCD remote control so there is no need to grab a stool to reach the power button. This is also a great choice for a room designated to peace and quiet, as it has a nearly undetectable quiet operation with a dBA of 55. Lastly, this unit doubles as a heater when the outdoor temperatures decrease. If you’re hunting for a unit for your summer home and typically aren’t around once the temperature drops, this unit will slip into “unoccupied vacation mode”, maintaining an indoor temperature of 46°F.

3. Homelabs Window Mounted Air Conditioner

If you’re looking for window units as opposed to central air systems, this Homelabs 5,000 BTU window-mounted air conditioner is an extremely energy efficient and affordable option. This is a top-notch choice if you live in a smaller home, an area that doesn’t typically experience higher temperatures, or you’re simply looking for an option for a smaller, windowed room of up to 150 square feet. While it may be smaller, it sure is mighty. It has shorter depth than your typical window unit — about 15 inches — making it a logical alternative for a smaller apartment or condo. This unit will cool down an area of that size as quickly as 15 minutes, not to mention it has an 11.1 EER – just under the 12 benchmark of a very good energy efficiency rating – and has an estimated yearly energy cost of only $41..

You won’t need to stress over a lengthy installment process here, as all you need is a window and a standard 3-prong outlet. While this price point is much friendlier than other larger central air conditioning systems, that does mean sacrificing some beneficial features. This model has a standard manual turn dial with temperature settings between 1 and 7, 1 being the coldest and 7 being the hottest and the additional fan function also has 4 cooling options. You may forget the lack of luxuries with this unit once you consider the maintenance costs, which are essentially zero if you keep up with cleaning the reusable eco-filter.

4. Senville Energy Star Mini-Split Air Conditioner

This 24,000 BTU air conditioner will cool down a room up to 1,500 square feet, allowing it to be a great option for a much larger, open space. With only one air conditioner unit, you could potentially cool down your entire home! With a SEER of 20.50, it is certainly an energy efficient option, so while it will cost you a pretty penny initially, you’ll be saving money as a whole when you break down your utility bills. The indoor unit is connected to the outside unit and doesn’t need to be hooked up to its own circuit or breaker, making the inside unit much more pleasing to look at. The polished appearance of the indoor unit has a digital display, cooling and heating options, and whisper technology with a DPA of 47.5.

The outdoor condenser features Energy Star technology, meaning this product has met the strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Similar to other units of this caliber, the Senville Energy Star’s condenser will only cool the area when needed to avoid the unit from overworking. To top it all off, this model has a remote control with a variety of features including “Follow Me”, which allows the temperature of the air to be read by the remote’s sensor, as opposed to the air surrounding the unit itself. This ensures your house is set to the most ideal temperature based on where you are in your home.

5. Amana AMAP050BW

This 5,000 BTU window-mounted AC unit can keep a room up to 150 square feet nice and cool, making it a pristine option for a small windowed room or somewhere out of reach from your central cooling system. Here we have another extremely affordable smaller option with a yearly running cost of the price of a small fan — around $45! This unit is Energy Star certified with an EER of 11.1. This Amana unit even works as a dehumidifier in addition to a cooling unit, with the possibility of removing up to 1 pint of water every hour. The multiple cooling modes use less energy than units of this size typically do, and you’ll see that when you take a look at your first utility bill after purchasing this model. If it’s not a significantly hot day, you can set the Amana to the ‘low fan’ mode which will slowly reduce the air temperature with no concern for a surging electricity bill.

For a window-mounted option, this unit has a handful of beneficial features. If something goes awry and your home loses power, the Amana will restart flawlessly once the power has returned. The unit also has 8-way directional air louvers to ensure not a single nook or cranny misses a cool breeze. With an insanely easy installation process, you’ll have this unit set up and cooling down your day in no time. You’ll likely never have to worry about any repairs considering how easy it is to keep up with this AC’s maintenance by rinsing the removable air filter every few weeks, or as soon as the “clean filter” light pops up alerting you it’s time for a quick clean.

6. Friedrich Chill CP06G10B

 The Friedrich Chill made The Spruce’s list of The 9 Best Air Conditioners of 2020, being named the best window unit for small spaces, and with good reason. This unit has a 6,000 BTU rating, can cool down a room of up to 250 square feet, has an 11.2 EER, and is Energy Star qualified, so it is most certainly checking all the boxes. This is not the unit you likely had delicately balanced in your window back in college but is an updated and efficient version that will fool others into thinking you dished out much more money than you did. The easy installation kit even allows you to use the AC through a wall, as opposed to just in the window. This is a game-changer if you have a smaller windowless room in desperate need of an air conditioner.

It has a digital thermostat, a 24-hour timer, an auto-restart function, multiple cooling speeds, and an ‘auto air’ mode which maximizes circulation and air movement to allow the cool air to move freely throughout your home. It is rather bulky, at 60 lbs., but it is worth the extra arm strength to get this unit installed and from then on out you can use the digital remote to adjust the settings from your couch.

7. LG LW8016ER

This is a high-powered window-mounted unit, with an 8,000 BTU rating. As HVAC tech Bob of Hvac Training 101 claims, this unit is “a small step behind the Friedrich Chill in efficiency, but only a very small step.” One con of a window-mounted AC unit is the potential for musty odors to creep their way in through your open window. This special LG unit has the option to close the outside vent which eliminates that concern, and seals cooled air inside with its extra side panels. With an easy to use control panel on the unit itself, as well as a remote control, you’re able to set the temperature to your desire no matter where you’re relaxing in your home.

This AC with a 12.1 EER takes energy efficiency to a whole new level as it continues working during times when utility companies lower the rate of provided power due to high outdoor temperatures, also known as “brownout” power periods. You’ll stay cool and comfortable all season long with this unit’s quiet but strong cooling capacity and the fan blowing power.

8. Frigidaire FFRE0533S1

This Frigidaire unit is another great option for a smaller room as it has 5,000 BTU and is on the lighter side at around 40 lbs., making it easy and manageable for one person to install. Your life will not only be cooler but also much easier with a timer setting that you can set ahead of time to begin cooling your home as soon as you wake up or while you’re on your way home from work. The fan setting also alerts you of the temperature in your room in real-time, so there will be no question when it comes to adjusting your settings.

An additional energy efficiency bonus is this unit’s “econ” mode, which will turn the machine off whenever it reaches a certain comfortable temperature, so in turn, it will effectively cool down your room while saving you money. If you’re a fan of very cold temperatures and prefer to let your machine continue running through the night without cycling off, you can simply shut this feature off as it is optional. All of these energy efficient bonuses really add up, as the yearly estimated running costs of this particular unit are only $37 which is no surprise considering the 12.2 EER.

9. Koldfront WAC12002WCO

 This compact window air unit may be the most energy efficient option on this list, if not in the entire market. The Koldfront only uses 1000 watts, has an EER of 10.8, and as HVAC expert Bob explains, “If you kept it running continuously for an entire month straight it would still cost you less than $100 in energy bill increases, making it actually cheaper than a central air conditioning system.” This model goes above and beyond with 12,000 BTU (the most BTU any standard outlet can accept). It also has a quick cooling ability and can chill a room down within 30 minutes and an entire house within an hour or so.

This AC’s ability to seal in cool air while not pulling in any hot air from outside makes this unit a home run. This is essentially the most powerful option before a central air system, so if you’re looking for a rather quiet, easy to install option without having to invest in 230V outlets, this Koldfront is the ideal AC for you.

If you’re someone who has struggled with the heat in the past, you’re well aware of the discomfort that summer heat and humidity can bring into your home. As a new homeowner, the last thing you want in your new house is any displeasure! While pondering an additional hefty priced appliance, it’s important to factor in the energy efficiency of the unit you have your eye on to make sure you’re not piling too much on top of your pre-existing bills.

If you are dealing with hot temperatures for months at a time, a great AC model is a beneficial investment. In addition to focusing on energy efficiency, look into the durability, features, and compact size.

Be sure to remember that you can’t put a price on your happiness, especially in your own home.


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