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Air Conditioning, Central

Last Updated: 09/30/19

A central air conditioner is a product, which is powered by single phase electric current, air cooled, rated below 65,000 Btu per hour, not contained within the same cabinet as a furnace, the rated capacity of which is above 225,000 Btu per hour, and is a heat pump or a cooling unit only.

Product Details
  • Federal agencies are required to purchase products as designated or specified under this program
Procurement Info

Where to Buy

Life Cycle Cost Savings

Life Cycle Costing (LCC) aims to quantify the financial impact of a product over its entire life cycle to assist consumers in making decisions that will save them money over the long term.

For most applications, energy-efficient central air conditioning units have the lowest life-cycle cost. For example, EPA has estimated that an Energy Star-qualified residential type central air conditioning unit can save a typical user $1,780 in energy costs over the life of the unit, while avoiding 31,560 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

An efficient product is cost effective when the energy costs saved over the life of the product exceed the additional upfront cost (if any) of the more efficient model. Energy Star considers both upfront costs and lifetime energy cost savings when setting required efficiency levels. Federal purchasers can assume that Energy Star-qualified products are life-cycle cost effective.

To calculate life cycle cost savings, explore these tools:

  • On its Purchasing & Procurement page, Energy Star offers MS-Excel-based calculators to estimate how much money and energy you can save purchasing ENERGY STAR central air conditioning.
  • For life cycling costing on specific brand-name products, visit SFTool Product Search by clicking the green box at the top of this page. Once you have created an account, add a product to a project and open the project. The tool displays energy cost savings, adjusting for local utility rates, operating conditions, and the purchase price.
  • NREL’s Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator can help estimate the cost of electricity as an input for your lifecycle cost calculations, accounting for both cost escalation and discount rates.
Guiding Principles
Contributes to meeting The Guiding Principles for High Performance and Sustainable Buildings
Additional Guidance

Substitutes for ozone-depleting chemicals, as identified under the SNAP program, may be purchased with the product itself or separately.  In either case, federal agencies must procure and substitute safe alternatives for ozone-depleting substances to the maximum extent practicable.

The ENERGY STAR Most Efficient program identifies the most efficient products among those that qualify for the ENERGY STAR in particular product categories. Product categories were selected and recognition criteria were established to ensure that products that receive this recognition demonstrate efficiency performance that is truly exceptional, inspirational, or leading edge. There are Most Efficient criteria for central air conditioners. The following products are excluded in 2017:

Units that run on three-phase power.

Central Air Conditioner or Air-Source Heat Pump models rated for more than 65,000 Btu/h of cooling. This limit does not apply to GHPs.

Mini-splits, multi-splits and split ductless systems are eligible for ENERGY STAR Most Efficient in 2017 with different requirements.

Potential LEED Contributions

This product may contribute* toward points in multiple LEED v4 rating systems, including areas required for LEED v4 building certification. Primarily, the credits will apply in the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M) categories. This includes the specialty areas of: New Construction and Major Renovation, Existing Buildings, Core & Shell, Schools, Retail, Data Centers, Warehouse and Distribution Centers, Hospitality, and Healthcare. Specific credits are:

  • Energy & Atmosphere - Optimize Energy Performance

* It is important to note that no products, individually or collectively, can guarantee a specific number of points for LEED Category credit. Each credit will need to be matched to the product by a certified professional.