This new AC tech helps save energy and may help you sleep better

Thanks to a new technology, we no longer have to choose between cool temperatures and quiet nights.

Key Points

  • Older room air conditioners are like cars going from zero to 60 and back to zero.
  • The cycle of starting and stopping the cool air isn’t energy efficient.
  • This year’s ENERGY STAR Emerging Technology Award went to a new air conditioner that operates more continuously to save energy.

I’m always a little weary of turning on a hotel’s room air conditioning unit. It usually goes something like this: I turn it on and welcome a big (and loud) gust of cool air. Once the room’s temperature has dropped, the unit turns idle. I snuggle into bed, dozing off into dream land, and then WHOOOSH – the unit bursts back into action when it detects that the room is warming a bit and wakes me up. This cycle usually happens several times throughout the night, waking me more than a toddler with the sniffles.

But thanks to a new technology, we no longer have to choose between cool temperatures and quiet nights. This year’s ENERGY STAR Emerging Technology Award went to a new type of room air conditioner that uses Efficient Variable Output. That means the units operate more continuously instead of the abrupt starts and stops of older ones. Trading out that cycle of starting and stopping for a more steady stream uses less energy, kind of like a car going a steady speed down the highway versus one that’s going from zero to 60 then back to zero every few minutes.

Here’s a chart from ENERGY STAR showing the energy output:

If you’re thinking about buying a new room air conditioner, make sure to check out these ENERGY STAR approved ones here.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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