Important things to consider when buying a new air conditioner: fair air conditioner prices, SEER values, picking an HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) contractor, sizing your new air conditioner, and other tips to keep in mind before purchasing your new AC system.
The lifespan of most HVAC systems is an average of 10 to 14 years, so you can count on going through this experience sooner or later. Before you begin shopping here are some things you’ll want to know about central AC unit replacement.
One common mistake homeowners make is purchasing a unit that is either too big or too small to efficiently cool their home. Unfortunately, replacing your central air conditioner isn’t as simple as purchasing an identical-sized, new AC unit, especially if you’ve made any changes to your home, such as the replacement of drafty windows, installing new insulation or adding new rooms.
If you’re thinking about installing or replacing a central air conditioner, you’re probably aware that this is one of the most significant home improvements you can make in terms of comfort. On a hot, humid summer day, few amenities add to quality of life more than central air conditioning.
Air conditioning is also one of the most expensive improvements you’re likely to make, so it pays to do your homework and choose wisely.
Your A/C size is crucial to a comfortable home. Make sure the central A/C is large enough to cool down your house but not so large it wastes energy. A system that is too big for your home will cycle on and off frequently, consuming electricity and reducing energy efficiency. If it's too small, it will not be able to cool your entire home on hot days.
Before recommending a unit, the HVAC contractor should come to your home to do a load calculation. The contractor will consider the size of your home in square feet, the amount of insulation in your home and other factors to determine the correct size unit.
Air conditioner efficiency is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), and the government now requires that all A/C units have a SEER rating of 13 or higher. A rating from 14 to 22 earns an energy-efficient classification.
Think of SEER as being kind of like Miles Per Gallon (MPG) for your car. You can get a high MPG car, but if you drive it like you’re Lewis Hamilton, you’re not going to get a high MPG rating. Likewise, if you are constantly changing the temperature of your house, or if it is cool in the evening, and hot in the middle of the day (ahem…Southern California…cough, cough), then you will not net the full potential of your SEER value. The SEER value is that unit’s maximum potential.