If you've reached the point where your central air conditioner has stopped working or will cost too much to repair, you'll need to make some important decisions. Researching your options will help you select the best air conditioning replacement and the best installation company.
Since the average central air conditioner is over 15 years old by the time it needs to be replaced, you probably haven't shopped for a new system in a long while. On the practical side, everyone wants a unit that satisfies their cooling requirements and fits their budget, so let's take a look at the nuts and bolts of the process and what you need to know.
Today's air conditioners are substantially more efficient than previous models. Units that are 10 years old cost 20 to 40 percent more to run than today's energy efficient air conditioners. They also have new features that help save money and achieve greater comfort. Here are a few innovations to look for when selecting a new unit:
- An automatic delay switch that runs the fan for several minutes after the compressor turns off and continues to pump remaining cool air out of the ducts
- A multi-speed air handler that saves energy and maintains consistently comfortable temperatures
- A quiet two-stage compressor that kicks into high gear when necessary and uses minimal amounts of power to keep your home cool
Energy Efficient Air Conditioners
Efficiency is a top concern for consumers, so it's important to familiarize yourself with efficiency ratings. Since 2006, the minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) for air conditioners has been 13. These systems are 30 percent more efficient than systems with a SEER of 10, but you can find units that are even more efficient than that. Top-of-the-line air conditioners from Carrier and Bryant have SEER ratings between 18 and 21.
There are two ways that cost factors into your decision. The cost of the equipment and installation is first, and the cost to operate the unit is second. Here's the bottom line:
- An efficient unit will cost more to purchase and less to run. This means that it will cover the cost difference and continue to save money on energy bills over its life.
- A standard model will cost less than an ultra-efficient unit. However, the initial savings will be consumed and surpassed by increased energy consumption over the life of the unit.
The longer you operate a standard unit, the more it costs. On the other hand, you save more when you have an energy-efficient unit. When considering the cost of a replacement, it's important to factor tax credits into the equation. Rebates and tax credits can make an efficient unit more affordable and increase your savings.
The size of your unit is another important consideration. Even through you're replacing a unit of a specific size, your requirements may have changed. Your HVAC contractor should complete precise load calculations according to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America Manual J. Adding extra insulation, expanding rooms, replacing windows and completing other changes will affect your cooling requirements. If you only need to cool part of your house, ductless air conditioners could be an ideal alternative. However, load calculations should also be performed if you're installing a ductless air conditioner.
Installation is the final consideration after you've worked with your contractor to purchase the ideal unit. By selecting a local contractor with NATE-certified technicians, you know that you're getting the best service. Attention to detail during the installation process ensures that your air conditioning replacement achieves the highest level of performance. Your contractor can also advise you if indoor components and coils need to be replaced. Because new systems use different types of refrigerant, this is often required. Plus, when you work with a factory-authorized dealer, your new equipment will be covered by extensive warranties.
If you're ready to move forward, locate a Comfort24-7 contractor today. Our certified HVAC specialists will work with you to assess your individual requirements and complete the air conditioning replacement process for you.
Written by Randy Gailit