With the number of air conditioners available on the market, it’s hard to make the “right” decision for your home. But with the right tips and the right mentality, you’ll have a much better chance of making the best investment.
When Is a New Air Conditioner the Right Choice?
A new air conditioner isn’t always the right decision. If you’re undecided, consider the following:
- Cooling abilities. Do you have a current air conditioner? If so, does it reliably cool your home? Or does it seem inefficient or unreliable?
- Age. How old is that air conditioner? If it’s 10 years old or older, a replacement may be advisable. If it’s only a few years old, repair may be a better option.
- Reliability. Does the AC unit constantly break down? Or is its cooling effectiveness a gamble? If so, a replacement is imperative.
- Other warning signs. What other warning signs does your AC unit show? Does it make weird noises or does it leak?
- Maintenance. Have you tried to fix your existing air conditioner? Or does it seem to need more maintenance and repairs every year?
Tips for Buying the Right Air Conditioner
These tips will help you buy the right air conditioner for your home:
- Understand the different types of air conditioners. For example, central air conditioning is one of the most common choices for modern homeowners; this system uses a single, permanent unit that features an evaporator, condenser, and compressor. It distributes cold air throughout the home via ductwork. However, you can also get a ductless split unit, which as the name suggests, doesn’t rely on ducts to distribute air; instead, they use wall-mounted blowers. You could also invest in geothermal AC, which relies on an underground heat distribution method to remove heat from your home. If you’re in the market for a smaller or simpler solution, a window unit or portable unit could be best.
- Choose the right size. Next, you’ll need to think about the size of the air conditioner you want to buy. If your unit is too small, it’s not going to be able to effectively cool your home. At the same time, if your unit is too big, it’s not going to run as efficiently – and it may suffer from wear and tear because it keeps starting and stopping. Air conditioners are rated in terms of “tons,” with 1 ton of cooling capacity being equivalent to 12,000 BTUs of cooling per hour. A 2-ton air conditioner would therefore have a cooling capacity of 24,000 BTUs per hour. As a rule of thumb, you should seek a ton of cooling capacity for each 400-500 square feet of space; for example, a 1,400-square-foot home should have a 3-ton AC unit. However, there are many other variables to consider in this equation, such as your home’s access to shade, the age of your home, and how much insulation you have.
- Pay attention to efficiency ratings. Modern AC units are rated in terms of how efficient they are. For example, you can look at the energy efficiency rating (EER). Your AC unit’s EER is a measure of its rate of cooling (at a standard 95 degrees F) divided by the Watt-hours of energy it uses. It’s given as BTU/Wh. The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of a unit includes calculations related to seasonal fluctuations. All central AC units in the United States must have a SEER of at least 13, while the Department of Energy recommends 14 or high. However, you can get units that are much more efficient – and capable of saving you more money (in most conditions).
- Consider extra features. Some air conditioners come with additional features that make them easier or more convenient to use – or that affect their performance in some important way. For example, some units come with energy saving modes that allow you to temporarily reduce energy consumption. You could also get access to a “sleep mode” that keeps your house cool while reducing costs. And of course, programmable and “smart” thermostats could make it easier to run your AC unit consistently – and have more convenient control over your climate.
- Think about noise. You might have your eye on a powerful, efficient unit that’s appropriately sized and within your budget – but none of those variables will tell you how much noise the AC unit is going to make. Most modern air conditioners have a dull, barely-noticeable hum to them – but some units make more noise than you’d traditionally expect. If you’re a light sleeper or if you just want your home to be as quiet as possible, you’ll want to keep this in mind.
- Research various brands. There are many competing brands in the HVAC space. Even if you know exactly what size and SEER rating you want, you’ll probably have several brands’ options to choose from. Do some research and talk to a professional to figure out which brand is the right fit for you; some may be better reviewed than others.
- Hire the right contractor. It’s also a good idea to hire the right contractor to install your unit. Much of your unit’s effectiveness and longevity will depend on the way it was initially installed; if it’s not installed properly or if it’s mishandled, it could jeopardize the functionality or lifespan of the unit – or potentially even introduce a safety risk.
- Set a budget – but be flexible. If you’re concerned about the financial impact of your AC unit, set a budget in advance. Figure out exactly how much of a unit you can afford and set an upper limit for what you’re willing to spend. Just make sure you’re willing to be flexible – it might be worth paying a bit more for a better unit.
Is your home in desperate need of a better air conditioner? Or are you just interested in seeing what a new AC unit could do for your household? Contact us to schedule an appointment today!